» #59 Nov 2000
THE GOODIES CLARION AND GLOBE
THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF 'THE GOODIES RULE - OK' FAN CLUB
Issue No. 59 12th November 2000
'The Goodies Rule - OK!'
P.O. Box 325
Chadstone VIC 3148, AUSTRALIA
THE LADS AND LASSES OF THE C&G
- Brett Allender
- David Balston
- Kay Dickinson
- Lisa Manekofsky
FAB FEATURE WRITER
- Alison Bean
Andy Williamson & Phil Wadey.
1. QUIZ & QUOTE - the return of some Goodies brainteasers.
2. BOFFO IDEAS - Club happenings and ideas.
3. SPOTTED!!! - The latest Goodies sightings.
4. 2001 AND A BIT - Tim, Graeme and Bill sightings post-Goodies.
5. FEATURE ARTICLE - The Goodies - a victim of our times
6. GOODIES EPISODE SUMMARY - Winter Olympics
7. QUIZ & QUOTE ANSWERS
1. QUIZ & QUOTE
In a new and slightly different reprisal of an old favourite, we are pleased to announce the return of some brain fodder for all of you Goodies trivia buffs out there beyond the five mile limit. Each C&G will now start off with a quote from a Goodies episode (with thanks to our new Quotemaster, Brian Labza) and a few related questions, plus a series of trivia questions from Magnus Magnesium (aka Brett Allender). And unlike past C&G quizzes, you won't have to wait until the next edition to find out whether you're a trivia champ or chump, as the answers are listed at the end of this newsletter. So here goes:
QUOTE: "There's a vacancy for a professor of agronomics in Sierra Leone - must have Swahili and three O levels."
(a) Which Goodie says the above quote?
(b) What is he doing at the time?
(c) Which Goodies episode does this quote come from?
QUIZ: The Goodies' most notable arch-enemy from the early episodes is the Music Master (from The Music Lovers - Series 2, Episode 5).
(d) Which song do the Goodies perform in a failed bid to be kidnapped by the Music Master?
(e) What is so unusual about the "Best Of Rolf Harris" record displayed by the Music Master?
(f) What is the name of the Music Master's main henchman?
(g) Which singer do the Goodies leave locked up when they escape from the Music Master, and why?
(h) The Music Master reappears in which later Goodies episode?
(i) What is the Music Master's true identity, as revealed in this later episode?
2. BOFFO IDEAS
You can make it happen here. Liven up the club with a boffo idea for bob-a-job week. E-mail <email@example.com> with your comments, ideas or suggestions - meanwhile these are the boffo ideas which our club has been working on this month:
The Goodies Rule OK! club website at http://www.goodiesruleok.com is continuing to develop very nicely thanks to the hard work of our Technical Officer Tim Aslat, whose efforts with getting the new site looking so good in just a few short months are definitely worthy of being deemed "officially amazing". The latest additions to the site include further captions for the Kitten Kon photos and a mini Goodies Episode Guide, and more information on website updates can be obtained from the "news" section.
(by Brett Allender)
Many thanks to the 300+ club members who have replied to my e-mail regarding details for the club database (name or nickname, e-mail address, country, state and preference for receiving the C&G as an e-mail message or attached Word file), as this information will be extremely useful to me when sending out future messages about video nights and other club activities. However there are still almost 800 people on this list who haven't replied yet, so I'd be pleased to hear from any of you at some stage in the near future.
After receiving lots of requests for the C&G in many different attached file types (eg Word 97, rtf, zipped, html, etc) and just as many counter-requests to not send it out in these formats, I've settled on sending it as a Word 6.0/95 file to those people who specifically requested a Word attachment, as this format should work for all versions of Word.
And finally, a suggestion regarding the format of the e-mail version of the C&G. If you find that it looks ugly or difficult to read, there is nothing stopping you from cutting and pasting the e-mail text into the word processing program of your own choice and giving it a format which makes it look better and easier for you to read. It only takes a couple of minutes and you can then read the C&G tailor-made to your own requirements, as I can't possibly produce the newsletter in a form which pleases the individual tastes of more than one thousand people.
It is our sad duty to report that one of our Ace Reporters, Catherine Sumnall, has given up the fame and fortune (well, fame anyway!) of being a frequent superstar contributor to the C&G so that she can concentrate on her important upcoming studies. We'll all miss you, Catherine (even if we do aim carefully!), so many thanks on behalf of all GROK members for the multitude of interesting and humourous reports which you've written for the C&G over the past couple of years.
The very first UK Goodies Get-together was held in the heart of suburban Cricklewood on November 11th. A full report on the fun and festivities by event organiser, Kay Dickinson, will appear in the December edition of the C&G. Video nights are also in the early planning stage for Melbourne, Perth and New Zealand, and more details will appear in upcoming newsletters as organising progresses further.
More exciting than getting your wig-spotters badge! If you've seen the Goodies recently, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>with the details. Here's where we've Spotted!!! The Goodies this month:
BILL ODDIE - CULT TV CONVENTION 2000 - TORQUAY
(by Kay Dickinson)
The annual Cult TV convention was held this year in Torquay, Devon (though not at Flowery Tw..erm, Fawlty Towers) - and one of the guests this year was none other than Bill Oddie (Tim and Graeme couldn't make it due to ISIHAC commitments). The format of the convention was that the guests would be interviewed on stage for 45 minutes or so, and then the audience were invited to ask questions.
Bill's session began with the showing of "Wild Thing" from "The Goodies Almost Live". It was great to see Bill standing below one of the two giant screens, watching himself, Tim and Graeme singing the classic song.
Once he'd sat down on one of large sofas on stage, Bill found it highly amusing that, as well as the microphone on the stand in front of him, there was another positioned behind the sofa which had slipped down and he ended up sitting on it. He wondered what sounds that one was designed to pick up - and mentioned that he had written a song entitled "Blowing Off"!
Robert Ross was interviewing Bill, and he started things off, referring to Wild Thing, asking Bill about his being a frustrated rock star. Bill was then interrupted - by his mobile phone ringing! It was his wife, Laura, and Bill informed her that she was talking to 400 people and got us all to shout "Hello, Laura!" to her!
They went back to discussing the frustrated rock star, and Bill commented that, of all the songs he'd written, they had to show a clip of one of the few that wasn't his!
"I really got my rocks off" said Bill of being a pop star. The level of adulation heaped on them all from "comedy groupies" had scared them though - at a signing at the Arndale in Manchester, the police had actually told them that they couldn't guarantee their safety! He also mentioned that he'd pulled in Torquay once! Reference was made to Tim's raunchy "You move me" during Wild Thing from the clip, and Bill commented that Tim couldn't do that any more, 'cos his back's gone!!
