1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
26 x 60 minute episodes
ITV’s Budgie was written by Keith Waterhouse and had 1960s pop star Adam Faith in the title role, playing Ronald ‘Budgie’ Bird – a chirpy cockney, just out of prison, and scraping a living on the edge of the law.
Budgie was a born loser and an eternal failure. Every scam and every attempt to make his fortune landed him further and further into trouble, either with the police, or with his untrustworthy sometime boss, the cynical Charlie Endell, a respectable club owner on the surface, and underworld villain below it.
All attempts to put Budgie on the ‘straight and narrow’ by his girlfriend Hazel (Lynn Dalby) and awful ex-wife Jean (Georgina Hale) were in vain.
With an unflappable optimism, he bounced in and out of prison on a regular basis as the series progressed, always shunning regular employment and clinging to the fringes of the Soho underworld, along with his “mates”, Laughing Spam Fritter and Grogan.
Despite being used and pushed around, the long-haired delinquent remained an eternal optimist, meandering through life dreaming up worthless ways of making his fortune, ducking, and diving and incurring the wrath of the local heavies.
Budgie brought us more dodgy ‘erberts than you could shake a truncheon at in what was in many ways a superior forerunner to Minder. And it brought us the huge fashion trend that was the ‘Budgie jacket’. Black and white panelled jackets that you had to have to be ‘one of the boys’?
Mrs Whitehouse attacked Budgie for its bad language, but the audience loved it.
Two series, each of 13 episodes, were made, and in 1979, Iain Cuthbertson reprised his role in Charles Endell Esquire, but after only two episodes screened an ITV strike put it off the air, never to return.
Ronald ‘Budgie’ Bird
Laughing Spam Fritter