» Graeme Q&A Intervie...
AND NOW … AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAEME GARDEN
(from C&G #83 November 2002)
Avid C&G readers may recall that some time back in mid-2001, we asked you to send in some questions for Graeme Garden, who had very generously offered to answer them (or to program his computer to answer them at least!) And now after one year, 7 months, 4 days ("... a helluva long time!") spent trapped inside a 350 foot block of concrete until the Brighton to Birkenhead freeway was completed, it's our great pleasure to be able to feature Graeme ("that's G-R-A-E-M-E!") and his answers for your enjoyment:
YOU LOOKED PETRIFIED PERFORMING 'FUNKY GIBBON' ON 'TOP OF THE POPS'. WERE YOU MORE SCARED BY THE PROSPECT OF SINGING LIVE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION OR BY TIM'S DANCING NEXT TO YOU?
I was acting. My natural grace and cool moves would have blown the others off stage - so to avoid showing them up, I played the part of someone deeply embarrassed and awkward. With considerable success.
IS THE BUSH BABY A REAL ANIMAL OR JUST A BIT OF FLUFF IN YOUR POCKET? AND DO YOU STILL CARRY A BUSH BABY AROUND IN YOUR POCKET?
The bush baby on the show was just a bit of fluff, but I always carry a real one around in my pocket.
DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR BROWN SUITS FROM THE GOODIES IN YOUR WARDROBE? AND HOW MUCH MONEY WOULD YOU WANT TO WEAR THEM AGAIN?
I think I have one somewhere. I'd probably give quite a lot of money to be able to fit into it again.
BESIDES THE VARIOUS RADIO 4 COMEDIES YOU'RE INVOLVED WITH, WHAT ELSE ARE YOU UP TO THESE DAYS?
I've just been working with Rory Bremner the impressionist on the script for his show in the West End [excellent reviews], and we'll be working together again on a TV special.
Various radio/TV pilot shows - mostly panel games.
Developing a TV sitcom.
Developing a radio comedy drama.
Possibly writing some episodes for a BBC/Canadian project - series aimed at children.
Just recorded a guest appearance on a 'Dr Who' - with Sylvestre McCoy and Bonnie Langford - straight to audio!
Did an adaptation of a Feydeau farce which was on at the West Yorkshire Playhouse last winter with Griff Rhys Jones and Alison Steadman. etc
IN 'IF I RULED THE WORLD' IT SEEMED AS IF JEREMY HARDY WAS BEING TONY BLAIR AND YOU WERE BEING WILLIAM HAGUE. ALTHOUGH NEITHER OF YOU REALLY ACTED LIKE THEM, TO WHAT EXTENT WERE YOU THINKING "WHAT WOULD WILLIAM HAGUE DO?" WHEN DEVELOPING YOUR 'POLICIES' FOR THE SHOW?
To no extent, really, although our teams were Red and Blue. The idea for the show came up when it was becoming clear that there was no longer any real ideological difference between our two main parties. All we were doing was trying to score points by saying absolutely anything that would go down well with the 'voters', and to bullshit our way out of any awkward corner. Just like real politicians.
THE NAMESAKE OF EVERYONE'S FAVOURITE BBC-2 CONTROLLER (JANE ROOT) WAS THANKED IN 'THE LITTLE BOOK OF MORNINGTON CRESCENT'. HOW DID SHE ASSIST YOU IN PUTTING TOGETHER THE BOOK?
By forcing us to work on radio and write books.
CAN YOU SETTLE A POINT THAT A FRIEND AND I HAVE BEEN ARGUING ABOUT? IS JON NAISMITH THE 'MYSTERY VOICE' ON "I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE'?
Good God, so that's where I've heard it before!
I HEARD SOME EPISODES OF "I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE" FROM 1975 RECENTLY. UNSURPRISINGLY THEY WERE VERY DIFFERENT TO THE MORE RECENT EPISODES. THE MORE RECENT ONES SEEM SLICKER AND MORE CONFIDENT THAN THE OLDER ONES. OVER THE YEARS HAVE YOU IMPROVED THE WAYS YOU PLAN THE ROUNDS? OR ARE YOU JUST ALL MORE CONFIDENT WITH THE FORMAT THESE DAYS?
Jon Naismith is very strict, and doesn't let us get away with shoddy work.
I HEARD THAT THERE WERE PLANS TO MAKE A FILM OF YOUR NOVEL "THE SEVENTH MAN". DID THE FILM EVER GET MADE?
There were plans - at one time with director Christopher Miles and producer Sidney Glazier - who produced 'The Producers' for Mel Brooks. It never got made. 'The Whole Hog' - a short I wrote for Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones - has been touted around Hollywood by Mel. The last I heard it was with Dreamworks, being worked up into a screenplay by 12 year olds...
DURING YOUR EARLY CAREER YOU WERE COMPLETING YOUR DEGREE IN MEDICINE AND WORKING ON "I'M SORRY I'LL READ THAT AGAIN". WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO ABANDON YOUR ORIGINAL PLANS TO BECOME A DOCTOR?
All those sick people.
DO YOU HAVE A CONSPIRACY THEORY AS TO WHY THE BBC WILL NOT REPEAT THE GOODIES?
Of course I don't have a conspiracy theory. I am not allowed to.
