The gang appeared first in their own stage show Crazy Week at the Victoria Palace Theatre, which later became their adopted home, but then made several films. The first was O-Kay For Sound, in 1937 and the best remembered was their war-time film Gasbags (1940). They kept people entertained during the war years with their irreverent comedy style, and Flanagan and Allen's very popular songs also contributed to their success. All their films were directed by Marcel Varnel, the Frenchman who directed a long list of classic British comedies for Will Hay, George Formby and others. Moore Marriott, who was a co-star of Will Hay, often turned up in their films and Eddie Gray their associate and equally crazy comic always did.
Later they made Life Is A Circus (1958), starring Shirley Eaton and in which Flanagan and Allen performed their biggest hit Underneath the Arches again. Chesney Allen withdrew from live performances in later years due to ill health, though ironically he outlived all the others. The Gang made a television series 'The Gang Show' in 1956. The Gang was understudied by Peter Glaze.
Teddy Brown, a very tall and enormously fat American percussionist also appeared with the gang. His speciality was to perform on the xylophone. His other role was to be the butt of practical jokes by the Gang; at one performance Flanagan and Allen took to the stage each encased in one leg of Brown's trousers while Brown frantically called from the wings trying to get them back. His relationship to the main members was similar to that of Eddie Gray.
They were asked to do many Royal Command performances, their last was in 1967, and also did private performances for the royal family. Although they were most popular in Britain and countries like Australia they still have their fans in the U.S., as well as other English speaking countries, although some may find their humour dated. They made several films, but due to them not being able to use their technique of ad libbing, they were not a great success.
note Chesney Allen did not perform with the Gang after 1945 and Eddie Gray was added to the cast in 1958
"Kindly Leave the Stage" by Roger Wilmot - published by Methuen - ISBN 0-413-59290-1
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