The Lavender Hill Mob. Shorty (Alfie Bass). Copyright: STUDIOCANAL

Alfie Bass was an English actor who appeared in dozens of radio, television and film productions throughout his lengthy career. He is best known for playing Pte Montague 'Excused Boots' Bisley in The Army Game and Bootsie And Snudge, and for appearing in several film comedies including The Lavender Hill Mob.

More information

Monday 10th April 1916
Wednesday 15th July 1987


Born Abraham Basalinsky in Bethnal Green, London, Alfie Bass was the youngest in a Jewish family with ten children. He left primary school at the age of 14 and worked as a tailor's apprentice, a messenger boy, and a shop-window display fitter, before finding his calling on the stage.

Bass's career kicked off at the Unity Theatre, London in the late 1930s. Here he featured in Plant In The Sun alongside Paul Robeson and as the pantomime King in Babes In The Wood. Upon the outbreak of World War II, Bass signed up to join the Middlesex Regiment as a despatch rider, but even during the conflict he involved himself in concert parties, going so far as to participate in documentaries for the Army Film Unit. Other stage work included an adaptation of Gogol's short story "The Bespoke Overcoat", transposed to the East End of London and, in its film version by Jack Clayton in 1956, the winner of the Oscar for best short.

In television Bass is perhaps best known for playing Private Montague 'Excused Boots' Bisley, in The Army Game (1957-1961), as well as its sequel Bootsie And Snudge (1960-1963), working at a Gentleman's Club with Bill Fraser as 'Claude Snudge' and Clive Dunn as 'Henry Beerbohm Johnson'. He revived this career for another spin-off, Foreign Affairs, in 1964.

In the 1970s and 1980s he became a mainstay on British television, appearing regularly in the TV sitcoms Till Death Us Do Part, as Bert Reed, and Are You Bieing Served? as Mr. Goldberg. As in the Mr Goldberg role, he often emphasised his Jewish background in on-screen characterisations. He also guest-starred in two episode of the British comedy television series The Goodies.

In film, Bass is known for several appearances in wartime documentaries, following his own experience of martial dispute, but he also built up a distinguished comedy career, starring in The Lavender Hill Mob, Made In Heaven, Jumping For Joy, and Holiday Camp, among several others. Later roles included Clouseau's seafaring informant in Revenge Of The Pink Panther and a leading role in the 1997 sex comedy Come Play With Me.

An actor supremely comfortable in either drama or comedy, in 1970 he was a subject of the television programme This If Your Life, where he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews.


Year Production Role
1979 Are You Being Served? - Series 7 Mr. Harry Goldberg
1977 Lord Tramp
  1. E2 - Episode Two
Piccadilly Perce
1977 A Roof Over My Head - Series 1 Flamewell
1977 Come Play With Me Kelly
1977 Mr Big - Series 1
  1. E4 - The Hit Man
Clement Clark
1976 The Howerd Confessions
  1. E5 - Episode Five
Chalky White
1975 Till Death Us Do Part - Series 7 Bert Reed
1974 Till Death Us Do Part - Series 6 Bert Reed
1974 Bootsie And Snudge - Series 4 'Excused Boots' Bisley
1973 Men Of Affairs
  1. E5 - Episode Five
1973 Black And Blue
  1. E5 - Soap Opera In Stockwell
1971 The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins Mr. Spooner
1967 Vacant Lot Alf Grimble
1966 Cooperama
  1. E4 - Episode Four
Ensemble Actor
1966 The Sandwich Man Yachtsman
1966 Alfie Harry Clamacraft
1965 Me And My Big Mouth Actor
1965 Help! Doorman
1964 Foreign Affairs 'Bootsie' Bisley
1960 Bootsie And Snudge - Series 1 'Excused Boots' Bisley
1959 The Army Game - Series 3 Pte Montague 'Excused Boots' Bisley
1958 I Only Arsked! Excused Boots Bisley
1956 A Touch Of The Sun Mr. May
1956 Jumping For Joy Blagg
1956 Sailor Beware Organist
1953 Top Of The Form Arty Jones
1952 Made In Heaven Bert Jenkins
1952 Brandy For The Parson Dallyn
1951 The Lavender Hill Mob Shorty
1947 Holiday Camp Redcoat
1945 Johnny Frenchman Corporal

Non-comedy TV and film credits may be found here:
Alfie Bass on IMDb

Share this page