Bill revealed that he can't remember an awful lot about the Goodies - and said that had Tim been there, we would have been regaled with the full details! He says that he doesn't really like living in the past that much, but that when he went over to Australia to promote a nature programme he was involved in, all the interviewers wanted to know about was The Goodies. He told everyone how big The Goodies are in Oz, because of the re-screenings.
They went on to discuss Cambridge Circus, and Bill told how it had opened to rave reviews on Broadway - and how he kept being mistaken for Eric Burdon of the Animals! (which he seemed rather pleased about). Despite the reviews, the audiences were very low - the reason for this became clear when they found out that the promoter was famous for putting on big, showy productions and ballets - he'd evidently thought they were a real circus! They were taken off Broadway after three weeks, but continued in a club off Broadway for nine months.
Bill went on to say that he'd been farmed out as a writer and had written stuff for Tommy Cooper (of whom he then did a very bad impression!) And Ronnie Barker, who was more compos mentis than Cooper "or at least he is now!" - writing a script for Tommy Cooper was a pointless exercise, because he never remembered any of it. He wrote a lot of visual pieces for Ronnie Barker, which he physically couldn't do - one of which was the scene from Kitten Kong of Tim being dragged around the park by Twinkle the kitten - "nothing was wasted"!
They then went on to talk about I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue - the only show of which he'd said, "oh, f***, I can't stand this!" "It was agony" - the best bits happened in the pub beforehand, and it was all "Graeme's stupid bloody idea!" - "it made me ill".
For I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, the cast acknowledged that John Cleese was always the genius of the show, but that the critics took years to see it. They always liked Bill because of all the songs - despite his own opinion that he was "crap"!
The conversation turned to the relationship and work they had done with the Pythons - and that The Goodies was a reaction to Monty Python but that they were not rivals. He commented that Twice A Fortnight was subtitled "Match Of The Day Part II" to try to get more viewers!
Monty Python was the "quintessential sketch show" and that the reaction that the Goodies tried to create was of "something completely different" - no pun was actually intended there!! Their idea was to do a half-hour story - and it annoys him that people refer to Goodies "sketches" or even worse, "skits" - a word he hates and says is, "so wet".
The "sketch" (sic) of Kung-Fu Kapers was then shown - and Bill makes notes during it. He then elucidates (you do and you clean it up yourself!) on his notes.
"Some points", he says, "if you're not interested, you can fall asleep"
He comments that watching the clip had reminded him of how good Tim and Graeme were. Graeme was always the one who was able to keep a straight face but Tim and Bill giggled so much that they sometimes had to record in separate studios - and even then it didn't work!
And it "doesn't rankle at all" with him that Tim got a writing credit AND a third of the money, "despite not doing a f***ing thing!"
Bill and Graeme, "the scriptwriters!" would write a bunch of topics - a straight list that could have been for Panorama - and put two with absolutely no connection together to see what happened.
He said that one of the great satisfactions of the shows was to be able to give so many of the people working on the show - the costume designers and props people - a sense of satisfaction themselves - like with the huge flat caps. They'd come to them with a cap an inch wider than it should be and they'd say, "no, it's got to be enormous" and the props people would come back and back until they'd say "well, we've got this one, but it's ridiculous" - and the Goodies would say, "that's the one we want!"
They would also often use the same extras in the scenes - Bill says a "nerd's challenge" would be to watch all the episodes back and spot the same extras!
The guest stars they had would usually be guest villains - and they would often be lumbered with a big star - and end up just laughing at them, wishing they were as good. They then decided to become their own villains.
Bill hates "Charity Bounce" - he says it was the most painful - physically - of the programmes to make. He then did an audience poll of who'd had spacehoppers, who didn't and who still wanted one - "very sad"! He said that the spacehoppers had big phallic ears - like a kangaroo! (referring to the Cult TV cardboard cut-out of Skippy on stage - (don't ask!)).
The reason it was the most painful was that they had a metal harness on their heads and over their shoulders for it. When they bounced (and he demonstrated this by bouncing all over the stage!), the harness kept hitting their heads - it was "absolute agony" - and what was worse was that they didn't need to have done it, they could have used stuntmen because you couldn't see that it really was them, "but, oh no - WE do our own stunts!" It was apparently a good job that it was a silent scene - every time they bounced, all you could hear was assorted swear words!
With regard to injuries sustained during this, the doctor amongst them was, "no use at all, Graeme, bless him - he can't even look after himself. And he smokes too much."
They thought of themselves as cartoon characters - the downside being that they then set themselves up as human props and were often treated as such.
He then talked about the Kitten Kong scene when the mice run off the top of the office block - they were discussing the technical difficulties of the scene and how to go about filming it. Bill realised that he'd really lost his grip on reality when he said to the others that, as it was only a small drop, they should forget the special effects and just do the scene themselves!!!
On the issue of the BBC's continued refusal to repeat The Goodies, Bill said that it had puzzled them, annoyed them and hurt them a little - especially with all the 70s programmes on TV - although he thought that the "I Love The 70s" programmes were crap! (Bill says that he's recorded an interview for a Christmas programme called, "Spangles at Christmas or Flares at Christmas" or something like that). He says, though, that he's not bitter over Jane Root (although he didn't name her). When they were approached over the video releases, the three of them had to go though all the episodes to pick the ones to be released and, "some of the programmes were SO bad!"
The reason they were told that the distribution and advertising for the video releases was so awful was that the BBC would only spend time and money on a release if the programme was being screened at the time!!? Figure that one out!
The Comic Relief clip was shown in full (all 85 seconds of it) and Bill reckons the BBC have an official policy of, "never give The Goodies more than 85 seconds - ever!"
The floor was thrown open for questions and someone asked what Bill's favourite Goodies song was - and said that he had their "Criminal Record". Bill pointed out that "Criminal Record" was a book and "Nothing To Do With Us" was the record. He joked about putting the book on the record player and said that if you did, you'd find out that Tim died 30 years ago!
What killed them off as a recording act, apparently, was their defection to Island records. The others weren't happy about it at all, but Bill was in his frustrated rock star mode - and he says that the reason it didn't work out with Island was that " the staff at Island were more into turning on than turning up!"
His favourite song is from Nothing To Do With Us - The Policeman's Opera. It was written as a send up of Bohemian Rhapsody and Bill was completely in his element as he got to work with great musicians on it - Joe Cocker's band and Rick Wakeman.
