Set during World War II, 'Allo 'Allo! tells the story of René Artois, a French café owner in the village of Nouvion (the town square was based on a courtyard at Lynford Hall, Norfolk where the pilot episode was shot). Germans have occupied the village and stolen all of its valuable artefacts. These include the first cuckoo clock ever made and a painting of The Fallen Madonna by Van Clomp (known to those who have seen it as The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies). The commandant of the town has decided to keep them for himself after the war and forces René to hide the painting in his café. Hitler also wants the painting for himself, and sends Herr Otto Flick of the Gestapo to the town to find it. Flick, in turn, conspires to keep it for himself. The paintings are duplicated by a forger, get mixed-up and put in knockwurst sausages. One is sent to Hitler on an ammunition train which gets blown up, one is hidden and the other is eaten for dinner by Flick himself.
René is also trying to keep his affairs with his two waitresses secret from his wife. In addition, the women-only Communist Resistance members are plotting against René for serving Germans and working with the Gaullist Resistance. Ironically, the Communist Resistance only blow things up for money. The only reason that they do not shoot René is that their leader is in love with him, a fact he has to hide from both his wife and his waitresses. Furthermore, the seemingly gay German Lieutenant Gruber is also continually flirting with René.