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  • Budgie (or 'The Loser', as it was originally intended to be called) was a big hit with audiences back in 1971/2. It gave 60's songster Adam Faith, another chance at stardom, and led him on an interesting career as an actor. The show highlighted a certain (jailbird/chancer/petty thief/lovable rogue) Ronald 'Budgie' Bird, and his frequent (yet never successful) attempts to make 'easy' money. His futile attempts are also thwarted, due to his connection with Glasweigan sex shop owner/crime boss Charlie Endell (played brilliantly by Iain Cuthbertson) who constantly hangs over Budgie, depriving him of any earnings, and always coming out on top. His henchman, Laughing Spam Fritter (great name) is also menacingly portrayed by John Rhys-Davies. Given Endells questionable background, yet his (seemingly) respectable 'public' facade, the series has a lot to say about class system (or at very least, the idea of a class system) than it does about petty crime in the seventies. Budgie is not without redeeming features, and the one good thing in his life, is (his ever put upon girl-fiend/mother of his child) Hazell (another great down to earth performance by Lynne Dalby.) She constantly stands by her man (even when he seemingly leaves her for other women) yet receives little or no thanks for her endeavours. The show (in it's 26 episode run, in 2 series) covers a lot of ground, and also features some great guest cameos (including: John Thaw, Gordon Jackson, Derek Jacobi and James Bolam, to name but a few) Some (if not most) times this show has a certain comedic flow to it, yet other times, it takes on a darker sinister edge (mostly due to the sometime psychotic rages of Charlie Endell) but all in all, it's not only a great seventies time capsule, but (still to this very day) a highly moving and involving television show, that was long overdue a repeat in the UK (it's last and only repeat, being on Channel 4 circa 1985) but it seems the great minds at Network DVD have put together a excellent release of series 1 & 2 (Series two, also has some great special features)

    Highlights from series one are: Out, Grandee Hotel, Everybody Loves A Baby, Sunset Mansions.

    Highlights from series two are: And The Lord Taketh Away, Do Me A Favour, Twenty-Four Thousand Ball Point Pens, King For A day, Brief Encounter, Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run, Run, Run

    All in all, a great series. Hopefully Network DVD can release the rarely seen 1979 spin off 'Charlie Endell Esq' in the near future?

    10 out of 10 (and surprisingly, the first comment, on this great show)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When 'Budgie' was repeated by Channel 4 in the mid-80's, a disgruntled viewer complained: "Blimey! They've copied 'Minder!". He was wrong, of course. 'Minder' debuted on I.T.V. in 1979, a good seven years after 'Budgie' ended. But it was easy to see why he made the mistake, as the two shows are very similar.

    'Budgie' tells the story of Ronald 'Budgie' Bird, a small-time Cockney thief who dreams of making easy money without having to do anything drastic - such as working for a living. Most of his 'jobs' take him within the orbit of Charles Endell, a kind of Glaswegian Al Capone, with whom he has an uneasy relationship. Budgie lives with model Hazel Fletcher, and their son Howard. He uses her as a doormat most of the time, but she stands by him no matter what.

    Each week, Budgie came up with what he thought was a surefire way of making 'readies', such as acquiring bootleg trading stamps, crates of ballpoint pens, and pornographic books, harbouring illegal immigrants, hijacking delivery vans, and even a prize greyhound called 'Glory Of Fulham'. But his schemes fail - either because he has trusted the wrong people, or not thought things through properly. For instance, his trading stamp scam collapses when Charlie points out a flaw that a twelve year old would have spotted.

    Looking at 'Budgie' now its hard not to be reminded of not only 'Minder' but 'Only Fools & Horses'. Like Delboy Trotter, Budgie is an incorrigible rogue. Few people have written for television as well as Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall ( although two episodes were penned by Douglas Livingstone ). Some of the stories may seem a little slow by modern standards, but this was how all shows were made then.

    Adam Faith is simply brilliant as 'Budgie', oozing charisma and charm ( who says pop stars can't act? ) as is Iain Cuthbertson as 'Charlie' ( later to acquire a spin-off series of his own ). Lynn Dalby, whilst not the world's greatest actress, nevertheless evokes sympathy as Hazel, and guest-stars included Gordon Jackson, Alfie Bass, Kenneth Cranham, John Rhys-Davies, Jack Shepherd, John Thaw and Derek Jacobi. Georgina Hale is also impressive as Budgie's promiscuous wife Jean.

    'Budgie' was a big hit, and could easily have run to another season, but Faith wanted to end it on a high. It did - the final episode is incredibly moving. He later revived the character on stage in the '80's, with Anita Dobson replacing Lynn Dalby as 'Hazel'.

    Now that the series is out on D.V.D., I hope it attracts a new audience, if only to see what Britain in the '70's was really like. Forget 'Life On Mars' - this is the real thing.