Someone then asked a really, really obscure question about her impression that Bill had been offended with someone on an interview once (there are some, shall we say "unique" people that attend these conventions!) - and then I asked him a question - who would he have liked to have had as a guest on The Goodies that they didn't get?
Cue much hilarity as Bill's predictable answer was Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Aniston! He also suggested Tessa Wyatt. He also said that he'd have loved to have worked with a big name before they became famous and would really have loved to have worked with Rik Mayall, or possibly Rowan Atkinson (although there was some of his stuff that he hadn't liked).
The classic clip was then shown from Goodies Rule OK, with Bill and Ben, Dougal, Zebedee and the Wombles. After the clip, Bill let us into a little secret that Tim's been keeping to himself all this time - when Zebedee bounced down between Tim's legs, he, um, didn't miss!! It has apparently taken Tim a long time to recover from this experience! Brings tears to the eyes.... Especially Tim's!!
Bill finished the session by saying that the whole of The Goodies was very dream-like - "and what better dream could you have than to kick a Womble in the nuts?"
Later that evening, Cult TV held their Awards Ceremony. Bill was invited up to present the award for "Cult Campaigner of the Year" - "what's an aigner?" asked Bill. "Is this an award for people who are famous now and might just be remembered in 10 years' time?" The nominees were, Harry Hill - "he's pinched our lettering!" moaned Bill, Charlotte Hudson (Watchdog), Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross - "clapped out old bugger!" and Mark Thomas. Graham Norton won - "I was right about the Camp Aigner" heckled Bill from back at his table after the video of Norton accepting the award.
A little later on, the award for Best Animated Character came up. They had Sooty to read the nominations! Obviously, there was a major problem with this, and the compere consulted with Sooty and said that Sooty wanted someone good to read out the nominations for him. "We've got a Good-y - will that do?" - "Is there a Goody in the house? - Bill Oddie - have you heard of him?" the compere asks the puppet. Sooty scratches his head, looking thoughtful. Up comes Bill to the podium again and starts throwing insults at Sooty (which I have to confess I can't remember because I was laughing too much, and had also not brought my notebook with me!), which culminated in Bill wiping his nose on Sooty. Cue clip of Harry H Corbett on the phone to Tim, wiping his nose on the puppet.
Bill tells Sooty that he was responsible for writing that script - and it originally wasn't his nose that Corbett was scripted to wipe on Sooty! Sooty tells Bill that he's got a surprise for him, and if everyone in the audience shouts, "Easy, peasy - lemon squeezy", he'll let him have it! Everyone does, and Sooty squirts Bill with his infamous water pistol! (NB: for Australian readers - I'm not sure if you're aware of Sooty's history, but this is how he treated most people!) Bill then reads the nominations, insulting Sooty throughout - and Sooty again soaks Bill with the pistol! (if you're interested, Bagpuss won!)
The last award of the evening, and the compere tells the audience that it's a completely new category. This is an award for a Cult TV programme that is celebrating an anniversary and isn't being remembered anywhere else. There are three awards lined up. It's The Goodies! Bill's back up at the podium - "you've made this up so I don't feel I've come here for nothing!" He said something to the general effect that he wasn't going to pass the awards on to Tim and Graeme 'cos they couldn't be arsed to be there - they can come and get it themselves! This is only the second award The Goodies have won (Montreaux didn't count because it was only a silver rose!) - the first being the Best TV Comedy of 1976 from, of all things, "The Sun"! "The Sun! No-one reads The Sun! You use it for loo paper, but no-one actually reads it!"
Then the awards were over and people started leaving. Armed with camera, Goodies books and pictures I approached Bill's table. I'd introduced myself quickly earlier, after the interview session and as I got to his table, Bill turned round - "Hello, weblady!" (no jokes about being Spiderman's wife from anyone, thank you!) He was quite happy to sign all my stuff (I've got some pics and a book signed for prizes for the "Goodies Rule UK" get-together) and I took the opportunity to ask some questions I'd been requested to ask him.
He'd be quite happy for someone to look into re-mastering and releasing the songs from the shows that had never been released (Bunfight, Needed, Come Back etc.) but he didn't have them and didn't know where the original tapes were - probably at the BBC.
I mentioned our get-together in Cricklewood on the 11th November and the possibility of a convention next year - "2001 and a bit" and said that he thought he'd be able to be involved, depending on the timing of it.
The series due to be shown in the UK, "Bill Oddie Goes Wild" - has been put back to January next year, instead of the original scheduling of September this year.
Due to his reaction in the interview, I assumed that this question had already been answered, but mentioned it anyway - he would actually quite like to appear on I.S.I.H.A.C. again - although he hasn't approached Tim or Graeme about it - and he's not sure whether or not they'd want him on it!!! Tim???
Lastly, and by no means leastly.... I'd had a nosy as to which guests Cult TV had invited and not got - and they'd invited both Rolf Harris and Nicholas Parsons!!! Bill was rather amused at this when I told him - though he says he actually does get on very well with Rolf - and that Rolf loves the Scatty Safari programme and is the proud owner of a copy of it! Opinions on Nicholas Parsons were not forthcoming....!!!
GOODIES ARTICLE IN TV ZONE
(by David Balston
The new issue of TV Zone is on sale with a lovely 4 page special on Kitten Kong by Andrew Pixley.
4. 2001 AND A BIT
If you've sighted Tim, Bill or Graeme in a post-Goodies role, e-mail <email@example.com> so that we can tell everyone where to spot a Goodie nowadays.
AT LAST - THE 1948 SHOW
(contributed by Andy Williamson, originally from the Daily Telegraph, Saturday September 30th 2000, page A11)
"At last! It's 1948 all over again"
Dick Fiddy reveals how one of the most influential comedy series of the Sixties has been rescued from TV oblivion
In a continental coastal bar sit four self-made Yorkshiremen, each trying to outdo each other with stories of their bleak, poverty-stricken upbringing.
"There were 150 of us living in a shoebox in t'middle of t'road."
"You were lucky!"
This classic sketch was a highlight of the Monty Python Live at Drury Lane album (and later the charity comedy bash The Secret Policeman's Ball) and has since become a firm favourite with fans. The sketch had a familiar feel, and many viewers erroneously supposed it to be from Monty Python's Flying Circus. in fact, the sketch first aired on TV as part of At Last the 1948 Show, an anarchic comedy series, made by Associated Rediffusion, that was an important stepping-stone on the way to Monty Python.
