Flanagan and Allen
Flanagan and Allen were a British singing and comedy double act popular during World War II. Its members were Bud Flanagan (1896–1968) and Chesney Allen (1893–1982). They were first paired in a Florrie Forde revue, and were booked by Val Parnell to appear at the Holborn Empire in 1926.
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 like 'We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line' mocked the German defences (Siegfried Line), while others like '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), 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 recordings of Flanagan and Allen remain popular, and the duo are frequently impersonated by professionals and amateurs. Royal Variety Performances often feature 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 about the duo produced by ATV for the ITV network.
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. Fans of either comedy team may be slightly disappointed by this album, since all of the selections are performed absolutely straight, with no comedy except for a brief amount of banter after one of the songs. Run Rabbit Run was one of their best hits in World War Two.
Selected list of Flanagan and Allen songs
- 'Run Rabbit, Run'
- 'Underneath the Arches'
- 'Where the Arches Used To Be'
- 'We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line'
- 'Nice People'
- 'The Umbrella Man'
- 'Shine on Harvest Moon'
- 'Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones'
- 'Round the Back of the Arches'
- 'We'll Smile Again'
- 'Miss You'
- 'Don't Ever Walk in the Shadows'
- 'Sierra Sue'
- 'Let's Be Buddies'
- 'Down Ev'ry Street'
- 'Are You Havin' Fun'
- 'Yesterday's Dreams'
- 'I Don't Want to Walk Without You'
- 'Rose O'Day'
- 'Smiths and the Jones'
- 'What More Can I Say'
- 'Why Don't You Fall in Love With Me'
- 'I'm Nobody's Baby'
- 'Down Forget Me Not Lane'
- 'Two Very Ordinary People'
- 'On the Outside Looking In'
- 'Home Town'
- 'Free (Isn't it the way it ought to be?)'
- 'Life Begins Again'
- 'Down Forget-Me-Not-Lane'
- 'In a little rocky valley'
- 'Flying through the rain'
- 'Roll on tomorrow'
- 'There's a boy coming home on leave'
- Bud Flanagan
- Chesney Allen
- The Crazy Gang
- The Flanagan and Allen Story theatre tour 2012: http://www.nostalgiashow.biz
- Flanagan and Allen (The Crazy Gang) accessed 15 November 2007