Imagine if Laurel and Hardy, or W.C. Fields, had starred in a weekly sitcom on American TV ... and you have a pretty good idea of how significant "Bud" is to lovers of British comedy. In the 1930s and the war years, Bud Flanagan and his cross-talk partner Chesney Allen were absolute giants of show-biz in the variety halls and films. Britain's #1 comedy team in their own right, Flanagan and Allen sometimes teamed up with two other comedy acts (Nervo & Knox, and Naughton & Gold) to form the Crazy Gang ... a six-man act in which Flanagan and Allen were always the two most prominent comedians. Following Ches Allen's early retirement, Flanagan continued with the Crazy Gang, which now included a double-talk comedian who billed himself as "Monsewer Eddie Gray". I never considered Eddie Gray a true member of the Crazy Gang: the rest of the Gang looked like fairly normal middle-aged men except when they got up in drag or outrageous costumes, but "Monsewer" always wore an elaborate handlebar moustache and a top hat which tipped the wink in advance that he was "supposed to" be funny. "Monsewer" Eddie Gray was the British equivalent of "Professor" Irwin Corey, another comedian whom I never found funny.
In 1963, Bud Flanagan was wealthy many times over (from his betting parlours and other investments), and decided to star in this brief six-episode series purely for the fun of it. "Bud" is similar to "Seinfeld" and the Abbott & Costello TV show, in that it stars a famous comedian as a fictionalised version of himself. For this series, Bud (playing himself) was retired from the show biz, and looking for some other trade just to keep his hand in. Each episode featured Bud trying his luck at a different job, and always failing dismally. Fortunately, all six episodes were hilarious.
A top-form roster of guest stars appeared in various episodes of "Bud": not only Bud's old partner Ches Allen, but also fellow Crazy Gangster Charlie Naughton as well as major comedians Jerry Desmonde and Jack Hylton, plus (less welcome, in my opinion) "Monsewer" Eddie Gray.
Fans of "Yes, Minister" will be intrigued to know that Nigel Hawthorne, very early in his career, made a guest appearance in the last episode of "Bud". This serves to show the ongoing continuum of England's comedy tradition. "Bud" was hilarious. As Bud Flanagan himself often said: "Oi!"
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