The future Python team, apart from Terry Gilliam, had all worked for The Frost Report (BBC), David Frost's theme-based sketch and monologue series that began in 1966. Frost greatly admired the work of John Cleese and suggested that Cleese might like to join forces with another of the series writers, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and create a new series that Frost would produce independently and sell to the ITV network
Cleese went along with the idea, and his writing partner, Graham Chapman, became involved. Marty Feldman, a veteran radio and TV writer, had been one of the chief contributors to The Frost Report, and Cleese suggested that he also be brought on board. At first Frost was unsure, mainly because of Feldman's weird pop-eyed looks. Cleese however, convinced Frost, and later Frost would champion Feldman when trying to sell the series to Rediffusion.
AtLast the 1948 Show-the title was a Cleese joke relating to the length of tune it took to get an idea into production - began (in the London area) on February 15, 1967, and presented a rapid-fire mix of unrelated manic sketches, most with a bizarre and occasionally violent edge, hitherto rarely seen on TV.
The show was linked by "the lovely Aimi MacDonald", who pretended to be a gold-digging dumb blonde who believed it to be her show. MacDonald expertly played dene, exaggerating her Betty Boop-style voice and appearing in a number of glamorous, risque outfits, offering a neat contrast to the male-heavy sketches all acted by the four team members, with occasional assistance from Bill Oddie, Barry Cryer, Dick Vosburgh and Eric Idle.
As with Python, the team members created, wrote and performed the material, which was remarkably close in style to what would later be described as Pythonesque. The series had a chequered history, but lasted for two series: the first, six episodes; the second, seven. Some ITV stations didn't take it at all, others aired only one series. But, in the London area, the show was a big hit, making the top 10 for the region.
The liberal format offered great freedom to the writer-performers who were able to exploit their weird ideas. The series featured wonderful sketches that were sadly let down by some poor punchlines.
So, why isn't At Last the 1948 Show regularly repeated, or available on video or DVD? The sad fact is that 11 of the 13 episodes were wiped soon after they were made, a result of the economy drives that caused much material to be erased in order to re-use the tapes, which were hugely expensive at the time. Two episodes survived in the National Film and TV Archive, and, for many years, that was thought to be it.
In 1989, I was working as a writer/researcher on Channel 4's New Year's Day archive celebration The A to Z of TV, a three-hour extravaganza that looked back at the history of British television. One of the researchers, John Platt, an acknowledged authority on appearances by pop and rock acts on TV, had discovered that a lot of UK TV material from that field had survived in Sweden. He suggested I talk to them about what other types of UK programming they might have. I discovered that they had the famous "four Yorkshiremen" sketch, long thought lost. We managed to get the sketch back from Sweden and presented it as part of The A to Z of TV.
This screening alerted aficionados who knew that the sketch was officially missing. I spoke to Steve Bryant, Keeper of Television at the BFI, and told him of the Swedish connection. Bryant called his archivist contacts at Swedish Television, and they confirmed that they held five episodes of At Last the 1948 Show. These were 16mm tele-recordings, which they had kept since the Sixties.
Bryant arranged for the material to be shipped back to the UK to be viewed. The big question now was whether these were five new episodes or whether they duplicated any of the two already surviving in the archive. The answer was a complete surprise.
The five Swedish episodes turned out to be compilations culled from all 13 editions of At Last the 1948 Show, containing material that worked best internationally. Although this was a valuable record, it didn't show the careful structure of the original productions that could be seen in the surviving two episodes in the archive.
There the story may have ended if it weren't for one Ray Frensham. Today, Frensham is a successful writer and broadcaster whose Teach Yourself Screenwriting book has sent many a budding film scribe on their way. But, in 1967, he was a callow teenager obsessed by the radio programme I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again (ISIRTA), which starred, among others, Cleese and Brooke-Taylor.
For Christmas 1964, Frensham had been given a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and he set about taping every edition of ISIRTA, as well as attending many of the recordings in person. He also kept tabs on individual appearances by members of the ISITRA team and, to this end, recorded off-air all 13 editions of At Last the 1948 Show. Not only that, but Frensham logged all his recordings and kept them in pristine condition.
More than 25 years later, Frensham spoke to Steve Bryant for an article in The Stage newspaper and mentioned that he had these audio copies. This gave Bryant the germ of the idea that it would be possible to reconstruct some of the lost editions of the series.
Now, some years later, the fruits of that collaboration are about to ripen. Frensham's audio recordings, or surprisingly good quality, were transferred to digital tape and combined with the surviving visual material from the Swedish compilations to make new copies of two 1948 Show editions. The results are tapes that restore the continuity of the original broadcasts, albeit with certain parts of each programme existing only as sound material played over a still photograph of the sketch.
Nevertheless, the overall effect is undeniably rewarding, offering a chance to enjoy again two editions of an important and hilarious series long thought to be Missing, Believed Wiped, and which featured this exchange between the proprietor of a particularly nasty joke shop (Cleese) and a bemused customer (BrookeTaylor)...
Cleese: The electrical toilet seat. Plug it in the mains, make the shock as strong as you like, burn the flesh. They won't take that sitting down, eh?
Brooke-Taylor: Yes, well, I think it's a little...
Cleese: Subtle? How about this one, then? Billy the Biting Telephone. Look, set this spring here, when Granny puts it to her ear - clip! Bites right into the lobe. Guaranteed has to be removed surgically - gales of laughter.
Dick Fiddy is a TV consultant to the BFI.
'At Last! The 25th Anniversary Restoration of At Last the 1948 Show' (the newly recreated editions and the story of their reconstruction) is at the NFT, London SW1 (020 7928 3232), tomorrow at 4.15pm, as part of the NFT's television festival, 'TV2000'.
(by Phil Wadey)
BBC Radio 4 - 24 Oct 00, 11:00pm.
Bill Oddie appeared as the Devil on a Radio 4 comedy show. Can't remember the name (well can't spell it) but it's based in an eastern European country. The cast try to raise the devil, but the only thing they can recite backwards is Nelly the Elephant. When they do this Bill appears.
"Is that really the Devil?" one says
"No, it's Bill Oddie from the Goodies" comes the reply!!
Bill then goes on to ask them if they've seen a blue faced booby and a central European white-faced warbler!
THE LITTLE BOOK OF MORNINGTON CRESCENT
(by Lisa Manekofsky)
After a long delay, "The Little Book of Mornington Crescent" was finally published in October 2000. This book is a tie-in with the long-running radio show "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue". The regular cast members (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer and Humphrey Lyttelton) are listed as the authors on the book's cover. Interestingly enough, the book's title page credits it as having been written by "Graeme Garden, Jon Naismith & Iain Pattinson not to mention Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer & Humphrey Lyttelton".
