» Introduction & Index
» 1 Lemon Sherbet
» 2 Newsreaders
» 3 Targets: Max & Des
» 4. Goodies Turning ...
» 5. Beanz Ads
» 6. Targets: Nichola...
» 7. Goodies In Love
» 8. The Trandem
» 9. Targets: Tony Bl...
» 10. Inventions
» 11. Tim In Drag
» 12. Targets - David...
» 13. Bill's Outfits
» 14. Live Music
» 15. Targets: Mary &...
» 16. Goodies Relatives
» 17. Tim's Patriotic...
» 18. Targets: Rolf H...
» 19. Bill & Graeme i...
» 20. Sports & Games
» 21. Targets: Lionel...
» 22. Guest Stars: Pa...
» 23. Graeme's Computer
» 24. Monty Python Re...
» 25. Targets: Eddie ...
» 26. Memorable Animals
A COLLECTION OF GOODIES THEMES
9. GOODIES TARGETS – TONY BLACKBURN
Antony Kenneth Blackburn was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1943 and began his career as a singer, then worked as a DJ for the offshore "pirate radio stations" Radio Caroline and Radio London. He was the first DJ to be heard on BBC Radio 1 when it was launched in 1967 and hosted the breakfast show until 1973. With his singing career only being moderately successful (of 14 singles released, two made the UK Top 40 - "So Much Love" and "It's Only Love"), he then focussed on radio presenting. His cheerful style and corny jokes made him a popular figure, although his preference for bubblegum and mainstream pop (and later, soul) and dislike of heavy rock and punk got him offside with others, most notably his fellow Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Blackburn also regularly hosted Top Of The Pops on BBC Television during the mid 1970s, making him a prime target for the Goodies to have fun at his expense.
Nowadays he is still hosting weekly and weekend radio shows and making occasional TV appearances, most notably when he was the winner of ITV's reality show "I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!" in 2002. He also made headlines in 2004 when he was temporarily suspended from his radio show on Classic Gold for playing Cliff Richard songs in defiance of a management ruling that Cliff's music didn't fit the station's demographic, though he (and Cliff's music) were soon reinstated. However it's his mentions and guest appearances in The Goodies in the prime of their run on TV and in the pop charts that is the main focus of this article.
Blackburn's first two "appearances" in the show come very early in the first series courtesy of Bill's wild lemon sherbet hallucinations. Bill's visions in "Give Police A Chance" betray his own lofty ambition of becoming a pop star with a fleeting glimpse of Jimmy Savile followed by a more substantial one of Blackburn, causing the bombastic Police Commissioner to bark: "Who's that poof?!" Tim: "It's Tony Blackburn." Graeme: "He (Bill) wants to be on Top Of The Pops". Similarly in "Playgirl Club" Bill attempts to use his visions to find out what's happened to Tim when he hasn't returned from a women-only club after three whole weeks, but he can only muster another vision of Blackburn, to which an annoyed Graeme tells him to concentrate on "Girls, girls, girls".
In "the Baddies" episode from the end of Series 2, The Goodies are running a 'Nicest Person Of The Year Award'. Graeme takes bets on the winner, with themselves in the running against people like Liberace, Tony Blackburn, Moira Anderson, Lovelace Watkins, Hughie Green - "a bunch of creeps", according to Bill. Prior to Bill entering the room though, Graeme is determining the odds of the various entrants despite Tim huffily declaring that Graeme is lowering the dignity of the whole event. Graeme (looking at his odds board): "Bah! Tony Blackburn. 20 to 1?" Tim (indignantly): "No! … 50 to 1!" G: "Yeah." T: "A hundred!"
Later in the episode when all of the nominees for 'Nice Person Of The Year' are suddenly caught doing horrid things in public, Bill finds an odd-looking photo in a newspaper: "Look at this one. Tony Blackburn on Top Of The Pops strangling a kitten!" Graeme (suspiciously): "Wait a minute ... do you notice anything? Look at Tony Blackburn's face. Look at that weird fixed grin and that strange blank look in his eyes." Bill (dismissively): "He always looks like that!"
