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DVD review: Budgie - The Complete Series (1971)

Budgie_sleeve The mind can play tricks over the years. Shows you remember as classics can seem stale and dated when you re-acquaint yourselves with them on DVD some years later. Thankfully Budgie doesn't fall into that category.

This cult TV series, originally shown in 1971 then briefly repeated in the mid-80s by Channel 4, was Adam Faith's second big break, shifting his career from teen pop icon to TV star. And of course, fashionista - the series coining a new trend - the "Budgie" jacket - after a certain garment worn by Faith in the show.

But it wasn't just Faith's portrayal of a loveable rogue that made the show - it was also the well-assembled supporting cast and the superb writing partnership of Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, the team behind Billy Liar and a whole host of other successes from stage and screen throughout the 60s and 70s.

Budgie_1 Ronald "Budgie" Bird is the classic ne'er do well - a petty crook hanging around on the fringes of the criminal fraternity, always on the lookout for a get rich quick scam which inevitably goes wrong  - landing him deeper in debt, both financially and to the two main people in his life - girlfriend Hazel (Lynn Dalby) who has his child and the "Mr Big" of the Soho sex shops (and so-called friend) - Charlie Endell, played superbly with a restrained menace by Ian Carmichael.

Along the way, he gets helped and hindered by an assortment of top notch British actors, including John Thaw, Norman Rossington, Peter Sallis, Anthony Valentine, archetypal northern old bloke Joe Gladwin, plus Georgina Hale as his ex-wife.

Choosing the highlights of the series is tough - because out of all the 13 episodes in the first series (note the first four are in black and white), there isn't a bad one. But if I was pushed, the best of the bunch would include the opener, "Out", where Budgie has to look after a "Salford stripper" (played by the stunning Adrienne Posta), whilst trying to sell some illegal adult magazines he has acquired, "Grandee Hotel", with Budgie chasing a big pay off during an evening of luxury, "Best Mates", featuring Joe Gladwin as an escaped prisoner hiding out at Budgie's flat, the two-part "Fiddler On The Hoof", where Budgie goes back to the family home to organise a jewel theft, "Sunset Mansions", where Budgie involves himself with an ageing TV star and the season finale, "And In Again", where an item picked up in the first episode coming back to haunt him in the last.

The fashions are pure 70s excess, the sets wobbly and some of the language wouldn't pass as politically correct 35 years on. But what does stand the test of time is the acting and above all, the scripts - comedy drama at its very best. Hours of classic entertainment you really should own. Roll on series 2.

Special features

A stills gallery from throughout the first series.

Find out more about the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

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