When it was originally announced, "The Little Book of Mornington Crescent" was supposed to contain a history of the popular game along with extracts from favorite rounds of "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue". However, the final product turned out to be substantially different. Instead, it is a delightfully quirky book which solely focuses upon the game of Mornington Crescent. The book is best described by this excerpt from its dust jacket: "In the latest edition of this soon to be out-of-print book, devotees Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer and Grand Master Humphrey Lyttelton review the distinguished history the game from Roman times to Chaucer and beyond. It includes biographies of the game's great exponents, tips on some of the finer points of play, a thorough glossary of terms and a selection of mouthwatering recipes." In addition, it contains a very funny index (and how many other books can make *that* claim?).
Fans of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" and devotees of Mornington Crescent should find this book to be a extremely enjoyable read.
TIM'S COMEDY LINKS
(by Alison Bean and David Balston)
Not content with the return of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue", Tim Brooke-Taylor stars in another Radio 4 series beginning next week. According to the BBC website "Tim's Comedy Links" combines 'comedy classics with 18 holes of action to explore the maddening absurdity of the game of golf.' It begins on Tuesday 14th November at 11.30am.
And the Radio Times says "Tim Brooke-Taylor enjoys golf as much as comedy, and proves the point by combining 18 holes of golfing action with a selection of classic comedy moments from his friends and heroes. From Temple Golf Club in Berkshire, he explores golf (in competition with Jasper Carrott, Duncan Preston and Kenny Lynch), while conjuring from the air the comedy of Ted Ray, Bob Hope, WC Fields, Al Read, Stanley Unwin and Ellen Degeneres.
NEW CLUE TAPES
(by Lisa Manekofsky - posted to Goodies-l on November 7th)
1. The "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue 6" set was supposed to have been released yesterday (6 November). It appears that there may have been a delay - no new release date has been posted by the on-line booksellers but amazon.co.uk still lists the set as "Not Yet Published".
2. Also due for release on 6 November (and apparently delayed) is the "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Collection". I finally dug up some additional information about the contents of this product. According to the BBC Shop, this is a box set containing the first three sets of ISIHAC tapes. Here's the description from their web site:
Name: I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Collection
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Volume 1/I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Volume 2/I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Volume 3.
Three volumes of inspired ad-libbery from the multi award-winning BBC Radio 4 series in a specially designed slipcase.
Contains 6 Cassettes
Running Time: 6 hours
If anyone is interested in the set, please note that it is currently on sale at WHSmith.co.uk for 20%, bringing the price to £18.00 (which I believe would be less than purchasing Vols. 1-3 individually). Here's the URL, for your reference:
ISIHAC - NEW SERIES
(by Alison Bean, with additional information from David Balston)
The latest news from the ISIHAC mailing list (join by visiting http://www.isihac.co.uk ) is that the new series of this wonderful programme will begin on Monday 13th November at 6.30pm on BBC Radio 4 and repeated the following Sunday at 12pm..
The first recording of the new series took place in Bournemouth on 30th October, with Tim, Graeme, Barry, Humph and Colin being joined by special guest Sandi Toksvig.
According to the list the show was very funny and Sandi was a fantastic guest. Despite the fact that they've ruined some of the rounds for me, I won't ruin it for you, but they have advised us to listen out for Tim's appalling version of an even more appalling recent pop hit.
As always the team relentlessly plugged their new offerings, two audio cassettes and a book, "The Little Book of Mornington Crescent". The book is already available through Amazon.co.uk though I haven't seen it in bookshops yet, perhaps it's caught in nid? The cassettes will be released soon apparently.
Fans of Sven may be interested to hear that he has recently applied for a position which involves lots of balls. At least that's what some guy on the list told me...
UPCOMING ISIHAC RECORDINGS
The dates and locations for the remaining Autumn and upcoming Spring series of 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' recordings (featuring Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden as regular panelists) are:
Sun 19th Nov: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry (capacity 858)
Mon 4th Dec: Wycombe Swan (capacity 1076)
Sunday 13th May - Reading Hexagon (capacity 1200)
Tuesday 29th May - Theatre Royal, Norwich (capacity 1318)
Sunday 17th June - Grand Theatre, Blackpool (capacity 1215)
ISIHAC - FEATURED ROUND
This month's featured round is "Postcards from famous historical events" with panelists Tim Brooke-Taylor, Tony Hawkes, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden.
* Barry: (Neville Chamberlain from Munich to Mrs Chamberlain): "Weather good. Hitler charming. Piece of paper follows."
* Tony: (Three wise men in Bethlehem): "Off to see new messiah who's just been born. Bit of a bummer with it all happening on Christmas Day!"
* Graeme: (from Pompeii): "Vesuvius erupted last night. We were all petrified!"
* Graeme: (Florence Nightingale from the Crimea): "Dear Matron, All a terrible mistake. In my letter I said I wanted to go to the cinema!"
* Tony: (Dr. Livingstone in the Congo): "Dear all, What a laugh this is! Stanley turned up again today. This time I hid behind the mud huts."
* Barry: (Beethoven to his agent): "Regarding my next commission, have you heard anything?!"
* Tim: (Mrs Julius Caesar to hubby from Disneyland): "Dear Caez, Place full of ghastly children. Wish you were Herod!"
5. FEATURE ARTICLE
THE GOODIES - A VICTIM OF OUR TIMES?
(by Alison Bean)
The 30th anniversary of "The Goodies" has been and gone with little acknowledgement or interest, but for the efforts of a few fans and Graeme Garden it would have been completely forgotten. The blame for this sorry state of affairs lies firmly in the hands of the world's television executives who are content to view the 70s as a tasteless, kitsch decade consisting entirely of flares, sideburns, bad after-shaves, disco, punk, glam rock and ABBA. The classic British comedies from this time are seen as being "The Morecombe and Wise Show", "Monty Python", "Fawlty Towers", "Are You Being Served?", "The Good Life", "To The Manor Born" and nothing else. "The Two Ronnies" fails to qualify because it's rubbish and "Benny Hill" fails to qualify because it's non-PC and rubbish.
As for "The Goodies", who were they exactly? Oh yeah, that birdwatcher, the guy from "Me And My Girl" and him off that show on Radio 4. That must have been a rubbish programme then! No wonder it hasn't been re-screened on British television since the early 80s. They should show "To The Manor Born" again, not only has it not been repeated on the BBC for several whole months, but it's classic 70s comedy! And it's about class snobbery - how valid. I bet The Goodies never did that.
