Flanagan and Allen

Last updated

Flanagan and Allen
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Comedy music
Past members Bud Flanagan and Chesney 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, born Chaim Weintrop) and Chesney Allen (1894–1982). [1] They were first paired in a Florrie Forde revue, and were booked by Val Parnell to appear at the Holborn Empire in 1929. [2]



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. [1] 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. [1]

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), [1] 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. [1]

The recordings of Flanagan and Allen and the duo are still impersonated by professionals and amateurs. Royal Variety Performances have sometimes featured people 'doing a Flanagan and Allen', notably Roy Hudd and Christopher Timothy, [1] 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 appeared in 1980 with Billy Dainty playing the Bud Flanagan part.

In 1971, 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.

Flanagan sang the main theme song, "Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr. Hitler?" for the 1968–1977 BBC Television comedy Dad's Army , a show about the wartime Home Guard. [1]

Flanagan and Allen's song "Run Rabbit Run" had a surprising revival in 2016–17, featuring prominently in two films: Get Out and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children . [3]

Selected list of Flanagan and Allen songs

Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

Morecambe and Wise Comedy double act

Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, known as Morecambe and Wise, were an English comic double act, working in variety, radio, film and most successfully in television. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984. They have been described as "the most illustrious, and the best-loved, double-act that Britain has ever produced".

A double act is a form of comedy originating in the British music hall tradition, and American vaudeville, in which two comedians perform together as a single act. Pairings are typically long-term, in some cases for the artists' entire careers. Double acts perform on the stage, television and film.

Crazy Gang (comedy group)

The Crazy Gang were a group of British entertainers, formed in the early 1930s. In the mature form the group's six men were Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Jimmy Nervo, Teddy Knox, Charlie Naughton and Jimmy Gold. The group achieved considerable domestic popularity and were a favourite of the Royal Family, especially King George VI.

Bud Flanagan

Bud Flanagan, was a popular British music hall and vaudeville entertainer and comedian, and later a television and film actor. He was best known as a double act with Chesney Allen. Flanagan was famous as a wartime entertainer and his achievements were recognised when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1959.

Chesney Allen English entertainer of the Second World War period

William Ernest Chesney Allen was a popular English entertainer of the Second World War period. He is best remembered for his double act with Bud Flanagan, Flanagan and Allen.

Underneath the Arches may refer to:

Underneath the Arches (song)

"Underneath the Arches" is a 1932 popular song with words and music by Bud Flanagan, and additional lyrics by Reg Connelly. It was one of the most famous songs of the duo Flanagan and Allen.

<i>Gasbags</i> 1941 British film

Gasbags is a 1941 British comedy film directed by Walter Forde and Marcel Varnel and starring The Crazy Gang as well as Moore Marriott. The film was a morale-booster in the early part of the Second World War.

"We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line" is a popular song by Ulster songwriter Jimmy Kennedy, written whilst he was a Captain in the British Expeditionary Force during the early stages of the Second World War, with music by Michael Carr. It was first published in 1939.

Bring Me Sunshine 1966 song by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee

"Bring Me Sunshine" is a song written in 1966 by the composer Arthur Kent, with lyrics by Sylvia Dee. It was first recorded by The Mills Brothers in 1968, on their album My Shy Violet. In the UK, the song is associated with the popular comedy duo Morecambe & Wise, after it was adopted as their signature tune in their second series for the BBC in 1969.

<i>The Frozen Limits</i> 1939 film

The Frozen Limits is a 1939 British comedy western film directed by Marcel Varnel and starring Jimmy Nervo, Bud Flanagan, Teddy Knox, Chesney Allen and Charlie Naughton a group of entertainers commonly known as The Crazy Gang. It was written by Val Guest.

Underneath the Arches is a 1937 British comedy film directed by Redd Davis and starring Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen, Stella Moya, Lyn Harding and Edmund Willard. Flanagan and Allen formed part of the comedy ensemble known as the Crazy Gang. It was made by Julius Hagen's Twickenham Studios as part of its ambitious production schedule following its abandonment of quota quickies.

Wild Boy is a 1934 British comedy sports film directed by Albert de Courville and starring Sonnie Hale, Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen. It was by Gainsborough Pictures at Lime Grove Studios. The sets were designed by Alfred Junge. Often forgotten, but the role of "Wild Boy" was played by the greyhound Mick the Miller.

A Fire Has Been Arranged is a 1935 British comedy film directed by Leslie S. Hiscott and starring Chesney Allen, Bud Flanagan and Alastair Sim.

Theatre Royal is a 1943 British comedy film directed by John Baxter and starring Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen and Lydia Sherwood. The plot concerns an attempt by the staff of a theatre to prevent its closure.

<i>Dreaming</i> (1944 British film) 1944 British film

Dreaming is a 1944 British comedy film directed by John Baxter and starring Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen and Hazel Court. Its plot concerns a soldier who is knocked unconscious during a train journey and has a series of bizarre dreams.

Here Comes the Sun is a 1946 British comedy film directed by John Baxter and starring Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen and Elsa Tee. The film follows a sports reporter, on the run from the police, as he tries to clear his name.

<i>Well Smile Again</i> 1942 British film

We'll Smile Again is a 1942 British musical comedy film directed by John Baxter and starring Bud Flanagan, Chesney Allen and Meinhart Maur.

"Are You Havin' Any Fun?" is a song with lyrics by Jack Yellen and music by Sammy Fain. It featured in the Broadway review series George White's Scandals in 1939. A popular recording in 1939 was by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra.

"The Umbrella Man" is a British song written by James Cavanaugh, Larry Stock and Vincent Rose. It was first published in 1924 and first performed live by the comedy double act Flanagan and Allen in 1939 in the musical revue These Foolish Things. It became one of their standards along with “Hometown” and “Underneath the Arches”. It is used in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective (1986) and the TV adaptation of John le Carré's A Perfect Spy (1987).


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 140/1. ISBN   1-85227-937-0.
  2. "Flanagan and Allen (The Crazy Gang)". Turnipnet.com. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 18 July 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. 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 .."