» 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
6. GOODIES TARGETS – NICHOLAS PARSONS
Christopher Nicholas Parsons was born in Lincolnshire in 1923 and after studying engineering at university, he made his film debut in 1947. He then worked with comedian Arthur Haynes during the 1950s and appeared regularly on the Benny Hill Show from 1969 to 1974. However his best-known media roles are as the host of game show 'Sale Of The Century' from 1971 to 1983 (closely paralleling the run of The Goodies) and also the long-running radio show 'Just A Minute' which first started back in 1967. His somewhat egotistical and patronising hosting manner served to make him a regular target of The Goodies from Series 5 onwards.
He first bobs up on the Goodies' radar in "Frankenfido" where Graeme, chastened by the success of Tim's dog Cuddly Scamp (Bill in a dog suit) in winning the Obedience & Intelligence Prize at Crufts, decides to "make something" which will win the Grand Champions Parade the next day. A stormy night and a jumble of electrical cables fulfil two of his main prerequisites, so Graeme only needs the "finest quality parts" that are on his "chopping list" to complete the task. Tim is worried that Graeme is going around "chopping up poor little innocent doggies" but Graeme is actually hellbent on chopping up all sorts of creatures, as evidenced by the sparkling set of teeth that he has managed to procure: "Look. Teeth. You wouldn't find teeth like these on a mere dog." T: "What are they? Horse, alligator, tiger ..."
G (opens box to reveal glittering diamond-studded teeth): "Look at them."
T (shocked): "No! Not Donny Osmond!" G: "Yep."
T (in horrified indignation): "You ... you've been using people! ... And Donny Osmond!!"
A shocked Tim continues reading from Graeme's "chopping list": "Nicholas Parsons' hair, Robin Day's brain, Yul Brynner's legs … You haven't got them, have you?!" G: "Very nearly. In fact, I've got Robin Day's legs (holds up a leg with a pair of glasses and a bow tie attached), Nicholas Parsons' brain (displays a jar with a little blob floating in it) and Yul Brynner's hair (a tiny tuft of fluff)."
Later in the same series, Bill is desperate for the hand of Mildred Makepeace in "Cunning Stunts", but he is only permitted to marry her if he can make her insufferably grumpy father, Sir Joshua Makepeace, laugh again. Having earlier failed dismally when Sir Joshua took offence to Bill's unintended impersonation of him, a love-smitten Bill is then sacked from The Goodies by Tim and Graeme and he returns to see Sir Joshua with his tale of woe. Bill tells him despairingly "Those so-called friends, those callous swine have given me the boot, they ... they threw me out and fobbed me off with a rotten old piece of cheese. Then ... they tried to replace me with ... (shamed pause) ... Nicholas Parsons! I mean, I do have my pride! I am a man!" On the upside for Bill, the very thought of this utter humiliation is the trigger for Sir Joshua to finally start cackling away and his chuckles turn into full-blown hysterics when Bill tells him that Tim and Graeme even interviewed "a wooden model of Roger Moore ... actually it could have been the real Roger Moore!" However on the downside, Bill is still unable to marry Mildred because she has already left home in frustration at putting up with her "miserable old twit" of a father.
As if the mere mention of Nicholas Parsons isn't scary enough for the average Goodies fan, the lads take it a step further in the first episode of Series 6, "Lips Or Almighty Cod". The Goodies need to find a way to scare off the Eskimos, who have extended their fishing limits 2000 miles to the south and have merrily made off with all of the cod in Britain, except for Graeme's giant, hand-reared "limp finned pansy" Brian. Referring to the troublesome Eskimos, Graeme ponders: "They're still out there. How are we going to scare them off?" Bill: "Er ... Nicholas Parsons masks?!" (holds up mask)
G (scornfully): "Nicholas Parsons masks don't scare any ... (catches sight of mask) AAARRRGGH!"
Tim (also startled): "Ohhhh! That might frighten us, but it won't work on the Eskimos. Our Nicholas is very big on Eskimo television. Does Whale Of The Century - they love him!"
G (appalled): "Love him?! Good God, we're dealing with savages!!"
While the sight of the Nicholas Parsons masks may not be enough to bother the Eskimos, Bill is at least optimistic that it will have the desired effect of annoying Graeme's fish so that they will go on the attack and scare away those unwanted Greenlanders. Waving the mask at the goldfish tank, Bill bellows "Slime, slime, grease, grease! Slime, slime, patronise, patronise!!" in a vain attempt to simulate Parsons' ingratiating repartee with his audience during program interludes. Unfortunately Parsons only falls into the "minor irrit" category along with Tim's Eskimo phrase book and attempted insulting of a goldfish ("You're all the same, you rotten lousy fish. You're stupid, what are ya?! You're stew-pid!") and it ultimately takes something of 24 carat gold-plated annoyance to get Graeme's camp cod to transform into a fearless killer of the deep – the never-ending crooning of Max Bygraves which has already been discussed in detail in themed article #3.
The episode "2001 And A Bit" also gives Nicholas Parsons a name-check and a stir for good measure when an ancient Tim Brooke-Taylor and his young son Bill venture to the long-neglected MCC headquarters and he spies his two old chums Bill and Graeme for the first time in many years. Tim approaches them with a raspy "Hello old friends, do you remember me?" and Graeme answers with a blunt "Aaah … no!". Graeme and Bill briefly dither over who this stranger is before Graeme announces "Look at this everybody. A face from the past. It's Nicholas Parsons!" Tim is then roundly booed by Bill and the other old cricketers and he is pelted with fruit from all directions before he finally halts the barrage by telling them "It's your old friend Timbo".
