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A Collection Of Goodies Media Interviews
Goodies - The Herald - 2005 - Print Email PDF 
Posted by bretta 27/12/2009

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FEATURE ARTICLE

(contributed by Lisa Manekofsky)

 

(from C&G #111  February 2005)

 

GOODIES INTERVIEW FROM THE HERALD

 

from online edition of The Herald

(http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/33329.html  )

 

"A bumper bundle of Goodies"

 

by Beth Pearson  February 14 2005

 

How daytime television has changed. Once it was the Goodies; now it's the Goodies on chatshows. Tim Brooke-Taylor, 65, and Graeme Garden, 62, are clean-shaven and suited - in blue and brown, respectively - because they may be appearing on Deirdre & Ken later that day (that's Richard & Judy to everyone outwith the room). Naturally, Bill Oddie, 64, may also be appearing with them but has an overgrown goatee and is dressed in a loose, bohemian shirt and sandy hillwalking trousers, which appear to have a tear near the groin.

 

We're here because the Goodies have a new DVD out. They're pleased: the episodes on it have been remastered, thereby removing the graininess of the originals which irritated them. But connoisseurs of new DVDs will notice an omission: there is no amusing out-take section. In many DVDs this comprises no more than actors corpsing or ad-libbing inappropriately (a sort of highly-styled showcase for the astounding personality behind the character).

 

The Goodies, with all their low-tech special effects, props and malfunctioning trandem, could have done an out-take section justice. If they had any. "We never had any out-takes," says Garden. He deadpans a lot, so initially it appears he's pretending they never made any mistakes. He isn't.

 

"At that stage, you couldn't waste tape," says Oddie, earnestly. "You'd tape over them." It transpires Oddie was responsible for a proportion of such taping-over. "Bill used to fart a lot, that was the thing that always had to be cut out," says Brooke-Taylor.

 

Oddie pauses before giving his defence. He regularly adopts a pretend posh accent, which he appears to do to indicate that he should not be taken seriously. "You do realise I've a reputation for being somewhat dignified these days," he says. "This is not going to do me any good."

 

Will Oddie's farting present a problem for the forthcoming live show in Australia (where the Goodies are immensely popular: fan clubs, conventions, the lot)? "It'll be the making of it," says Garden, definitely deadpanning.

 

"It's like saying David Attenborough farts," objects Oddie; posh again. "It's not funny."

 

"But there were lots of things that went wrong and they were very funny," says Brooke-Taylor. "Usually you were having to pretend to be bold and some rabbit would pop up in the wrong place. There were moments we were dressed in mice costumes and we were in a field and you'd think, 'Wait a minute, we've all got degrees, you know'."

 

"It does undermine your authority somewhat, going up to the director and saying, 'For God's sake, how are we shooting this?'," says Oddie. "Then you realise you're dressed as a mouse. Tim and I were particularly bad at giggling. There was at least one section where we had to be separated and put in separate studios."

 

Thirty years on, this is perfectly conceivable. Of course, they're doing different things now (Brooke-Taylor and Garden chiefly on Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and Oddie with wildlife programming), but the trio have a natural dynamic that could only have been developed out of years of each other's company, which began as students at Cambridge.

 

Brooke-Taylor and Oddie are the wayward ones, liable to go off on tangents, while Garden, who was born in Aberdeen, is the laconic observer who, when he does speak, says something more incisive in fewer words than his blethering colleagues (they testify to this). While making the Goodies, his caution tempered the boyish enthusiasm of the other two. Indeed, it saved them from injury.

 

"Mr Wise, we called him," says Brooke-Taylor, nodding to Garden. "That wasn't usually about censorship, though," says Oddie. "It's because he was off investing our money in stocks and shares." "Get down, get down!" says Brooke-Taylor, starting another anecdote. "Yes, he was bossy," agrees Oddie. "We had quite a lot of explosions going on and it could be dangerous. Tim and I basically worked on the 'keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best' principle, but Graeme knew what was going on."

 

"I was the one who could count," says Garden, dryly reducing the issue to its essential point. "The directors would say, 'There'll be three large explosions just in front of you, then you can run out'. There'd be two and these two would jump up, so I'd say, 'keep down'." "At which point Tim and I would say, 'oo-ooh'," says Oddie.

 

It appears all were reluctantly cautious when it came to deciding the content of the shows. In contemporary terms, the Goodies was like the Simpsons (a comparison they themselves adhere to). It contained much cartoon-like visual comedy, yet also framed with humour some of the most topical and challenging social and political issues of its time. They draw a clear distinction between each of these components. "It was never whether things were funny, it was whether we'd get away with it," says Brooke-Taylor.  "They're two very different things," agrees Oddie.

 

"Mary Whitehouse liked us, which is something we had to put right," says Brooke-Taylor. "After the first series, she actually sent us a telegram of congratulations and we've never been more ashamed in our lives."

 

The furthest they went on screen was their South Africa programme, which was made at the height of apartheid (and is included on the new DVD).

 

From one perspective, politics was the backbone of the show, since Oddie, Garden and Brooke-Taylor's amplified alter-egos represented the respective pillars of socialism, intelligentsia and establishment. The other perspective is, of course, that the serious stuff was just part of the fun.

 

Did they need to deal with important issues? "We were very happy to be silly, but at the same time it was fun to be anti-establishment," says Brooke-Taylor. "I represented the establishment, so the way around that was to make me look totally stupid. In the seventies I was passionately royal, but in the eighties that would have been quite tricky because the National Front had come forward, so we'd have had to have taken a completely different route."

 

"The show was broadly satirical in that it tended to send up current movies or fashions or trends as well as the politics," says Garden. "We'd have things like kung-fu movies, then later we sent up Andrew Lloyd Webber and Maggie Thatcher. All the butts - Rolf Harris, Tony Blackburn - they've all had happy and successful careers."

 

"But that was affection," says Oddie.

"Rolf Harris wasn't," says Brooke-Taylor.

"That's Tim talking," says Oddie. "I quite like Rolfie. He's very talented."

"He's very egotistical," says Brooke-Taylor.

 

It occurs to Brooke-Taylor not long after this minor altercation that the Goodies may have been more popular in Scotland than in England because the anti-establishment theme struck a chord. "Ah yes, it's all clear now," he says. This theory may also hold for their enduring popularity in Australia, but what's not clear is why the Goodies significance to the history and continued development of British comedy appears subsumed beneath reverence for one of its contemporaries: Monty Python. In spite of repeated name-checks by leading comedians, the Goodies appear rather under-appreciated in the grand scale of things. But Garden is here to provide perspective: "I'd worry more if they said it was over-appreciated," he says.

 

Oddie, of course, is becoming well-known, and well-regarded, for his wildlife programmes, most recently on BBC 2 with How To Watch Wildlife. During filming for the Goodies, Oddie would use his birding knowledge to influence shooting locations and bored his colleagues with bird identification.

 

"I was impressed when he started to spot American birds in England that shouldn't have been in England," concedes Brooke-Taylor. "That was the time I began to admire what he was doing. Then one day he said, 'Is that a chiff chaff on the Volvo?'"

"That remains the name of my unwritten autobiography," says Oddie.

"It was a great moment," says Brooke-Taylor.

"Those were the days, cricket on the lawn and chiff chaff on the Volvo," says Oddie, once more in his posh voice.

 

They say they haven't changed much over the years - their sense of humour and beliefs are largely intact - and, perhaps accordingly, the events of the time - Thatcher, apartheid - seem longer ago than the Goodies does.

 

The Goodies ... At Last A Second Helping is out now on Network.

 

 




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