Thanks to the television industry's rationalism of retro culture, this is what people out there in the big wide world are actually thinking. It's an effort for some of them to even remember "The Goodies" and if they do television reminds them, through clip shows and the like, that it was one of the bizarre excesses of the 70s that couldn't possibly be of more than passing interest to today's audiences. So when the BBC are thinking about what shows to repeat why would they, or anyone else for that matter, give the viewing public something different when they're on a winner with the 16 millionth repeat of "The Good Life"? Play it safe and give the people what they think they want, that's the motto of the contemporary television executive, in fact it's the motto of our times.
It has been alleged that Jane Root, Controller of BBC-2, has no intention of ever screening anything in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie have appeared ever again. Whilst I have seen or heard of no evidence to support this, other than a rumour that Bill Oddie once appeared on Gloria Hunniford's Channel 5 chat show and said he had received a letter to that effect, I have seen or heard no evidence that Jane Root thinks otherwise. Jane Root certainly turned down the idea of a Goodies 30th anniversary theme night, she has definitely refused to repeat episodes of "The Goodies" and she axed the magnificently acute political comedy "If I Ruled The World" (which starred Graeme Garden) and the wildlife series "Birding With Bill Oddie". But it is obvious to even the most casual observer that a programme like "If I Ruled The World" is far too clever and possibly even far too funny to fit in at the all-new, dumbed-down BBC. And if this conspiracy theory is true, can someone explain why Bill Oddie will be returning to the BBC with a new wildlife series next January? As for a Goodies theme night or repeats of the series, who the hell would watch that anyway?
Bill Oddie commented at the recent Cult TV convention that he does not hold a grudge against Jane Root. Whilst I find it hard to believe him, holding a grudge against her is somewhat pointless. Her job is and should be to find new talent and commission new programmes for BBC-2. So why should we get all upset about her not showing some old show from the 70s? Well take the BBC-2 Awards. Jane Root explained this new awards scheme was designed to find 'cutting-edge', 'innovative' new talent who would make 'ground-breaking' programmes that would 'change people's perceptions'. And who wins? Cyderdelic, an alleged comedy team doing bad versions of the sort of hippy/student-revolutionary send-ups that Nigel Planner and Rik Mayall did 20 years ago. Does Jane Root really think she can fool us into believing that this and BBC-2's current comedy output really falls into the 'ground-breaking', 'cutting-edge' category, when it can barely raise a smile, let alone a laugh?
If after all this expense and effort BBC-2 are unable to find new comedy talent worth watching, why don't they just cut their losses and show some old comedies? The thing is they do, often. Repeats make up an obscenely large proportion of today's television schedules, but what is it that we see? A wide variety of programmes or "The Good Life" and "To The Manor Born" in strict rotation? And when it comes to commissioning new programmes that celebrate old ones perhaps commissioners should listen to what they have said in interviews and apply those rules to them? Was "I Love The 1970s" 'on-the-edge', 'ground-breaking' and a programme which changed people's perceptions or was it just another cheap clip-show that gave people the impression that the 70s looks a bit sad on reflection? "The Goodies", which documented the 70s like few other programmes was given only five minutes of airtime in the entire series. And in the showcase of classic comedies from the 70s which accompanied the series, "The Goodies" mysteriously failed to feature, whilst episodes from programmes already repeated regularly on BBC-1 and BBC-2 were shown yet again.
Some of you may have seen David Lister's interview with Jane Root in The Independent on 7th November. Responding to an article in a newspaper from the previous Sunday which was based around a memo she had written almost six months before about the direction BBC-2 was taking, Jane Root confirmed that she still wanted to see BBC-2 move away from the avant-garde, Hampstead reputation it had acquired. Her aim was to make the channel appeal more to middle England by becoming more mainstream and more 'Telegraph-friendly', yet in contrast, she later agreed with Lister that BBC-2 should 'go upmarket.' The contradictions and Root's seeming confusion with the direction her channel is taking could not be more obvious. But as Root said in response to BBC Director General, Greg Dyke's criticism that BBC-2 seemed unsure of it's identity with programmes like Cruft's and "Robot Wars", 'let's have fun with that and accept it as a weird old thing'.
So why is "The Goodies" wrong for BBC-2? The sets and costumes may look dated and some of the show's targets may be dead or forgotten but it is inventive, dare I say experimental. And despite often being labelled as a 'kid's programme' it is quite obviously made with adults in mind. It is intelligent, informed comedy, which is more highbrow than you think, yet it is mainstream enough to appeal to people of all ages. Those that remember "The Goodies", remember it with fondness - will people remember the output of today's BBC-2 with such fondness? And could "The Goodies" be described as anything other than 'a weird old thing'? Interestingly, "The Goodies" appears to fit Jane Root's specifications for the ideal new programme. And what's more as a repeat it would be cheap to screen, thus saving her money for more of those 'ground-breaking' programmes we see constantly on BBC-2.
But Britain never sees "The Goodies", because Jane Root doesn't really care, she doesn't really want to try anything new or different and because she is too busy trying to prove otherwise, the last thing she probably wants to do is think about repeat schedules. She may have stated in an interview with BBC Online that BBC-2's job 'is to show you things that you thought no one would ever show you...' but she has yet to prove this. No one thinks BBC-2 will ever show us "The Goodies" again and they aren't. Not that we can blame her entirely, have any of her predecessors done any different?
And so to the ABC, who made "The Goodies" the popular phenomena that it is amongst young Australians. It is widely known that as far back as the mid 70s the ABC, like the broadcaster it wanted to be, the BBC, realised that "The Goodies" was just as popular with children as it was with adults. They began repeating it in the early evenings and throughout the 80s it became the programme the family watched before the evening meal. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to the series, if the BBC had done the same "The Goodies" would be the cult programme it deserves to be.
Unfortunately what the ABC was forgetting was that "The Goodies" is an adult programme. As a result the ABC felt it had to become super-sensitive and ended up removing everything remotely adult or offensive from sexual references to fart gags to the word 'bloody'. In hindsight it seems stupid and over the years the ABC at least relaxed their censorship, but imposing on it the tag of 'children's programme' has ultimately not done the series a lot of favours. I suspect this is partly why the ABC is at present reluctant to repeat the series, particularly in a more adult time-slot.
Over the years many people have tried to get the ABC to repeat "The Goodies". Several years ago their excuse was that the Foxtel pay TV channel UK-TV had bought the rights to the series and theirs had expired, making them unable re-screen it. Given that free-to-air network Channel 10 have been screening "The Simpsons" non-stop since the mid-90s and various Foxtel channels have been doing the same, it seems odd that the ABC would be unable to get the free-to-air rights to "The Goodies".
