When the three Goodies attended Cambridge University in the early 1960s, their fellow students included John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, who would all go on to become members of the famous comedy troupe, Monty Python. All six students joined the Cambridge University Footlights Club at different stages, with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Eric Idle succeeding each other as Footlights President from 1963 to 1965.
From 1964 to 1973, John Cleese worked with the three Goodies (plus David Hatch and Jo Kendall) on the legendary BBC Radio comedy 'I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again'; the four of them having already performed together in the Cambridge Footlights review 'A Clump of Plinths' (later renamed 'Cambridge Circus') in 1963. Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese and Graham Chapman (along with Marty Feldman) worked together in 'At Last ... the 1948 Show', while Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie participated in 'Twice a Fortnight' alongside future Monty Python members Michael Palin and Terry Jones (plus Jonathan Lynn), so there was a considerable amount of collaboration between the various comedians even as 'The Goodies' and 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' went their own ways and developed their own comedy styles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It is therefore not surprising that the Goodies managed to work a number of good-natured digs at their friends and comedy rivals, the Monty Python crew, into their own comedy material, particularly at the perception that the visual effects of The Goodies meant that it was merely a "kid's program" compared to the supposedly grown-up sophistication of Monty Python's humour.
The first Monty Python reference occurs in Series 4 episode 'Invasion of the Moon Creatures' where Graeme is busy filling out his captain's log after the spaceship carrying Tim and Bill has crashed heavily on the moon. Graeme starts off with duly solemn gravitas ("Captain's log, star date February 18th, time 10:15. It is with deep regret that I ...") but suddenly stops with an abrupt exclamation of "10:15?!" and quickly turns on his TV monitor. The monitor features the theme sequence of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' bursting into full swing, but Graeme turns it off just as quickly in disgust, muttering "Blast! Missed Moira Anderson!", as he was hoping to catch 'Stars On Sunday' instead.
The Series 4 special 'The Goodies & the Beanstalk' has perhaps the best Monty Python reference of all as it features the one and only cameo appearance of John Cleese in The Goodies. Right at the very end of the episode, the Goodies still find themselves broke and starving, so Tim polishes up the old bean tin in the hope that he might "get a few quid for it". However Tim's polishing only succeeds in summoning up a John Cleese genie who announces "And now for something completely different ...!", only to be told to "Push off!" by an annoyed Tim. This causes Genie John to nastily sneer "Kid's program!", but Tim traps him inside the tin again much to the amusement of the three smirking Goodies.
In the opening sequence of the Series 5 episode 'Scatty Safari', the Goodies are conducting a tour of their Star Safari Park for a group of camera-clicking tourists and at one point Graeme is almost thrown from the van as it has to brake sharply to avoid hitting a herd of wandering Gumbys. The four resplendently cloth-capped, thick-witted Gumbys dawdle slowly and noisily across the road to the strains of the Monty Python theme tune (the 'Liberty Bell March') as the Goodies crossly gesticulate for them to get out the way.
'Cunning Stunts' in Series 5 sees Bill being fired from the Goodies by Tim and Graeme, as they are fed up with his uselessness from being totally smitten with wealthy heiress Mildred Makepeace. Tim and Graeme advertise for a "Third Goody to share. Grotty little hairy frustrated popstars need not apply!" and even before Bill has time to leave the office, they are inundated with responses for a replacement. After requests from "a Mr Wise" who wants to "bring his mate, big Eric with the glasses!" (to which Graeme says "No, trouble, trouble!") and a young man with "naval experience" who lives in "a big house in the middle of London" (but who has to "square it with Mum first"!) there is a knock at the door and Graeme answers it after saying "Ah, more applicants with any luck.". He is greeted by a rousing rendition of the Monty Python theme music (to some ironic cheers from the audience), only to gruffly order the applicants to "Push off, you lot!" Get off, get out of it!". After Graeme shuts the door in disgust, he utters "Aah, cheek! Ruddy Band of the Coldstream Guards!"
The early part of 'The Goodies Rule OK' special shows a rather bedraggled and down-and-out Tim and Bill slowly walking along 'Skid Row' with other washed-up entertainment acts for company. Bill laments to Tim that "We're ahead of our time, mate. We always have been, always will be too" as he says "Hello John, Eric." to two dopey-looking Gumbys, who grunt a greeting back to him as they busily rummage in a bin looking for scraps.
In Series 6 episode '2001 and a Bit', the following exchange occurs when an ancient Tim ventures to the pavilion at the MCC Sanctuary and reminisces about olden times with the other two Goodies, who he hasn't seen for many years:
Tim: "The three seater bike. You remember, the good old days."
Bill: "Ooh yes, the giant kitten."
Tim (proudly): "The giant beanstalk!"
Graeme (enthusiastically): "The Ministry Of Silly Walks!"
Tim: "Yeah ... (reconsiders, puzzled) ... I don't remember that!"
The final Monty Python reference comes in the Series 8 episode 'U-Friend or UFO' where Bill is trying to communicate with the aliens aboard the large spaceship that has landed on Knutters Knoll via his trombone playing. After various unsuccessful attempts at communication, Bill finally gets a positive response by getting an alien trombone to join him in playing 'The Goodies Theme' and then several trombones merrily pump along in harmony with him to the 'Liberty Bell' theme music of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'.
If 'The Goodies' and 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' were both still being produced in today's TV environment of cross-promotion, there may have been even more opportunities to slot further Monty Python references into The Goodies. These could include an ideal launching pad for the Dead Parrot sketch when poor Polly keels over on her perch in 'Pollution', the inclusion of Silly Party candidate Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim Bus Stop F'tang F'tang Olé Biscuit Barrel in the general election in 'Politics', a quick screech of "Albatross, for Christ's sake!" when one is shot down in 'For Those In Peril on the Sea', an equally quick "Nudge nudge wink wink say no more!" from Bill when he is hassling the auctioneer in 'Art For Art's Sake', a bunch of Bruces from the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolloomooloo attacking the Goodies in 'Scatty Safari' rather than a gaggle of Germaines and a mighty refrain of the Lumberjack Song as the Goodies hike through the Canadian Rockies in 'Bigfoot'.
Of course this cross-promotion would work the other way as well so that we would see the Goodies equivalents bob up in the appropriate Monty Python sketches: "I wish to complain about this cod what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique!" (it really would be "pining for the fjords" of Eskimoland for that matter!), the mighty Timita rescuing the country from five more years of Silly Party governance, the Germaines ridding the studios of llamas and South American folk singers with a few lethal swipes of their handbags and of course Great Uncle Butcher taking his rightful place in the Four Yorkshiremen sketch seeing as Tim Brooke-Taylor had a big hand in writing it in the first place!