At the start of Series 3 in "The New Office" when the Goodies have moved into their new disused railway station, Bill is most indignant when firstly Tim, and then Graeme, tells him to get out of their particular sections and into his own area. Bill's anger and frustration is swiftly relieved however by removing the cover from his Tony Blackburn punching ball and throwing a few well-aimed punches at it! Three episodes later in "That Old Black Magic" a possessed Graeme starts to take on the identities of various celebrities at Bill's command, including Eammon Andrews ("And tonight Witch Hazel, this is your life!"), Walter Gabriel ("Elllllo deeere!") and Eddie Waring ("Well Hull Kingston Rovers had a good game..."). However Bill's command of "Take Tony Blackburn." has an appalled Tim pleading "Please ... take Tony Blackburn!" before Graeme can even squeeze a quick impression in. A third brief wisecrack about Blackburn in this series comes in the "Superstar" special at the end where Bill has been transformed into rockstar Randy Pandy at the hands of his unscrupulous agent, Isobel Chintz. Isobel gushingly tells Bill: "Tonight you're gonna perform the big showstopping, amazingly tasteless number on Top Of The Pops. Oh kid, when Tony Blackburn sees you, he's gonna drop dead from embarrassment", to which Graeme matter-of-factly states "Oh well, at least some good will come of it!"
"Hospital For Hire" in Series 4 features one of the all-time classic Goodies quotes with Blackburn as the unfortunate victim of the punchline. Graeme is spruiking his magic cure-all elixir with almost evangelical fervour and launches into the following spiel to his engrossed audience: "My friends, this here bottle contains a guaranteed all-purpose remedy for prostration, inflation and frustration ... pneumonia and old monia ... distemper, dat temper and bad temper ... sunburn, heartburn ... and Tony Blackburn!" This proclamation is met with much hootin', hollerin' and hat throwin' by the Wild West-type mob, so a cure for Tony must have been a much sought-after medical breakthrough in those days!
The Series 5 episode of "Chubby Chumps" has the housewives' darling DJ Terry encouraging all of his listeners to enter the Miss Housewife Of The Year competition shortly after he has herded them off to a health farm to ensure that he's got some decent-looking talent to judge. Regarding the prizes for this competition, Terry states: "And don't forget, first prize is a night out with me. Second prize - a night out with Tony Blackburn. Third prize - two nights out with Tony Blackburn...!"
Shortly afterwards, Terry is promptly sacked for describing his fans as "fat old bats" while not realising that he is still on-air, so Graeme assumes his role as the new DJ at BBC Radio. After falling through the rickety old cobweb-laden door and finding a skeleton at the microphone, Graeme takes over and in a stunning burst of power-crazed lunacy, reels off one of the best batches of imitations ever recorded. Former targets Walter Gabriel ("Oh deaaar, oh deaaar") and Eddie Waring (a heap of babble which requires an interpreter) aren't spared, nor is Jimmy Savile ("clunk, click, aaahaaa!") and Alan "Fluff" Freeman ("Hi there pop pickers ..."). While Graeme is moonlighting as DJ Emperor Caligula, he introduces "Tony Blackburn" - a miniature lookalike wooden dummy who he sits up on his knee and provides its voice ventriloquist-style. T: "Well Enkeror … look at me when I'm talkin' to yer! … Well Enkeror, I only like gugglegum music." EC: "You only like bubblegum music, Tony, m'boy?" T: "Yes, and especially …" (T goes out of control at this stage, and starts attacking EC) EC: "Watch it, Tony! Watch it."… (EC regains control of T and sits him back on his knee again) T: "Especially … Little Jimmy … Osmond!". Emperor Caligula then roars "Thank you, Tony Blackburn!" and has great delight in hurling "Tony" off his knee and well away out of camera shot!
In these heady days of the mid-70s, The Goodies was not only one of the most popular shows on British TV; they were also one of the top-selling musical groups with five Top-20 singles in the UK charts in 1975. Graeme sums up the situation at the time very astutely with the following recollection from the 2005 special "Return Of The Goodies": "It then became a little awkward because we had records out and we needed to be on Tony Blackburn's playlist. We thought we could either start being nice about him, which would be totally mealy-mouthed and unacceptable, or we could just go on sending him up but invite him onto the show and send him up"
That particular show proved to be "Scatty Safari", made in the middle of the classic Series 5 in March 1975 just as the music career of The Goodies was really hitting its peak as well. The Goodies are running a Star Safari Park with wondrous creatures like Steptoe and Son, Liberace, Dick Emery and Monty Python's Gumbies being on parade in their natural habitat for hordes of camera-clicking tourists to marvel at. However Bill finds it all a bit too much hard work with having to give Racquel Welsh a rubdown and heaving a bucket of slops at Oliver Reed, so he is mortified when he sees Tim taking a fancy supper to the park's number one attraction. B: "Good grief! Here I am ravenous and you're giving that lot to Tony Blackburn?!" T: "It's Tony the visitors come to see. He deserves a little luxury. (walks into Blackburn's stable) There's a good boy. Nice din-dins for Tonykins!" B (scornfully, to Graeme): "Honestly! The way he talks to him, you'd think he was human!"
