Theatre:

The Crazy Gang began their long and distinguished career during the 1930’s at the London Palladium. They dominated comedy at The Palladium throughout the '30s. During their nine-year reign there had never been another single attraction which had brought people to one theatre in such large numbers over such a long period.

Inspired by the free-wheeling plotless revues pioneered by Nervo and Knox with Eddie Gray in the early 1920s, George Black presented his first Crazy Week at the London Palladium in November 1931, starring Nervo and Knox, Naughton and Gold, and Caryll & Mundy.  The first show was booked for two weeks and ran for eight months. Crazy Week became Crazy Month when Flanagan and Allen joined the team in June 1932.  The 1933 show ran for fourteen weeks and from then until the Blitz of 1940 the Crazy Gang remained in residence. 

The first production to boast a title was the 1934 edition Life Begins at Oxford Circus.  Caryll and Mundy left shortly after Flanagan and Allen came on board, and prior contractual obligations kept the other regulars out of the shows from time to time.  One celebrated temporary replacement for Bud Flanagan was Stanley Holloway.  During the Second World War the Gang split into its component parts, performing for ENSA all over Europe, with Eddle Gray roaming as far as the Middle East. 

The other London theatre with which they were long associated was The Victoria Palace Theatre (right, top). Their first show, Together Again, played for 1,566 performances and this was followed by an almost continuous run of Crazy Gang Shows. From 1951, the Gang consisted of Bud Flanagan (Chesney Allen had retired for health reasons), Nervo, Knox, Naughton and Gold, and now Eddie Gray rejoined the team. Nervo and Knox were always the highest paid, as their top billing indicated.  By 1959, the Gang had been together for 27 years and were all aged between 60 and 72. They had been threatening to retire for years, but kept being persuaded to do one more show - until their last show together on 19 May 1962. Jimmy Gold's health had caused him to miss most of the final two productions, though he did put in an appearance on that emotional last night of the last show. 

As one reviewer remarked about their last show at the Victoria Palace in 1962: "Two shows a night like this would kill anybody who had not been brought up as they were - hard-working boys in the business".

The Victoria Palace Theatre, London

Palladium Shows:

By 1934 the Palladium Shows began to have proper titles such as Life Begins at Oxford Circus, Round About Regent Street and All Alight at Oxford Circus, titles which reflected the Palladium's handy proximity to the the Oxford Circus tube station and which, in one show, featured an ambitious scene where everyone in the cast, including the band, represented people coming up out of the station.
Another show in this era was called
March Hares.

Bud Flanagan and Teddy Knox in 'Round About Regent Street'

   
1936 O-Kay For Sound - A Musical Comedy Spectacle of Filmland and the making of a movie.

London Palladium - 14 September 1936

Devised and produced by George Black; Assisted by Charles Henry. Book and lyrics by R.P.Weston and Bert Lee. Director of Music Jack Frere. Featuring Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Chesney Allen; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Joe Hayman; Phil Lester; Syd Railton; Patricia Bowman; Ray Sax & Bobby May; Lance Fairfax; Lino Carenzio; Harry Newman; Teddy Neal; Nancy Roberts; Chas. Schofield; Maurice Leverett;Enid Lowe; W.A.Haines; acrobats - The 4 Robenis; skaters - Mary & Erik; Sherman Fisher's Palladium Girls and Bob Busby's Sea Scout Band.

   
1937 London Rhapsody - A symphony of a great city.

London Palladium - 11 October 1937

Devised and produced by George Black; Assisted by Charles Henry; Music by Michael Carr, Jimmy Kennedy and Harris Weston. Director of Music Jack Frere. Featuring Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Chesney Allen; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Len Lewis; George Lane; Raymond Newell; Henry Carlisle; Syd Railton; Enid Lowe; Yola de Fraine; Rosarito; Tubby Keezing; The George Macintosh Four; Harry Champion; The Ganjou Brothers and Juanita; Avon Vale Four; The 3 Omegas; De-Rekar and Kortz; Levanda & partner; Sherman Fisher's 24 Palladium Girls; Harry Dennis' Six Dancing Dudes; Mary Young; The Gipsy Boys' Band from Budapest; The Wiere Brothers; Cardini.

