Bill is having a challenging game of chess with Graeme while Tim demands complete silence as he watches a riveting game of Test cricket on TV. Bill reckons that he has Graeme's measure until Graeme consults with his computer and returns with the winning move. Bill warns Graeme that his queen is in danger if he places it where the computer has told him to, but Graeme scoffs and proceeds with the move, only for Bill to whack the queen with a mallet in sheer frustration. Tim tells them both to be quiet and gets excited because a cover point fielder actually moves for the first time in a Test match since 1937, but Bill finds cricket very boring. Tim sneers "I wouldn't expect you to appreciate cricket anyway; it's a gentleman's game.", then makes a patriotic speech which claims that the Commonwealth was founded on cricket because England was surrounded by greasy wops, frogs, krauts and dagos (charming!), and so they had to colonize faraway places to keep alive the noble art of playing Test cricket to draw, rather than win, to which Bill responds that cricket is "upper-class, fascist and reactionary".
These comments set off a heated argument between Bill and Tim about keeping politics out of sport, during which Graeme answers the phone and informs the others that they have been summoned to the office of the Minister of Sport for a very important job. After having much trouble in boarding the trandem in the correct order (with the trandem eventually taking off on its own accord and leaving them scrambling along behind in pursuit), the Goodies arrive exhausted at the Minister of Sport which is located at the top of a long steep staircase inside the clockface of Big Ben. The minister (who is reading a book titled "Teach Yourself Sport", being a novice to the portfolio) informs them that following a disagreement, all other member countries have left the Commonwealth except the August Bank Holiday Island (so tiny that it is located via a microscope attached to a spinning globe of the world) and the Goodies are required as a matter of "the utmost national importance" to train the British athletic team to peak fitness to compete against the islanders in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
As the August Bank Holiday Island was reluctant to participate in the Commonwealth Games, the British government has had to persuade it to compete by offering the control of the Commonwealth to the winning nation; a prospect that gets Bill chuckling away with hilarity at the consequences of an upset victory by the islanders. The Goodies accept the job just as they are being forced out of the Minister's office by the thunderous racket and choking dust cloud from the hourly chiming of Big Ben (while the Minister stoically sits at his desk with earplugs in and utters "Jolly good!") and he comes to visit them later in the comparative serenity of their own office to provide further details on the upcoming Games. As the Minister considers the mission to be too politically important to entrust to mere athletes ("I mean, one careless remark in the showers and wellll ...!"), the British Commonwealth Games team consists of a group of ageing MP's. However the politicians are ruled out when they all fail the sex test (a sequence which has been censored from the surviving copy by ABC TV Australia), so the Goodies are required to be the new team members for Britain; having already passed the sex test according to the Minister's secretary (which draws a rather cheeky expression from Tim).
The Goodies flight leaves for the August Bank Holiday Island just half an hour later, so they use the time wisely to get some athletics training in. After they struggle to mount the trandem while carrying a weightlifting barbell the Goodies eventually motor along thanks to rockets attached to both sides of the weights and they embark on a very physical workout, as Tim writhes and bounces in all directions (rather like a wounded Funky Gibbon!) after getting wrapped up in a muscle spring and Graeme gives Bill such a vigorous leg massage that he is eventually able to tie Bill's legs in knots and knead them like dough.
The Goodies are flown to the island by helicopter; holding on for dear life to ropes that dangle from it while seated aboard the trandem. Upon arrival they are greeted by a small welcoming committee (including an islander who appears to be conducting a band, but the music is actually coming from a turntable at his feet) and have their hats shot off by a 3-gun military salute. A young native girl firstly tosses flowers at the Goodies, but then pelts them with a barrage of fruit as they rapidly retreat to their team headquarters. This consists of a small wooden shack with 'Whitey Go Home' daubed on it and is quite a bit more spartan than the island team's multi-storey luxury hotel!
The Minister of Sport is somehow already there inside the shack waiting for them and tells them that although most of the island is as "flat as a pancake", the athletics stadium is on the top of a "ruddy great mountain" more than 7500 metres high that no Englishman has yet managed to climb and that they have 25 minutes to climb the peak and get acclimatised to the high altitude before the Games begin. . Because the Minister also hasn't got the hang of decimals yet, he claims that the mountain could be up to 20 miles in height and that there will be no air at all, which causes Tim to tearfully blubber "We're all going to die!". Due to the lack of oxygen and possible weightlessness, the Minister forces the Goodies to wear special running shoes which have been designed by British scientific boffins and weigh an absolute ton; giving them some early acclimatisation by sucking all of the air out of the cabin with a vacuum cleaner (then promptly leaving and opening the door, causing a huge intake of air which sends the Goodies flying in all directions!)