However Tim soon emerges from the stable in a very upset state, blubbering that all is not well with Tony (as Bill rubs his hands together with glee and callously chirps "Ah, he won't want his supper then, will he?!") and Graeme confirms that their star exhibit is fading fast. B (bluntly): "Don't worry, he was a bit past it really, wasn't he?" T: (indignantly): "Tony? Past it?!" B: "Yeah he's getting on a bit y'know. I mean, you count his teeth! Be honest, he's got hundreds!" Graeme humanely fetches a rifle, but is stopped by Tim, who insists that it's his duty to put Blackburn out of his misery because "… he knows me, he trusts me, I must be the one to do it." Unfortunately (or fortunately for Blackburn at least!) Tim can't pluck up enough courage to fire the fatal shot himself, and then scares the hell out of Bill and Graeme (who have their ears covered awaiting the bang!) when he re-emerges, shrieking: "I couldn't do it! Those big brown eyes looking up at me. I swear he could understand every word I said. I just couldn't do it!". Bill enthusiastically offers to have a go instead, but Tim comes to the conclusion that Blackburn isn't sick after all, but merely pining for his freedom and the call of the wild, so they decide to release him instead.
The crate containing Blackburn is transported to an open meadow on the roof of the Star Safari Park van and then less-than-carefully heaved onto the ground upside down. Blackburn emerges and then rubs his eyes from the glare of the sunlight before running in epic fashion across the meadow to his freedom to the theme music of 'Black Beauty' upon the urging of the Goodies. In the middle of the meadow and free at last, he pauses and waves goodbye, but sadly his freedom doesn't last for long as he is brutally cut down with a shotgun blast from a big game hunter, who pauses, grunts with approval, marks a notch on his gun and gruffly declares: "And now for Jimmy Young!"
Tim sheds bucketfuls of tears back at the Star Safari Park after Blackburn's demise, as Bill tries to console him. B: "I know you miss him, but you see, Tony's happy now. He's up there romping merrily in that great Radio 1 club in the sky." T: "Oh I don't care about him anymore, it's just that without a big star we're not going to make any more money. Stuff Tony Blackburn!" B (excitedly): "That's an idea!" T: "No, the visitors would notice." B: "No they wouldn't. Hardly any difference!" Of course, following Tony's demise, the Goodies eventually find an even bigger star for their safari park … Rolf … Plaster Of Harris … but he'll be the subject of a separate article of his own later!
Bill also touches on Blackburn's role in "Scatty Safari" while reminiscing for "Return Of The Goodies", saying: "And of course, he did exactly the right thing of enjoying the joke and coming along and allowing himself to be the butt of the joke." Blackburn was even able to indulge in a little cross-promotion when hosting The Goodies on "Top Of The Pops" shortly after "Scatty Safari" was screened, telling his audience: "I don't know if you ever watch BBC2 at 9 o'clock like I do, fabulous show called The Goodies, very funny. After what they did to me last week, I think they've got a cheek showing their faces in here, but I shall forgive them."
Blackburn then ends up making a second guest appearance on The Goodies" in 1975 in the special "Goodies Rule OK". As part of the rebellion against the repressively boring Standing Party government, the Goodies are now known as the 'unmentionables', and after they cause havoc with the St.Valentines Day custard pie massacre, they seek refuge in underground 'joke-easys'. Their mission involves finding all of the banned entertainers who now have other jobs and reviving their careers. Their cruise around the streets at breakneck pace in a big black limo sees them rounding up forgotten stars, including Tommy Cooper and Rolf Harris (who has three legs kicking away out the window after being snaffled!), and eventually they spy a rather lairily-dressed Tony Blackburn reading a paper on a street corner. They slow down and he approaches the car, smiling at the notion that someone wants him at last, but after a few shakes of heads, the car rapidly speeds away, leaving a poor rejected Tony crying in the street!
