» 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
» 27. Foreigners
» 28. Targets: The Ra...
» 29. Graeme falling ...
» 30. Targets - Royal...
» 31. Tim Crying
» 32. Baddies & Villa...
» 33. Targets: Ken Ru...
» 34. Quick Change Ca...
» 35. Goodies Deaths
A COLLECTION OF GOODIES THEMES
by Brett Allender
3. GOODIES TARGETS – MAX BYGRAVES & DES O'CONNOR
Max Bygraves was born in London in 1922 and his career in light entertainment kicked off in the post-World War 2 years with various TV and movie appearances during the next decade and more notably a considerable number of Top 75 singles during the 1950's and ten high-selling SingalongaMax medley albums in latter years. However his "so-laid-back-it's-almost-comatose" crooning style has proved to be a prime target for The Goodies and indeed other comedians over the years. As Tim Brooke-Taylor mentions in one of his Q&A sessions for our fan club in 1997, "Everyone attacked Max Bygraves, quite rightly."
Des O'Connor also hails from London, being born there in 1932, and similarly carved out a post-war entertainment career mainly on television and stage, though he has also had a reasonable singing career, releasing numerous albums and having a handful of chart-rating singles as well. His singing ability (or perceived lack thereof) has often been mocked by other comedians, particularly by Morecambe and Wise, and he certainly wasn't spared a bit of a stirring by The Goodies either, though more for his mouldy old jokes than any shortcomings with his singing.
O'Connor first becomes a target in the seldom-screened "A Collection Of Goodies" special made at the end of Series 2. The Goodies are broke, but Graeme has come up with the solution:
Graeme: "It's the easiest way to make money!" Bill: "Steal it?!"
Graeme: "Yes ... No! Entertainment ... but you were close!" Bill: "Very!"
Graeme: "So that's what we do. Singing, dancing, telling a few jokes."
Bill: "Like Des O'Connor?" Graeme: "Not much!"
Most Goodies fans will be more familiar with the re-use of this joke in "U-Friend Or UFO", with McDonalds hamburgers being in the firing line instead of O'Connor, but its first usage was just as amusing too.
O'Connor also gets a brief mention in Series 3 episode "Way Outward Bound" when Tim asks the megalomaniac Matron at the outdoor education school if the Goodies may have one last request before she disposes of them and Bill pipes up with "I'd like Des O'Connor singing 'Bring me sunshine …!'", complete with silly dance moves.
In the "Camelot" episode we see Bill fooling around in the castle, unloading dreadfully corny sight gags like a coat of arms (with several extra ones sewn on!), a length of garden hose (that is somewhat difficult to fit his legs into) and a packet of fishfingers around his waist (because he has run out of codpieces!) Graeme is appalled by this ("Good grief, does the preservation of Britain's national heritage mean nothing to you?!") and Tim only makes matters worse by re-entering as a jester and producing even more groansome jokes. After handing Bill a plank of wood and telling him that it's his "serf board", Tim gushes "Every one a valuable antique as originally writ in the 'Des O'Connor Book Of Medieval Jests!'"
Max Bygraves appears to have escaped the Goodies barbs until Series 5, although in my opinion they missed a prime opportunity to have a shot at him in the second-ever episode, "Snooze". Searching for a new name for the bedtime drink Venom, ("something sleepy, soporific, late night"), Bill suggests "Rolf Harris … (as he) … Sends me to sleep!" A cue to drop Max's name if ever there was one! I had also thought that the egotistical character of Maxie Grease in the "Superstar" special at the end of Series 3 was a send-up of Max Bygraves, but Graeme Garden kindly provided me with the following information: "Maxie Grease was based on Hughie Green, the host of talent show Opportunity Knocks, and had a very oily ingratiating persona - 'Welcome ladies and gentlemen, and I mean that most sincerely folks' etc." More on Hughie as a Goodies target on another occasion!