Despite Graeme's protestations that he has calculated that the mountain won't be anywhere near 20 miles high and Bill's reluctance, the Minister firmly insists that the Goodies must wear the special running shoes as the boffins have spent many months developing them. Ten minutes later, the opening ceremony is underway and the island team, which consists of one athlete and his 7 year-old son, is cheered on merrily by the small crowd of fellow islanders while the Goodies receive a dutiful wave from the island King but are roundly booed by the crowd and again pelted with fruit by the young girl as they slowly march past.
While the island athlete sails over the high jump bar, the weight of the running prevents Graeme from getting off the ground at all (falling flat on his face over the bar) and it is a similar story in the hurdles with the native athletes flying over the barriers (or underneath them in the case of the young boy) while the leaden-footed Goodies crash into the hurdles and are left way behind. Tim can't even climb into the boxing ring and is eventually lowered in from a platform on a crane, but he falls straight through the floor of the ring, giving the island boxer an instant win by knockout. Bill fares a little better as the heavy shoes at least stop him from hitting the deck from the barrage of blows from the island boy. When the boy eventually wears himself out from throwing so many punches, Bill is declared the winner, but then he falls through the platform of the victory dais and the boy is given the gold medal because he is standing taller!. Just when Tim finally manages to take to the air, he wraps himself around the pole vault bar and spins out of control several times, then sinks in quicksand after a reasonable leap into the long jump pit. Bill ends up with an exploding grenade as a shot put and also gets attacked by a crocodile in the water jump of the steeplechase, as the Goodies get thrashed in every single event.
The final points tally is 185 to 1/2 and the Commonwealth Charter is presented to the King of the island to melodious strains of 'God Save Our August Bank Holiday Island King' on the turntable while the Goodies and the Minister stand with shamed expressions in the background as their British flag slowly wilts. Back at the office, Tim is about to blow his brains out after one final patriotic speech about the end of the British Empire, then points the gun at a petrified Bill and Graeme who are trying to get out the door and leave him to it. The Minister re-appears just in time and tells them the good news that the former member countries have all rejoined the Commonwealth under the new August Bank Holiday Island king … except for Britain, which has been expelled because it's not good enough at sport!
* Tim: "Picture us, the English. That proud indomitable island race surrounded by a load of non cricket-playing frogs, wops, krauts and greasy dagos. But were we downhearted? No! Generations of Englishmen sallied forth to the uttermost ends of the earth to seek out ignorant savages to teach them the traditions of English justice, respect for the Queen and how to play cricket so that we could send out to them our ambassadors for goodwill, crack Test teams of first-class players, and beat the living daylights out of them!
Bill (derisively): "Aha so that's all we care about is it? Winning!"
Tim (matter-of-factly): "Bill, you do not play cricket to win. You play it to draw!"
* Graeme: "August Bank Holiday Island! Where's that?"
Minister of Sport: "Between Easter Island and Christmas Island!"
* Minister of Sport (new to the job, regarding the Commonwealth Games): "It's sort of an international hockey competition."
Graeme (correcting him): "Athletics."
Minister: "Athletics. Yes I knew horses came into it somewhere!"
* Minister of Sport (regarding the welcoming committee): "Yes, excitable chappies, aren't they? I suppose they gave you the traditional August Bank Holiday Island welcome."
Graeme (stunned): "They fired rifles at us!"
Minister of Sport: "Yes, that's it!"
* In their chess match, Bill tells Graeme that his Queen is in danger if he puts it on a certain square. Graeme, having consulted his computer for the best play, duly puts it there and Bill endangers it by smashing it to bits with a wooden mallet.
* The office of the Minister of Sport high inside the tower of Big Ben with the clock workings ticking away in the background. The secretary brings the Minister cotton wool on the hour instead of a cuppa, as the whole office quakes with the chiming and the Goodies beat a hasty retreat from the deafening and dusty racket.
* A crocodile lurching out of the water jump in the steeplechase event and chomping on Bill's leg.
Reginald Marsh, Valerie Stanton
God Save Our August Bank Holiday Island King
Beanz Meanz Heanz - "My Favourite Dream"
Square Deal Surge (Stained Shirts)
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
Being a long-lost black & white episode gives it considerable novelty value; however this doesn't completely disguise a fairly pedestrian plot with hardly any classic quotes and only a few good visual gags in some of the athletics scenes. There is a real flatness about the Games sequence itself because the Goodies are made to be so non-competitive with their heavy shoes rather than at least giving a bit of a spark or having fun along the way. Perhaps the best aspect is the music, including the catchy 'Far Away' and the clever send-up of the national anthem at the end.
BLACK PUDDING RATING
The Minister Of Sport's Office inside Big Ben
Finding the August Bank Holiday Island via microscope
Graeme whipping Bill into shape for the Games
A rough ride to the island holding on below a helicopter
The island's welcoming committee - "excitable chappies!"
Britain's team hut on the island
The stadium is at the top of the mountain
Bill getting belted in the boxing ring
Tim strikes quicksand in the long jump pit
Bill and croc at the steeplechase
The island King receives the Commonwealth Charter