Standing ovation at Auf Wiedersehen, Pet show packed with surprises

Former Lewis star Kevin Whately was among the special guests at the eagerly-awaited Auf Wiedersehen, Pet at 40 celebration in Newcastle on Saturday - which followed up with plenty more surprises.

The actor, who played Neville, joined former cast members Tim Healy and Jimmy Nail - who had roles as fellow Geordie brickies Dennis and Oz in the long-running ITV show - to share their memories of making the series which had brought around 2,500 fans to the 02 City Hall to celebrate its milestone, after a similar number turned out earlier in the day for the matinee.

The first episode if the comedy-drama aired in late 1983 and the story's seven characters, who were seeking work on a building site, immediately won over viewers and soon made the cast into household names. So it was no surprise that the sold-out evening was packed with fans wanting to reacquaint themselves with them and to find out some insider gossip.

The night's guests had not been revealed prior to the event so another welcome surprise was seeing Christopher Fairbank, who played fire-loving Moxey, join the chat although Timothy Spall (Barry) - the only other surviving member of the cast, following the loss of Gary Holton (Wayne) and Pat Roach (Bomber) - was unable to attend.

There was however a special video message from him, shown on a giant screen at the back of the stage and there were more videos to come, to celebrate the Auf Wiedersehen, Pet anniversary - including from Sting and Mark Knopfler.

The night, hosted by Alfie Joey - itself a surprise as Jason Cook had been expected - played out with a lot of laughter, memories and music and fans enjoyed the cast banter and clips from popular episodes. Other special guests on the night included Dick Clement, who wrote the series with Ian La Frenais, and series creator Franc Roddam.

And there were actors from over the series' run, including Julia Tobin, who played Neville's wife Brenda; Bill Patterson - the gangster Ally Fraser - and Lysette Anthony whose Christa won Wayne's heart. Read a review of the night here.