So what is the ABC's current attitude to re-screening "The Goodies"? Well, I'm glad you asked. You may remember that a few years back I started a petition through this club to get "The Goodies" re-screened by the ABC. The idea was that you went to the club's website, you printed off the petition form and the cover letter, you showed the cover letter to all your mates, got them to sign the petition and then sent the forms back to the club. Once enough forms had been received the club would send them to the ABC.
Perhaps the instructions weren't clear enough or whatever but in the past six months two people have sent the letter and the petition form to the ABC themselves. As the letter is addressed as being from myself, I have received replies from the ABC regarding this issue. I was very surprised to receive them as I have never written to the ABC about it, except by e-mail and that was several years ago (when you're about to hit them with a big petition, you don't tend to spoil the surprise by sending a letter first!). As disturbing as it is that someone can so easily send a letter that looks as if it has come from me, without my knowledge, I nevertheless applaud the efforts of the two people that did so as at least we know what the ABC think at this time:
25 May 2000
PO Box 325
Dear Alison Bean,
Thank you for your correspondence regarding the programme The Goodies.
It is many years since we have owned screening rights to this series and we are not in a position to play it.
I believe it may have been screened on Pay TV.
Network Communications Officer
Well that's great for people without pay TV, isn't it? Now let's see what happens when another mystery petition sender strikes, five months later:
25 October 2000
The Goodies Rule - OK!
PO Box 325
Dear Alison Bean,
Thank you for your letter regarding The Goodies.
The ABC used all available screening rights to this series some years ago.
I trust you will continue to find many new series to enjoy.
Network Communications Officer
Do you think Virginia was trying to tell me to get a life with that last line? And what exactly are these new ABC series that I should be enjoying?
Admittedly I have been away from Australia for six months now, but right up until I left I was a television critic for a local radio station and was fairly well informed as to what was happening in the Australian television industry. Particularly so regarding the ABC as I, like the rest of the country's television commentators, received a weekly pack from the ABC marketing department advertising their upcoming televisual wares. Over the Christmas/New Year period the ABC subjected us and the general public to their equivalent of a publicity barrage for their flagship programmes for 2000: the rural comedy/drama/soap "Something In The Air" and the quiz show "Flashback".
Like many other supporters of the ABC I tried gallantly to like "Something In The Air". But its main problem was that it was marketed as and tried to be the new "Sea Change" and it suffered for it and let's face it, it would be difficult for any kooky rural comedy/drama/soap to come close to "Sea Change", particularly series 1. It may have had the oh-so crazy characters, the producers may have brought the "Fast Forward" cast members who hadn't appeared in "Sea Change" out of retirement and it may have been shot on film in a picturesque rural Victorian town, but it was neither comedy or drama or worth watching. And I see it ended recently. Surprise, surprise!
(Editor's note: "Something In The Air" recently concluded its run for 2000, but apparently the ABC has commissioned a second series for next year.)
As for "Flashback", the idea of an ABC produced quiz show isn't such a bad idea. When I turned up to audition for it at the ABC's studios in Adelaide the producers told us that it was to be a classy show, there'd be no Eddie McGuire desperately trying not to say, 'miwl-yun-aire' and the host would be one of ABC Radio's top DJs. I was excited, I was positive - here was a great, new, intelligent quiz show being made in little old Adelaide. I encouraged the listeners to my television review segment to audition as well.
The show I ended up appearing on may have had more intelligent questions than your average quiz show but as entertainment it was a slow, boring affair. The host was some short, fat, balding bloke from ABC Radio, Sydney with no personality, no sense of humour and no ability to deal with the general public and my fellow contestants were two middle aged blokes with slightly less personality than the host. Despite the producers re-jigging the format slightly after the first series, the show has still failed to capture the public's imagination. The only positive I can come up with is that it provided much needed employment in Adelaide's ailing television industry.
Mysteriously, "Flashback" is still going strong. Failed contestants like myself (I was the token woman under 25) who have spent their $50 ABC Shop gift-voucher consolation prizes and are still recovering from the embarrassment of mixing up Pine Gap and Maralinga may seem resentful, but "Flashback" is widely acknowledged as being a fairly woeful programme. It's the boring "Sale Of The Century" and it's the show you watch if you don't fancy the news or repeats of "The Nanny". But Flashback's ultimate problem is that it works better as a comedy and in that sense it is probably superior to most of the ABC's recent comedy output. This is a shame as it should have been the classy and intelligent quiz show it set out to be, not the Australian quiz show equivalent of BBC-1's never less than poxy "Newsroom South-East".
Programming decisions like making kooky rural soaps and bad quiz shows prove that the ABC is not just copying the BBC again by trying to get away with sub-standard 'new' programmes, but trying to take Australian television back to the 50s, in the vain hope of appealing to Australia's massive generation of conservative baby-boomers. The ABC's equivalents of Jane Root and her posse have struck! Safety and popularity in programming is the key to surviving as a public broadcaster in this day and age, lest 50s lover John Howard slash your budget further. The fact that the ABC are telling me to look for new, fresh programmes is ridiculous, I would if they would care to make some!
I am not saying that the ABC should abandon their new programming initiatives to show us "The Goodies". It's just that when they replace their failed kooky rural soap with repeats of (you guessed it) "The Good Life" you wonder whether something new and bad might not be better than something average that you've seen a billion times before. If they want to repeat 70s comedies in the early evenings I could think of a few alternatives that haven't been seen in a while, one in particular which played with great popularity in that time slot for many years and also had the word 'Good' in the title. And as for an alternative to "Flashback", why don't they show that thing they used to show before "The Goodies"? Oh, what was it called? It had 'doctor' in the title. You know the one. "Doctor Finlay"! That's it.
But they won't - it's inevitable. The early evening slot has been repositioned by the ignorant ABC as a slot for the middle-aged and the elderly. It's no longer for crazy youngsters - they have "Recovery" and that radio station that plays all that loud music with the swear words in it. Adults never watched "The Goodies" with their kids and if they did, they were laughing along only as a way of bonding with them. Remember the time that Dad laughed so much he fell off his chair? Wasn't he a fantastic actor? Nah, adults don't want to see a kid's programme, they want "The Good Life". And when that's over they'll want "To The Manor Born" and "Keeping Up Appearances" and "As Time Goes By" and that thing where Penelope Keith has to bring up her grandchildren. And have you heard about that great new sitcom about the dentist and his family? Apparently it's the best new comedy on BBC-1, I hope the ABC buy it! Murdoch can go bankrupt on "The Goodies" and that 'doctor' thing, but we'll be!
enjoying the antics of that crazy dentist. He's a laugh isn't he? He's even grumpier than Mr Kelly from "Hey Dad!"
