Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen were a British singing and comedy double act popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Its members were Bud Flanagan (1896 – 1968) and Chesney Allen (1894 – 1982). They were first paired in a Florrie Forde revue, and were booked by Val Parnell to appear at the Holborn Empire in 1929.
As music hall comedians, they would often feature a mixture of comedy and music in their act; this led to a successful recording career as a duo and roles in film and television. Just prior to and throughout the Second World War they appeared in several films helmed by Marcel Varnel and John Baxter. Flanagan and Allen were both also members of the Crazy Gang and worked with that team for many years concurrently with their double-act career.
Flanagan and Allen's songs featured the same, usually gentle, humour for which the duo were known in their live performances, and during the Second World War they reflected the experiences of ordinary people during wartime. Songs such as "We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" mocked the German defences (Siegfried Line), while others including "Miss You" sang of missing one's sweetheart during enforced absences. Other songs, such as their most famous, "Underneath the Arches" (which Flanagan co-wrote with Reg Connelly), and the song "Umbrella Man" which was used in many Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons), had universal themes such as friendship. The music was usually melodic, following a binary verse, verse chorus structure, with a small dance band or orchestra providing the accompaniment. The vocals were distinctive because while Flanagan was at least a competent singer and sang the melody lines, Allen used an almost spoken delivery to provide the harmonies and bass line. The duo appeared at the London Palladium at the first Royal Variety Performance in 1932.
The recordings of Flanagan and Allen and the duo are still impersonated by professionals and amateurs. Royal Variety Performances has sometimes featured people 'doing a Flanagan and Allen', notably Roy Hudd and Christopher Timothy, Bernie Winters and Leslie Crowther. In 1980, the latter two featured in a one-off musical drama called Bud & Ches, about the duo produced by ATV for the ITV network. Allen himself did appear in 1980 with Billy Dainty playing the Bud Flanagan part.
The later comedy team Morecambe and Wise, who often expressed their admiration for Flanagan and Allen, recorded a tribute album, Morecambe and Wise Sing Flanagan and Allen (Phillips 6382 095), in which they performed some of the earlier team's more popular songs in their own style, without attempting to imitate the originals.
Selected list of Flanagan and Allen songs
- Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 140/1. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
- "Flanagan and Allen (The Crazy Gang)". Turnipnet.com. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- David R. Sutton - A Chorus of Raspberries: British Film Comedy 1929-1939, 2000, p. 137; "Flanagan and Allen, the most famous of the three duos, had graduated from bargain-basement shorts such as The Bailiffs (1933) (a pretty rudimentary film of an old Fred Karno routine) and The Dreamers (1934), to features such as A Fire Has .."