The much-loved (or is it loathed?!) Nicholas Parsons masks make a return visit in "Scoutrageous"; again for a rather cruel purpose. Bill and Graeme are going for their newly-created scouting badges and what better way to earn their Wigspotter's Badge than by scaring the hair off innocent passers-by with the gratuitous brandishing of a mask featuring Parsons' smug-looking mug. The scheme almost comes unstuck though when Graeme foolishly takes a peek at the mask himself, but he must have built up a level of immunity as he merely gives a sickened grimace rather than flipping his wig like the rest of his victims!
The final series of The Goodies at the BBC has a further three references to Nicholas Parsons scattered through it. In "Politics" when Che and Timita become coalition Prime Ministers, the televising of Parliament features Graeme in a number of wacky hosting roles, along with the narration of "Later in the show we've got 'Sale Of The Century' with Nicholas Parsons (a close-up of Parsons appears on screen) where the lucky contestants could take home with them a year's supply of Armourlite rifles and ammunition, 200 rocket launchers or ten French Mirage fighter jets."
"A Kick In The Arts" has Tim being towed around the golf course in a buggy by Graeme (with Bill wheeling his clubs along) while discussing the money he has raised for the British Olympic Team from his Pro Celebrity Sports Night. Tim: "Of course, there's my expenses to cover. Ah there's celebrities fees, twelve bottles of scent for Henry Cooper … Then there's 500 pounds for Nicholas Parsons …" Bill (indignantly): "500 pounds for Nicholas Parsons?!" T (matter-of-factly): "Not to turn up!" B (approvingly): "Oh!" G: "Well worth it." T: "Oh yeah!"
"U-Friend Or UFO" sees the Goodies in panic mode as the mysterious trombone-loving aliens have taken over the BBC broadcast feed. Graeme (shocked): Well they've obviously tuned in to all of the TV wavelengths. Just imagine, suppose they got their whole idea about human beings are like from watching television." Bill (disgusted): "Good grief, they probably think we're a race of Nicholas Parsons!" This is immediately followed by a huge raspberry-like trombone blast from the aliens and the Goodies, looking skyward in unison, yell "Fair comment!" A worried Graeme continues: "A race of Nicholas Parsons! If they've got any moral feelings at all …" B: "They'll blast us out of the universe!"
The move of The Goodies from the BBC to LWT doesn't find Parsons totally spared from their barbs, as part of the Goodies Proficiency Test in "Change Of Life" sees them having to flee from a cardboard cutout of Parsons mounted on wheels. Tim pulls a terrified facial expression at the horrible sight that is rolling towards him, only to be penalized 5 points for overacting, and the Goodies eventually take off in a very wobbly fashion on their blue trandem with Graeme's computer taunting "Run, run, Nicholas is after you!". Mercifully the Robot steps in and spectacularly disposes of "Nicholas" with a well-aimed rocket and the Goodies cheer with delight as they make their getaway.
In the commentary track which the three Goodies recently recorded for "Change Of Life" for the release of the LWT episodes on DVD, they briefly comment on Parsons when this sequence appears, with lines such as "(He) never misses a cue" and "He looks so young" … "So did we!", but surprisingly nothing is said when "Nicholas" gets blown up by the Robot. Perhaps Tim best sums up the situation in one of his Q&A interviews for the Goodies Clarion & Globe in 1997: "Nicholas Parsons I know very well and I honestly don't think it occurs to him that we were being rude. But we certainly were."
And now, a final Goodies / Nicholas Parsons anecdote. At the Kitten Kon Goodies convention in Melbourne in 2000, the committee came up with a number of novelty Goodies merchandise items to sell at the front counter. These included badges, black puddings, pieces of string … and yes, even Nicholas Parsons masks! These sold so well (we shifted 3 of them at $1 each!) that we resorted to giving the remaining ones away on the final afternoon (not surprisingly, still nobody wanted one!) and so Tim took one back to England with his luggage (see the photo gallery).
Apparently the three Goodies were meeting with each other shortly after Tim's return from Australia and he produced the Nicholas Parsons mask at an opportune moment and waved it at the others. History hasn't recorded whether their hair flew off in horror or whether they were just rather annoyed like Graeme's stupid fish should have been, but the sight of Parsons was bound to create some very amusing dialogue just as it inevitably did in The Goodies itself.
Nicholas Parsons ... then and now.
Nicholas's brain has gone to the dogs!
5/10 Cunning Stunts
"Then they tried to replace me with ... Nicholas Parsons!"
6/1 Lips Or Almighty Cod
How to scare away unwanted Greenlanders!
Nicholas Parsons masks don't scare any ... AAARRRGGGHH!
"Slime slime grease grease! Slime slime patronise patronise!!"
6/6 2001 And A Bit
"It's Nicholas Parsons ... BOO!!"
"Or you can go for your Wigspotters Badge ... !"
A hair-raising sight!
Don't look, Graeme!
8/4 U-Friend Or UFO
9/4 Change Of Life
Flippin' heck, look who's coming!
It's Nicholas, though not all that he's cut out to be.
"Overacting. Lose 5 points!"
'Run, run, Nicholas is after you!"
... But not for long, thanks to the Robot. Take that, Nicholas!
Tim's Nicholas Parsons mask about to be sent packing!