Both O'Connor and Bygraves score a mention in the same long rambling sentence in the "Wacky Wales" episode. Graeme is reading out an invitation from Reverend Llewellyn for the Goodies to attend the Llandlubber International Eisteddfod which is written partly in English, partly in Welsh and mostly in gibberish. One particular section reads "… guest of honour … Max Bygraves (producing a look of revulsion from Bill) y Des O'Connor y Rolf Harris …" and then trails on to include such diverse phrases as "get stuffed", "an unfortunate incident last year", "Clive Jenkins", "plate of wallaby stew", "all over the carpet", "police station" and "indecent exposure", with a bemused Tim finally asking "What was that all about?" Graeme's reply: "No idea!"
"Scatty Safari" also gives both Bygraves and O'Connor a decent serve. When the search is on for a main attraction to replace the gunned-down Tony Blackburn at the Goodies Star Safari Park, it leads to the following dialogue: Tim: "Can't you think of any really big draws?" Bill (cheekily): "Mrs Mills!" Tim: "You're just being silly." Graeme: "Max Bygraves?" Tim: "So are you!" Graeme (indignantly): "No! Max Bygraves is very popular." Tim (unimpressed): "Well, so he tells us … but how are we gonna capture him?" Graeme: "Simple. Now Max is doing a Palladium show this week, right? The three of us go to the theatre, Max comes out on the stage and he's doing his act. Then, when everyone's asleep, (motions), we creep up on him and we put a big bag …" Tim (interrupting dismissively): "No, no, no, no. No, we tried that with Des O'Connor and look what happened." Bill (matter-of-factly): "Yeah, we dropped off!" Tim (wistfully) "No, Max can never replace … Tony!"
Then later in this episode after Graeme's brilliant panicked charade and Tim's memorable guess as to what he was on about ("Tie … me … kangaroo … down … tennis!"), the spotlight focuses on who has been responsible for letting the fast-moving (and fast-breeding) Rolfs out of their enclosure.
Tim (demandingly): "Who did it?!" Graeme: "Well some of the other exhibits were getting a bit jealous about the lack of attention …" Tim (again firmly): "Who was it?!" Bill: "I know, Des O'Connor?" Graeme (concerned): "Yes it was, but you're not to get mad …" Bill (annoyed): "All right, I'm gonna fix Des. I'm gonna put him in with Morecambe and Wise" (followed by a fiendish chuckle). Graeme (most annoyed): "You do and you clean it up yourself!"
Des O'Connor seems to do an escape act himself from the Goodies' sights from this point onwards, but Max Bygraves is still very much a target for their wit-laden arrows. In "Kung Fu Kapers" Bill sets out to prove that he "knows a thing or two about martial arts" by chopping Graeme's book neatly in half before Tim issues him with the ultimate challenge: "Hang on a minute, have a go at these" (as he produces a stack of about a dozen LPs) "Max Bygraves' latest. SleepalongaMax Volume 98." The disturbing thought of why on earth Tim would have a copy of them in the first place is rapidly lost in the imagery of Bill taking a huge swipe at the pile of horrible records and not being able to make the slightest dent in them, only to have the table underneath split perfectly in half a few seconds later. Motioning towards Bygraves' seemingly indestructable musical collection, Bill says "Tell you something mate. If I wanted to, I could smash those to smithereens" as a revolted Tim utters "Ooh, I wish you would!". But had it happened, it would have been with "an infinitely more subtle and superior Lancastrian martial art" than lousy old kung fu!
In "Lips Or Almighty Cod", the Goodies' attempts to annoy their fishy friends so that they would scare off the lurking Eskimos seem to have come to nought. Bill has waved a Nicholas Parsons mask at them ("Slime, slime, grease, grease! Slime, slime, patronise, patronise!"), Tim has insulted the low intelligence of the goldfish and Graeme has yelled at them via a megaphone that " The Radio Times is the biggest selling magazine in Europe!", all to no avail. Graeme decides to give up and relax with "a spot of soothing music" – Max Bygraves (or at least ISIHAC regular Barry Cryer impersonating Max) singing his 1958 hit "Tulips From Amsterdam". Suddenly there's action aplenty with annoyed fish thrashing around in their tanks all over the room, causing Graeme to ecstatically bellow "Of course! That's it! (smooch) Max Bygraves! Why didn't I think of it before!" Bygraves' singing is even enough to transform Graeme's previously camp cod into a Jaws-like "fearless killer of the deep", though once it has swallowed Graeme's gramophone, the thought of having Max eternally crooning away inside it eventually sees it come to grief in a shower of fishfingers after crashing into the oil and batter-laden pier.
