A COLLECTION OF GOODIES THEMES #29
(by Brett Allender - Feb 2014)
GRAEME FALLING OVER
The pratfall and other varieties of coming a cropper have been standard visual comedy fare since the days of the silent comics and old-time stage performers and taking a dive - particularly inadvertently - still provides a staple and successful formula for laughs from audiences today … where would shows like 'Australia's Funniest Home Videos' be without a gaggle of clips of people and animals falling over in a great variety of unexpected and undignified ways?!
The physical, live-action cartoon nature of 'The Goodies' lends itself as the perfect stage for the frequent spectacular A-over-T tumble and while all three Goodies hit the deck with considerable style and enthusiasm on multiple occasions, the undisputed Grand Master of gutsers is one Dr Graeme Garden (his qualifications quite possibly coming in handy because he would have been able to provide medical treatment to himself afterwards for any injuries sustained in the process!). This opinion is willingly supported in the interview that the three Goodies did for Australian TV show 'Where Are They Now' in 1997, where Bill remarks: "I enjoyed Graeme falling over …" and starts laughing, with a smiling Tim adding "Yes, I did too." Bill continues: " … Enormously, because he's a brilliant faller." as a backing clip is screened of Graeme lurching backwards off the stubborn mule in 'Bunfight' after challenging his fellow Goodies to a winner-takes-all showdown at the OK Tea Rooms.
In a Q&A session for the Goodies Clarion & Globe newsletter in 2002, Graeme is asked about being "the king of falling down" and whether he "suffered for (his) art" and he gives the following reply: "Tim and Bill gleefully tell the story of the Bunfight fall. I'd always noticed that when falling on hard ground it was the bony bits that got bruised, and tender knees and elbows were a real nuisance for the rest of the filming. So I used to wear pads on my joints. However, I decided I needed to pad my spine as well, so I bought a special spinal protector as worn by jockeys and riders, and strapped myself into it before the Bunfight. In the last shot I launched myself into the air, spun, spun a bit more, and came down flat on my face with a mouthful of gravel. How they laughed."
This theme is explored further in the two "Still Alive On Stage" tours that the Goodies conduct in Australia in 2005 when an annoyed Bill (who is riled after being told that it wasn't his fellow Goodies suffering inside the uncomfortable spacehopper suits in 'London to Brighton' after all these years) gets his revenge by replaying the final scenes of 'Bunfight' where Graeme makes his most spectacular death dive after squirting himself with lethal tomato sauce. Bill gleefully explained that "Mister Wise" Graeme had taken the precautions of placing foam padding all along his back, only to overdo the gymnastics and make an undignified (and unpadded) landing flat on his face! A slow motion replay confirms this diagnosis; much to the live audience's utter pleasure, but not Graeme's of course! In the shows on the second tour, Tim further adds to Graeme's misery by saying that while he was lying on the ground at the Bunfight waiting for Graeme to snuff it, "a wasp, three bees and a spider crawled up my leg, but I didn't think that it was worth mentioning!"; mocking Graeme's earlier declaration that a wasp sting while he was imitating David Attenborough in the 'Animals' episode was his most painful moment on the show.
A quick scan through my summaries of the various Goodies episodes identifies over 60 occasions where Graeme displays his considerable falling-over talents, with a stunning variety of trips, slips, flips, thumps, bumps, tumbles and dives that provide Goodies fans with lots of grins, giggles and the occasional grimace in the process. I'm not even going to begin trying to describe the physical actions involved in any great detail (the photo gallery can do far better justice to Graeme's gymnastic abilities and comic timing than any words of mine ever could), but I'll set myself up for a fall too and choose my ten favourite spills of Graeme's in order of episode screening from a very large field of worthy contenders:
Free To Live: Sprawling star-shaped onto the ground after being shirtfronted by his beloved computer while giving her a push on the swing in the park.
The Stone Age: Dressed as Rolf Harris in the ad break, Graeme launches backwards off his chair with his hands clasping his throat after being poisoned by his Granny's Bristo mix for being a general pain in the bum – "It's just what you deserve!"