    By turns funny, dramatic, and tragic, 'Budgie' is British television at its best - it set a standard that wouldn't be matched until 1983 and the arrival of 'Auf Wiedershen, Pet'.
  • Budgie is the greatest TV drama of all time. Brilliant scripts, brilliant characters, brilliant performances and all with so much charm. Adam Faith is wonderful as Budgie Bird, small time petty criminal, but a charmer too and there is a career best by Iain Cuthbertson as Charlie Endell, probably my favourite TV character of all time. Series 1 highlight is the Grandee Hotel with several guest stars including Peter Sallis while Series 2 is packed with great episodes. The very sexy Georgina Hale as Budgie's wife and the excellent Lynn Dalby as Budgie's lover add to the charm. Keith Waterhouse wrote some great stories to be played out here. It is a standout show and fully merits 10 out of 10.
  • So pleased that this great series is being shown again on UK television. I remember it so well from the evenings I and my boyfriend (later husband) watched it together after the commute home from working in London in the early 1970s. Adam Faith as Ron "Budgie" Bird and Ian Cuthbertson as Charlie Endell were very different in character but gelled perfectly. Both are sadly missed, especially Faith whose premature death robbed us of a fine young actor who would have very probably have gone on to even greater things. Early episodes are in black and white due to technicians strikes, but don't let that put you off this popular series which now looks like a prototype for "Minder" - although Charlie Endell is not as lovable a rogue as Arthur Daly, having a vicious and somewhat darker persona. All in all I recommend this to anyone especially those like me who enjoy a dollop of 70's nostalgia now and then.
  • kristhebass31 August 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    I missed the first series when it was first broadcast as I was relaxing at Her Majesty's pleasure (the one and only time I might add having well and truly learnt my lesson) at the tender age of 18 in Borstal. No TV for us in those days but my girlfriend told me all about it. So I was once more free when the second series was on. Have recently caught up on series one with the fab DVD release.

    I read that it was originally going to be called The Loser, a very apt title as Budgie was just that, the eternal loser, like Basil Fawlty, just when you think he's getting ahead Charlie Endell is right behind him to help it all go wrong.

    Adam Faith was perfect in the role, a fine actor, not a bad singer but was definitely a sad loss to the thespian world when he died at a very premature age. He was ably supported by Iain Cuthbertson as the hard man Charlie Endel. Lynn Dalby as his long suffering girlfriend/mother of his child didn't go on to greater things but is great eye candy.

    Spot the up and coming stars including Jack Shepard, John Rhys-Davies, Derek Jocobi, John Thaw and a 9 year old Dorian Healy amongst others. Not to mention my friend the lovely Carol Dilworth (Hawkes, mother of Chesney) in her last TV role

    It is a product of its time and one of the better productions of he 70's. I love it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The late Adam Faith started out in showbiz as a pop singer, gaining hits with songs such as 'Someone Else's Baby' and, my favourite, 'What Do You Want If You Don't Want Money'. When groups such as The Beatles ( a group I have never cared for ) started to rise to prominence, Faith found himself less popular in music circles and so branched into acting. Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall took him under their wing and made him the leading man in this wonderful LWT drama about a bungling petty thief.

    Ronald 'Budgie' Bird is a Cockney fly-by-night type to whom jail is a second home. He often tries to find ways of making easy money but his schemes, thanks to his own incompetence, usually end in disaster. His girlfriend Hazel ( to whom he has an illegitimate son with ) often bores the brunt of his cock-ups, which have ranged as far as trying to flog bootleg stamps, dirty magazines and indeed on one occasion, he even tried flogging a baby illegally.

    Budgie works for Charlie Endell, a Glaswegian crook who runs his own strip club in Soho. Charlie sometimes shows compassion towards Budgie, such as helping him out of financial problems, though he does sometimes go out of his way to make him suffer.

    'Budgie' ( originally to be titled 'The Loser' ) was an immediate hit with viewers and to my mind was one of the best drama shows of the '70's along with 'Callan', 'The Champions' and 'Randall & Hopkirk ( Deceased )'. As the mean spirited Budgie, Adam Faith was superb, though Iain Cuthbertson was undeniably the one who shone as Endell. He was so popular he even landed his own series for STV - the short lived but enjoyable 'Charles Endell Esquire'. Gorgeous Lynn Dalby played his long suffering girlfriend Hazel and deserved far more recognition than she got for her portrayal.

    Guest appearances included Derek Jacobi, Gordon Jackson, Alfie Bass, Jack Smethurst, Brenda Bruce and James Bolam.

    'Budgie' ran for two series. A third was to be made but Adam Faith was involved in a car crash not long after and was forced to retire briefly from acting. A stage version was made in the late '80's, with Anita Dobson taking on the role of Hazel. Thankfully, all of the show has been released on DVD and is highly enjoyable stuff, worth watching again and again.