AND NOW … AN INTERVIEW WITH GRAEME GARDEN
(from C&G 84 December 2002)
As a Christmas treat before he tries to cure Tim's belly button phobia and proves once and for all that Miss Piggy is just a pair of old y-fronts and a mop head, our favourite loony scientist, Graeme Garden, has kindly given us an early Christmas present by providing more brilliant answers to C&G readers' questions:
OVER THE SEASONS OF THE GOODIES, YOU HAD TO FILM A LOT OF BIZARRE THINGS. WHEN YOU WOULD GO HOME EACH EVENING AND YOUR WIFE ASKED HOW YOUR DAY WAS, DID YOU SAY THINGS LIKE "I'VE BEEN CHASING FRANKENFIDO ACROSS LONDON / SPENT THE DAY TRYING TO TOW BRITAIN OUTSIDE THE FIVE MILE LIMIT / SPENT HOURS IN THE THAMES BEING MENACED BY A GIANT COD / HAD A TOMATO SAUCE FIGHT WITH THE GUYS." OR WAS IT "OH, JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE..."???
The family never believed it. Not even when they saw the results on TV. They still think I'm a librarian.
YOU ARE THE "KING OF FALLING DOWN", MY FAVOURITES BEING THE ULTIMATE DEATH DIVE AT THE END OF "BUNFIGHT AT THE OK TEA ROOMS" AND YOU FALLING OFF THE MULE IN THE SAME EPISODE. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT FILMING THESE (OR ANY OF THE OTHER FALLS) AND HOW YOU HAVE SUFFERED FOR YOUR ART? WAS THE PAIN EQUAL TO THE LAUGHS YOU GOT?
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.
ARE THERE ANY SCENES THAT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA WHEN YOU WROTE THEM BUT WHEN THEY WERE FILMED, YOU STARTED TO WONDER?
None that involved me.
GRAEME, YOU HAVE FANTASTIC LEGS, AS SEEN IN "SATURDAY NIGHT GREASE" AND TOO LITTLE ELSE. WILL YOU BE DEPRIVING US OF THEM FOR MUCH LONGER?
No. I have left them to the Royal Ballet.
WHY DID "IF I RULED THE WORLD" END? I WAS LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT SERIES, AND THERE IT WAS ... GONE!
Jane Root decided that, although it was a programme of quality, it did not fit in with the future profile of BBC2's output. I'm beginning to think it's personal. Not only is she quoted as saying 'over my dead body' re Goodies repeats, she cancelled 'If I Ruled the World', and then on my very birthday this year announced that BBC2 was dropping the Simpsons.
TO WHAT EXTENT WAS THE ISOBEL CHINTZ CHARACTER IN "SUPERSTAR" BASED ON GERMAINE GREER IN HER 'SUPER GROUPIE' PHASE?
Largely - as were several other female characters. I was at Cambridge with Germ, and Bill and I worked with her on 'Twice a Fortnight.'
I REALLY ENJOYED THE RECORDINGS OF "YOU'LL HAVE HAD YOUR TEA", BUT WHY HAVE YOU ONLY DONE FOUR EPISODES?
It was a short series specially commissioned to run daily during Christmas week when fifteen minute slots will be available. If it's a success, we hope they'll commission some more. We all enjoyed doing it hugely, and I was especially delighted that my son John did the music - he is currently on tour as accompanist to Alison Moyet.
TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR RECALLED THAT A GOODIES FILM SCRIPT WAS WRITTEN IN THE MID 70S. CAN YOU REMEMBER THE PLOT?
Seven dwarfs came into it. I think the original was later developed into Stanley Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut.'
CAN YOU EXPLAIN ANY DIFFERENCES IN THE WRITING STYLES OF TIM, BILL AND YOURSELF?
I could try to describe the differences, but I'm damned if I could EXPLAIN them.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SOMETHING NEW FROM THE GOODIES?
Not a film or TV, I think. However, having recently done a part in a Dr Who straight-to-audio, it might be fun to do that or Radio Goodies - perhaps even another book of some sort.
Incidentally, do any of you guys get a bit of a chill like I do looking at my design for the cover of the Goodies Disaster Movie? It shows Concorde with its left engine on fire crashing into the Twin Towers.
WHAT SIMILARITIES DO YOU SEE BETWEEN YOUR REAL SELF AND YOUR GOODIE PERSONALITY?
Superiority to Tim and Bill.
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER, APART FROM THE GOODIES?
1 - Writing and performing with Orson Welles
2 - Nobody ever seeing the final disastrous product.
I READ IN "THE COMPLETE GOODIES" BOOK THAT YOU APPEARED IN THE TRAILER FOR "MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL" WITH TERRY JONES PUSHING A CUSTARD PIE IN YOUR FACE. WERE YOU ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE IN THE MOVIE, OR WAS THIS A SCENE FROM "BROADEN YOUR MIND" OR "TWICE A FORTNIGHT" OR SOMETHING?
I believe it was a sketch based on Ingmar Bergman's 'the Seventh Seal' from Twice A Fortnight. I played the Max von Sydow Knight, Terry Jones was Death playing chess with me on the seashore. [If you look in the background, they do say you can just see Tim and Bill as dressed up as Seals number 5 and 6.]
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR FUTURE IN COMEDY?
What are you offering?
WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO GROW BIG FUZZY CHOPS BACK IN THE 70s?
Gillette brought out the mini-razor. They were all the rage, but were so short they only reached halfway up the cheek.
I READ THAT YOU WROTE THE FIRST HALF OF "2001 AND A BIT". WAS THERE A PARTICULAR REASON WHY YOU CHOSE YOURSELF TO BE BILL'S SON, TIM TO BE YOUR SON AND BILL TO BE TIM'S SON?
ARE THERE ANY COMEDIANS WHO YOU WERE INFLUENCED BY?
Mike Myers and Mark Gatiss. I saw them in a dream.