"Alternative Roots" sees the Goodies' ancestors "delivered to their final terrible humiliating destination" – the BBC – and auctioned off to the producers of various TV shows. The call of "Anyone for Max Bygraves?" by the slave trader has all of the producers shaking their heads, so it's "No one for Max Bygraves". This occurs again throughout the auction until the slave trader finally yells triumphantly "And one for Max Bygraves!", with the Goodies left to console the poor distraught sod who has been drafted for Bygraves' show. Later in the same series, "Royal Command" has Graeme opening the second Royal Variety Show with "And who better to begin our return to the good old days than that paragon of perky patter and comical cantillation ... (loud murmurs from the crowd, but puzzlement from the royal box) ... He sings and tells jokes Ma'am! I give you your own, your very own, Mr Max Bygraves!" Footage is shown of Bygraves walking out onto the stage, but he only gets as far as saying "I want to tell you a story …" before he is unceremoniously dumped through a trap door to the rapturous cheering of the regal, but rather feral, audience.
According to "The Goodies Rule OK" book by Robert Ross, the scene in "Scoutrageous" where Graeme and Bill are attempting to earn their World Domination Badge was initially written with the bomb to be detonated under Max Bygraves if the world leaders handed over control to the not-so-Goodies, however they end up planting it under Oliver Reed instead. However there is one last dig at Bygraves in the final series that The Goodies made at the BBC in the "Saturday Night Grease" episode. Graeme is trying to teach Tim a trendy dance called the Disco Heave and the instructions start with "Imagine you're in a disco and somebody accidentally puts on a Max Bygraves record. You don't know which way to go to throw up!". This has Tim feigning throwing up to the left and the right which is the first of several moves in this brand new dance; the others including shaking melting ice out of his trouser legs and stepping on an electric lead with his wet feet. Funky!
The beauty of The Goodies sending up the likes of Des O'Connor, Max Bygraves and various other celebrities is that it doesn't matter if you've never heard actually Bygraves' boring singing or O'Connor telling corny jokes (which I'm sure was the case for most other Australian Goodies fans growing up watching the show during the 1970s and 1980s) – the fact that The Goodies found them appalling was ample reason enough for you to find them appalling as well. I can recall the tale of one of my sister's friends – a keen Goodies fan – whose grandfather was talking to her about his musical interests and casually mentioned that he liked Max Bygraves. "MAX BYGRAVES!!", my sister's friend blurted out in a mixture of shock, horror, revulsion and laughter, prompting an innocent but worried query of "What's wrong dear?" from her grandfather. What's wrong? … his music only annoys fish, puts people to sleep or makes them throw up, that's all! Just as Des tells lame jokes from the middle ages, gets jealous with Rolf getting all of the attention and makes people drop off as well. I guess that you've just got to be a Goodies fan to understand!
Max Bygraves (left) and Des O'Connor (right) are two prime targets of Goodies humour
Bill and Tim working from the "Des O'Connor Book Of Medieval Jests"
5/6 Scatty Safari
Planning to capture Max for the Star Safari Park
Who let the Rolfs out, Graeme? Blame Des!
5/7 Kung Fu Kapers
SleepalongaMax Volume 98 cops the Kung Fu treatment!
6/1 Lips Or Almighty Cod
"That's it!" - how to annoy fish ... to the Max!
"No, not my gramophone!" That's one cut-up cod!
7/5 Royal Command
Exit Max at the second Royal Variety Show
8/2 Saturday Night Grease
Tim learning to Disco Heave, with a little help from an imaginary Max Bygraves record.