The Movies: His epic "kick up the heels and land flat on the back" death dive on the sunlit beach (in disguise as an old man) in the 'Death in Bognor' movie clip after Bill's impatient urging of "Come on you blighter, die! Come on, die!" Watching this sequence years later when doing the commentary track, an impressed Bill says "That's gotta be Graeme, hey?! … Be honest.", to which Graeme rather proudly replies "It was, yes." and Tim adds "He's an ace faller."
Chubby Chumps: His stumbling fall through the decrepit doors of the cobweb-ridden BBC Radio headquarters.
Kung Fu Kapers: A collection of great falls during the Eckythump battle with Bill and later plunging headfirst into the small confines of the black pudding mixture vat at Peckinpah's Puddings.
Bunfight at the OK Tea Rooms: The ultimate cropper as described in greater detail earlier, with an honourable mention for his tumble from the mule earlier in the episode.
Black & White Beauty: Being shoved into the garbage bins by an upset Tim, who has just done his famous teary run across the meadow after watching Bill ill-treat Beauty the horse.
It Might As Well Be String: His headlong charge at full tilt into an oversized (but relatively compact, all the same) tub of Soft Margarine after his film panel is shoved aside by Tim in the surreal chase scene towards the end of the episode.
Dodonuts: A wonderfully energetic wrestle with the obnoxious dodo behind the couch in the Goodies office in the wee hours of the morning.
Earthanasia: Bowled over with the oven by an irate Tim after releasing his inhibitions – "You shouldn't have hit me with that … you've ruined the cake!"
A tumble off the trandem by all three Goodies
Avoiding the barrel of antidote
1/3 Give Police A Chance
Painted over after tripping with the trandem
Falling backwards off the ride-on mower
1/7 Radio Goodies
Shooting down the balloons carrying letters for postmarking
2/10 Free To Live
Giving his computer a romantic swing is not such a good idea after all!
2/11 Gender Education
Graeme is bowled over by Bill's hangman
Special - A Collection Of Goodies
A trip while hurdling the vault in the gym
3/5 For Those In Peril On The Sea
Dodging a pineapple grenade on the Lost Island of Munga
4/4 The Stone Age
Falling down a pothole under the Goodies office
"Rolf" snuffs it after eating Granny's poisoned Bristo Mix
4/6 The Race
Graeme has some fun and games with the air hose
Special - Goodies and the Beanstalk
Graeme is clobbered with a spare arm by an old dear
5/1 The Movies
Death In Bognor: "Come on you blighter, die!"
5/2 Clown Virus
Graeme comes off second best with the Acme Giant Soup Can Flipper
5/3 Chubby Chumps
Graeme falls through the doors of the run-down BBC Radio headquarters
5/7 Kung Fu Kapers
Bill's Eckythump triumphs over Graeme's boxing
Graeme adds a new ingredient to the black pudding mixture ... himself!
5/10 Cunning Stunts
Tim & Graeme as Germans Fritz & Fratz in the Falling Down section of the
Eurovision Raving Loony Contest
5/12 Bunfight at the OK Tea Rooms
A cropper off the mule before the bunfight takes place
Graeme's sensational "death dive" after the self-inflicted squirts of lethal tomato sauce
5/11 South Africa
Flat out after being punched in the face by a jockey on a stepladder
6/1 Lips or Almighty Cod
Into the tank with his cranky cod
A trip on the pier when trying to reach the gramophone
6/4 Black and White Beauty
Shoved into the bins by an upset Tim
6/5 It Might As Well Be String
Graeme comes to grief in a tub of Soft Margarine
6/6 2001 and a Bit
Graeme Oddie crashes into the cricket sightscreen
Wrestling with the obnoxious dodo
Graeme & Bill get blown head-over-heels by the Salvation Army ladies
Graeme releases Tim's inhibitions and Tim releases a stove at Graeme in turn!
9/4 Change Of Life
Graeme is crunched by his Doomsday Machine
Graeme gets tense with his banana lounge
About to take a plunge into the sheep dip