Budgie returned to television from April-July 1972 for a further thirteen episodes. Adam Faith being in a near-fatal car accident is often cited as the reason why the series was discontinued, but in his 1996 autobiography Acts of Faith it's strongly implied that the series had run its course and he was going to continue his acting career elsewhere.
Both series of Budgie are available in The Online Anorak Zone Store. Join me as I rank the second and final season from worst to best...
Although not named as such onscreen, these episodes form a two-part story. Said story involves Budgie being wanted by a team of inept policemen, including future Wycliffe star Jack Shepherd. Sadly the cops present are a group of broad, unrealistic characters that drag the series down into previously unexplored levels of silliness.
One example of the humour inherent is that Budgie's Irish friend Grogan (from season one's Out) makes a return appearance, and viewers are called upon to laugh at the sight of him having given a female police officer a black eye. In defence of the series, then presenting the police as buffoons was quite groundbreaking for the time, yet it's hard to take this seriously as any kind of dramatic endeavour. Even Iain Cuthbertson lets the standards slip somewhat in this follow-up season, his "big" performance of season one spilling over towards an eye-buldging "turn" throughout many of the episodes. Consequently a scene where Budgie is beaten and begs Charlie for mercy is more childishly comic rather than possessing any genuine menace.
Any rankings of television episodes are, of course, entirely subjective, and with such a wide variety of styles then appreciating Budgie may merely be down to personal taste. While here at The Anorak Zone the idea of Budgie as a farce isn't one that's much-loved, you may find you prefer this lighter, frothier take on the format. Shepherd is back as his inept policeman Leadbetter, and there are plenty of silly and obvious jokes. Perhaps what manages to keep this off the bottom spot (and the worst Budgie episode of all) is a decent gag with Dickie Davies, playing himself, mistakenly arrested and then having drinks with Charlie Endell. It's a small highlight in a series lowpoint.
It's not the three poor episodes at the start of this list that make the second season of Budgie such a weak one... it's episodes like Glory of Fulham. While any series can sustain two or three poor instalments (like the first season of Budgie, in fact), it's when the average has become so formulaic and bog standard that the overall standard plummets. While the final season of Budgie still has its moments, it's painful to admit that every single episode on this first page can be skipped, most of them watchable, but all of them inessential.
Glory of Fulham operates to what is now a fairly rigid template: Budgie gets involved in a scheme, ropes in Charlie, and it blows up in his face. Such exploits are so ruthlessly predictable that the series' original planned title of The Loser would be more apt. And although Budgie brings about his own downfall here, the many torturous punishments Charlie inflicts on him in 1972 are no longer Machiavellian, but instead overt. It makes the character look a bully, and Budgie even stupidier than he ever was. Perhaps the only notable thing about this uninspired episode is that the scenes are experimentally long, with the entire first part just one extended scene between Budgie and Hazel. Though as their scenes together in season two are them screaming at one another, it's a sequence that can fray the nerves.
An episode about art scams, with Charlie offering Budgie £50 (£638 in today's money) to do a break in at a flat so he doesn't have to pay for some desired art. In the end result it turns out that even Charlie has been had, the "unique" art being anything but, a reasonably nice twist in what is generally a staid episode.
Guest-starring here is Derek Jacobi, playing Hazel's effete cousin, who Budgie abandons in Soho. As Jacobi experiences a seamier side of Soho than previously seen, including a topless woman in the episode, this may go some way to explaining why the second season was released with a "15" certificate, as opposed to the "12" certificate of the first.
As with Do Me A Favour, this episode was directed by Moira Armstrong, the only two episodes to be directed by a woman. Producer Verity Lambert appears with Armstrong on an amiable commentary track for King For A Day, the only episode to feature one. The story itself sees Budgie more childlike and endearing than in other episodes, having to stand in for Charlie after a potential client wants him dead. Charlie (his real name revealed here as "Angus McIntyre") gets increasingly angered by Budgie taking advantage of the situation, and what is an incredibly slight episode does contain some genuine menace in its final minutes. In all, this is a diverting enough watch, though, as with all the episodes on this page, you can comfortably skip it and not miss a thing.