   
1938 These Foolish Things

Sun Kissed PeachesLondon Palladium - 3 October 1938

Devised and Produced by George Black; assisted by Charles Henry. Book by George Black, Bert Lee and Harris Weston. Director of Music, Clifford Greenwood. Featuring Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Chesney Allen; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Kitty Reidy; juggler - Bob Dupont; Fanica Luca; The Stuart Morgan Dancers featuring Lita D'Oray; Gerry Fitzgerald; Jennie Gregson; J Sherman Fisher Girls with Marie Wilson; The De Tuscans; Ken Davidson; Hugh Forgie; Syd Railton; Princess Kuulei; Manley & Austin; Joe Tobin; Sue Ryan.

   
1939 The Little Dog Laughed

London Palladium - 13 September 1939

A big hit was the scene which opened with five pairs of enormous bloomers hanging on a line. On the seats were the names of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels, Ribbentrop and an extra large pair for Goering. A new song was commissioned entitled Click to listen!'We're Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line'. Another well remembered song from the show was Click to listen!'Run Rabbit Run', a song which helped to carry so many people through the War.
The show ran for 461 performances.

Devised and produced by George Black assisted by Robert Nesbitt; Dances and Ensembles by Wendy Toye assisted by Joan Sherman Fisher; Palladium Orchestra under the direction of Clifford Greenwood.

The cast included: Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Chesney Allen; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Dan Donovan; Mary Young; Jimmy Hadreas; The J. Sherman Fisher Girls; The Condos Brothers; Patricia Leonard; Marion Wilson; George Lane; Edna Squire Brown; E. V. Emmett; Cecily Thompson; Syd Railton; Willie, West and McGinty; The Fredianis.

1940 Top of the World - 4 September 1940. Starred Tommy Trinder, Pat Kirkwood and The Crazy Gang. The story was about a barrage-balloon squadron in which a balloon broke loose and drifted to another world ruled over by an extra-terrestrial queen played by Pat Kirkwood. During the run of this show, the Palladium was forced to close under mounting pressure from so many aerial attacks.

When the London theatres opened again after the Blitz, the first show that The Gang appeared in was a pantomime - Humpty Dumpty - at the Coliseum Theatre with Pat Kirkwood.

Happy and Glorious - A show which echoed the triumphant and patriotic spirit of the times following D-Day.

 

 

Victoria Palace Shows:

Together Again 1947

A meander down memory lane with Flanagan and Allen, appearing together in public, in a full show, for the first time since their partnership split in 1946. They reworked vintage sketch material and sang old favourites such as Click to listen!'Underneath The Arches' and Click to listen!'Run Rabbit Run'.

Also, Hubert Gregg's song Click to listen!'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner' was sung by Bud Flanagan for the first time in public in this show.

A feast of nostalgia was guaranteed. The show was reworked in 1957 as a series of six TV programmes which are preserved on film as a valuable record of the beloved double-act.

Produced by Alan Shanks; Music arranged by Freddy Bretherton, John Blore,Ray Terry and Phil Moody; Orchestra under the direction of John Blore; Dances and Ensembles arranged by Alan and Blanche Lund;
The cast included: Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Zena Dell; Eric Whitley; Jean, Christine and Trudy Bentley; The Radio Revellers; Freddie Holmes; Ann Jay; Vera de Walde; Willie Carlisle; Grace Draper.

   
Knights of Madness 1950

Sharing a ChaletMusical Revue in two acts. Original music and lyrics by Ross Parker; Comedy directed by Charles Henry; Sketches by Con West, Talbot Rothwell and Arthur Rose; Dances and Ensembles arranged by George Carden; Production by Alec Shanks; Orchestra under the direction of Freddie Bretherton;

Victoria Palace, London - 16 March, 1950

The cast included:

Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Grace Draper; The Dassie Brothers; Pat Hill and Lena Delma; Peter Glaze; Jan Mazuras; Linda Lee; Jillian Roma; Hazel Johns; Olgalita Mayne; Olga Fleming; Kay Henderson; Anne David and Olga Roberts;Alastair McHarg; Pamela Austin; Barbara Bruce;

   

Ring Out The Bells 1952

Musical Revue in two acts. Original music and lyrics by Ross Parker; Comady directed by Charles Henry; Dances and ensembles by Joan Davis; Orchestra directed by Freddie Bretherton; Deputy musical Director William Davis; Staged by Alec Shanks.

