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Essence of Seventies,
This review is from: Budgie - The Complete Series Boxset [DVD]  (DVD)
I was also aware of Budgie on the TV in the Seventies, but, in my mid-teens I had better things (or so I thought) to do with my Thursday nights thatn stay in and watch the television.
I caught up with it again at the dawn of Channel 4, and cannot for the life of me understand why it has never been re-broadcast. I believe it to be one of the best creations ever by British television, the sort of thing we'll never see again. The pace is slow, the scenes are long...but the characters develop and you really do care about them (or, in the case of Charles Endell Esq., fear them).
Budgie is a character it's impossible to dislike, despite his conniving ways and blatant lack of honesty (he does occasionally display scruples). Hazel, his "long-suffering girlfriend" (excuse the cliche) is brilliantly played by the beautiful Lynn Dalby. Other quirky characters (and character actors) come and go - Alfie Bass, Derek Jacobi and John Thaw among others. Faith plays Budgie as though born to the role. Not a natural actor, he makes this role by force of personality, and his collection of catchphrases - "Stone me, 'aze!", "Come in Budgie!" "I've stood for it, ain't I?" et al - never sound forced or formulaic.
Iain Cuthbertson's Charlie Endell is a mammoth creation. His effete, social-climbing Glasgow accent hides a vicious streak terrifying to see. He seems to have a soft spot for Budgie (although he employs him, he rarely gets any work or any profit out of him) but then totally hangs him out to dry to devastating effect in both the first and second series.
Georgina Hale makes the occasional appearance as Budgie's wife, hidden away in Watford. Her performances may seem over the top by today's standards, but are in keeping with the tone of the series, with most of the supporting characters seeming to be grotesques.
Unflattering comparisons with Minder are often made, but they are two totally different propositions. Terry McCann is a hero, winning every fight he gets into (Budgie is often seen being physically abused, but never fights - he's far too much of a coward) and never exhibits any character flaws. Budgie is full of flaws and all the more endearing for it. Arthur Daley, whilst notorious for his failed deals, is obviously a success as evinced by his lifestyle. Budgie could only dream of Arthur's suits and cigars.
The only drop in quality comes in Glory of Fulham (about a stolen greyhound) but this is still a watchable episode and is merely a temporary blip. Each series ends on a heartbreaking note, made all the more sad by the knowledge that we know there will be no more Budgie.
The extras, while not plentiful, are interesting, with modern day interviews with Georgina Hale and a couple of others, a thirty-minute Seventies documentary on the making of the series and a Russell Harty interview from 1974 with Faith (who seems humble and personable). There's also a commentary track on one episode.
Yes, for all the shaky sets and hammy acting, this is a series with charm to spare.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Sep 2008 16:29:28 BDT
Cupid Stunt says:
You're absolutely spot on AK. I too caught this in the mid 80's C4 revival rather than any original broadcast and was engrossed. It's unlikely to attract any new viewers now at nearly £50 a pop though so it's a shame BBC4 or someone hasn't picked it up by now.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2009 00:17:09 BDT
AK 1957-05 says:
Thanks very much Cupid. As you say, it's sadly neglected, even sadder that with the passing of Adam Faith what slim chance there was of seeing Budgie again is gone forever.
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