After Blackburn's two live appearances on The Goodies in Series 5, it's back to the traditional Goodies verbal and visual means of insulting him in the next series. In "Lips Or Almighty Cod", Graeme is still desperately trying to annoy his camp cod Brian and the other fish at his farm to make them cranky enough to scare away the ever-menacing Eskimos from Britain's waterways. Tim and Bill have long given up on such a stupid concept, but Graeme is determined to discover the scientific breakthough of how to annoy fish: "All right. 1001 Ways To Make You Cross - chapter 38! (bellows into huge megaphone) Noel Gordon is TV Personality Of The Year. Again! The Radio Times is the biggest selling magazine in Europe (almost losing his voice!) TONY BLACKBURN! Oh dear, doesn't anything get you going?!"
Then at the start of the next episode "Hype Pressure", Graeme is attempting to learn the guitar with the assistance of an interesting literary source - a book called 'Play The Guitar My Way - And Other Jokes' by Tony Blackburn! Blackburn's hidden guitar skills sadly don't get to rub off on Graeme, for each jangling note he plays draws a complaint from Bill. who is desperately trying to write some more sure-fire, number one, chartbusting songs without success and is merely getting further distracted by Graeme's background racket.
The final two series of BBC episodes and also the LWT one go by without any further mention of Blackburn as the Goodies seem to focus on other targets in later episodes. Perhaps the use of Blackburn as a target unintentionally coincided with the flow of The Goodies' own music career which was at its peak at the time around Series 5 and 6 but then ebbed away as the 70s drew to a close. Still Blackburn obviously relished his guest roles and sendups, judging by his appearance on Bill's "This Is Your Life" in 2001 and contributions to the "Return Of The Goodies" special in 2005. On "This Is Your Life", Blackburn walks onto the stage as one of a trio of "Goodies survivors" along with Frank Thornton (the punk toastmaster in "Punky Business") and Henry McGee (the Music Master / Nasty Person), joining host Michael Aspel who is himself a Goodies survivor, having lived to tell the tale of being squashed by Kitten Kong's giant paw almost 30 years earlier!
Blackburn's recollections of his role in "Scatty Safari" on "This Is Your Life" go as follows: "Yes well I was actually in the Celebrity Theme Park, I don't know if you remember this …" (Bill (chortling): "Oh well, of course we remember it!" with Tim and Graeme grinning in the background) "I was kept in a stable and there was a time when I yearned for my freedom, so you released me very kindly into a field, I galloped off and then you shot me! (with footage of the dastardly deed screening in the background) And I still survived it, we had a great time, really enjoyed it!" Blackburn was equally effusive about being a Goodies target when interviewed for "Return Of The Goodies" and a couple of his quotes from this show are further proof that he's a good sport: "I was a running gag in the show, which for any performer, anybody on radio or television, is a delight … The whole of my life I've been sent up by everybody and I love it. And the Goodies did a marvellous job." That they did, for sure!
1/3 Give Police A Chance
"Who's that poof?!"
2/13 Double Trouble
Tony is in the running for Nicest Person Of The Year ... at juicy odds too!
3/1 The New Office
Take that, Tony!
4/3 Hospital For Hire
Cures sunburn, heartburn ... and Tony Blackburn!
5/3 Chubby Chumps
Emperor Caligula and "Tony"
Watch it, Tony!
"Especially ... Little Jimmy ... Osmond!"
"Thank you Tony Blackburn!"
5/6 Scatty Safari
Waiting for the big bang - Tim shooting Tony!
Ready for release
On the run to freedom
Thanks for everything
"Now for Jimmy Young!"
Special - Goodies Rule OK
No, don't pick him up!
Nobody loves me (sob)!
6/1 Lips Or Almighty Cod
Even roaring Tony's name doesn't annoy stupid fish!
6/2 Hype Pressure
An interesting source of inspiration for Graeme's guitar playing!
Special (2005) Return Of The Goodies
Tony Blackburn as DJ and TV host in the 1970s
Tony reminiscing for the Goodies special