Victoria Palace, London

The cast included:

Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Pamela Austin; Valerie Tandy; Pamela Bromley; The John Tiller Girls; Billy McCormack; William Davis and Bobby Drage

The Gang lost Chesney Allen from their line-up beginning with this show when he retired due to ill health (he eventually outlived all the other members).

   
Jokers Wild 1954

Clangers! One of the most talked of acts in 'jokers Wild' was "frere Jacques" when the Gang, as skittish monks, toll the bells.Musical Revue in two acts. Original music and lyrics by Ross Parker; Comedy by Charles Henry; Dances and musical ensembles by George Carden; Musical director Ronnie Munro; Staged by Alan Shanks.

Victoria Palace, London - 16 December 1954

The cast included:

Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Vera Day; The John Tiller Girls; Pamela Bromley; Kenneth Sandford and Josephine Anne

   
These Foolish Kings 1956

The Gang in These Foolish KingsRevue devised by Jack Hylton. Comedy Scenes by William Shakespeare and Bud Flanagan; Comedy directed by Charles Henry; Music & Lyrics by Ross Parker; Choreography by Lionel Blair and Colette Brosset; Musical Director - Jack Ansell. Staged by Alec Shanks. Orchestrations by Billy Ternent.

Victoria Palace Theatre, London - 18 December, 1958 (882 perfs)

The Cast included:

Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Eddie Gray; Jean Wynser; the Radio Revellers; the John Tiller Girls; The Showladies; Sonya Cordeau; Sigrid Heine; Gerry Atkins and Les Joyeux Rossignols

Click to enlarge
2nd January 1957 page as reproduced in 'Punch' magazine.
The caricature illustrated a critical review of the show
Illustrator: Hewison
(click picture to enlarge)
Clown Jewels 1959

Clown Jewels - Here Bud Flanagan is a vicar at a choir practice, prising open the collection box with a knife and allowing the boys to play his fruit machine. Musical Revue in two acts. Comedy Scenes by Bud Flanagan and The Gang; Comedy directed by Charles Henry; Original music and lyrics by Ross Parker; Dances and Musical Numbers by Joan Davis; Musical Director Jack Ansell; Staged by Alan Shanks.

Victoria Palace, London - March 5th, 1959.

The cast included:

Jimmy Nervo; Teddy Knox; Bud Flanagan; Charlie Naughton; Jimmy Gold; Eddie Gray; The John Tiller Girls; Sonia Rees;The Croft Twins; Anne Hart; Celia Wright; The Lynton Boys; The Ken-Tones; Peter Glaze; Rosita; Kazbek and Zari

The Tiller Girls in Clown Jewels 1959
The Tiller Girls in Clown Jewels in 1959
   
Young In Heart 1960-62

As five principal boys they stride through the old time music hall and invite the audience to "Fall in and Follow Me!"Revue by Bud Flanagan and the Gang; Music and Lyrics Ross Parker, Bryan Blackburn and Greatrex Newman; Dances and musical numbers by Joan Davis; Musical Director Jack Ansell; Staged by Alan Shanks.

Victoria Palace Theatre, London - 21 December, 1960

The Cast included:

Bud Flanagan; Eddie Gray; Naughton and Gold; Nervo and Knox; Anne Hart; Bill Lynton; Pamela Austin; Roy Sone; Wllie Carlisle; the Ken-Tones and the John Tiller Girls.

The Gang's last show.
The last night was 19 May 1962

Tiller Girls in Young in Heart
The Tiller Girls in Young in Heart in 1960

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