As for repeats of "The Goodies" in the rest of the world - fat chance! People in the United States, for example, haven't seen "The Goodies" for around 20 years. When I used to be President of this club it used to amaze me that we had more American members than British members (another sad reflection on the lack of "Goodies" repeats in Britain). The fact that anyone in the United States remembers "The Goodies" with such clarity and fondness from their limited screenings on late-night PBS in the late 70s and early 80s, let alone several hundred of you, shows what a fantastically funny and memorable show it was. It must be incredibly frustrating that so few people in the United States remember the show, let alone want to see it repeated, but I know that there are those of you who have tried and good luck to you.
It is encouraging that BBC Prime has screened the odd repeat of "The Goodies" to other parts of the world, such as continental Europe, but what sort of impact will that have? Particularly in countries where English is not the first language. But at least some small part of the BBC is willing to take a chance and try something new in repeat schedules.
Given all this, perhaps the way forward is video releases? Here we reach another snag. Two "Goodies" videos were released in Britain in the mid-90s, "The Goodies And The Beanstalk" and "Kitten Kong" and at first things seemed to be going well. The trio did the rounds for publicity and even The Daily Mail gave them a full page spread. This was a very exciting time for fans of the series, there were rumours of more episodes being released on video and maybe even the production of a new Christmas special. But BBC Enterprises were releasing so many programmes on video at this time that only the strongest could survive. Without the back-up of repeat screenings to remind people who had not seen the show for almost fifteen years what "The Goodies" was, the videos failed to sell as predicted, were re-launched several years later on the budget label Right Price Comedy and forgotten about. People still experience problems getting hold of these videos, in fact they always have done.
Australians arguably had it worse, the videos were barely promoted by ABC video, most probably because the ABC had 'lost' the screening rights to Foxtel. Finding them in shops, even the ABC Shop, turned out to be a nightmare. The whole exercise was one big missed opportunity; "The Goodies" videos were potentially a massive seller in Australia and if sales figures were disappointing ABC video has only itself to blame.
So people, are you angry yet? Doesn't it seem incredible that not one newspaper in the world published a 30th anniversary tribute to "The Goodies" and not one radio or television station presented a documentary celebration of the show? Doesn't it annoy you that Jane Root turned down the idea of a "Goodies" theme night? That she is rumoured to have pulled the plug on the intentions "I Love The 1970s" had of screening some "Goodies" episodes? And that as far as any of us are aware, not one production-company in the world is interested in making the documentary that Craig Wellington promised us at Kitten Kon? (Mind you, I haven't heard from Craig since June - if you can prove me wrong Craig, please do!). And don't you want to be able to go out and buy more Goodies videos? Well if you do, what have you done about it?
Have you collected signatures for this club's petition, let alone signed it? Have you seen "The Goodies" appear all-to-briefly on silly clips and thought 'they should show that again' and then actually written to television stations to ask for repeats? If you have not you have no right to complain that "The Goodies" is no longer on television or that so few episodes are available on video, because you have done nothing.
At least we have Graeme Garden writing to the broadsheets. How good it was to see another of his tongue-in-cheek e-mails to the Guardian's diary column on October 25th, reminding its readers of the anniversary and that he is in no doubt that BBC-2 will mark the occasion properly. They may have mispelt his name as 'Graham' (typical Grauniad!) but at least it was there. And no doubt 'Graham' was as unsurprised as the rest of us that the highlights of BBC-2's schedule on 8th November were "Rick Stein's Seafood Odyssey" and "Friends For Dinner" and not a four-hour Goodies spectacular. But as Jane Root said in The Independent 'I'm obsessed with owning the genres', the genres to which she refers including programmes on cookery. Remember people, BBC-2's job is 'to show you things that you thought no one would ever show you', like even more cookery programmes.
Graeme himself made this very point when he wrote to The Independent in response to their Jane Root article.
Sir: Hats off to Jane Root and her innovative plans for BBC 2. More programmes about food, gardening, art, classical music, religion, business and the countryside. What vision! And how wise of her to donate her comedy jewels to BBC 1. No wonder she has never been happier.
No doubt she recalls that today (8 November) marks the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast on BBC 2 of The Goodies, a comedy series which tackled subjects such as food, gardening, art, classical music, religion, business and the countryside, not to mention the History of Britain, etc, etc.
Graeme couldn't even be bothered to hide his bitterness. But why should he have and doesn't he have a right to be bitter after all those years he put in down the Beeb? "The Goodies" has been treated appallingly over the years and by the very people that made it. When BBC-1 is scraping the bottom of the retrospective barrel with "The Best Of British: Caroline Quentin" you'd think that 'ground-breaking' BBC-2 could at least devote half an hour to one of their biggest successes. And Graeme is not the only Goody to get out there and make some noise. Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie often mention the lack of repeats, the popularity of the show in Australia and occasionally, the work of Ms Root in interviews. It's more than some of their so-called fans are prepared to do.
I'm not saying you have to write twenty five-page letters every week, just a couple of concise, thoughtful letters to the right people. When writing your letters here are some points to consider:
* You may believe in what you're saying, but chances are the person reading it won't. Sell the program to them, tell them how great it is, how it has a wide appeal to many people and leave them wondering why it hasn't been screened recently or why more videos haven't been released.
* You might be passionate about the topic, but make sure you don't sound like a lunatic. People who work in feedback departments tend to attach more credibility to sensible-sounding letters.
* Presentation is everything. Neatly hand-write or type your letter and don't forget to check the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Remember a real person will have to read your letter and as frivolous as this may seem, they will attach more credibility to it if it looks good.
* Do not e-mail it. The official policy of the BBC's viewers feedback department (and no doubt that of viewers feedback departments around the world) is to treat all opinions expressed through e-mail with very little credibility. They may hand out awards for internet innovation and bang on about how the internet is the future of television, but they really think that all comedy fans on the internet are anoraks, geeks, mad freaks and psychopaths. Do not allow these people to patronise you or disregard your valid opinions!
* Do not quote this article, because in the eyes of the people who work in feedback departments I'm probably an 'anorak, geek, mad freak, psychopath'. And do not quote the thoughts of others, you are not writing an essay, they want to read your real thoughts.
* By all means use this article as a reference but remember that parts of this article are speculation. Taking my speculation and using it as fact will hinder not help your argument.
* Two letters are better than one, so encourage anyone you know who likes "The Goodies" to write too.
Television networks around the world are not addressing the needs of you, their most interested viewers. Quality doesn't seem to be the priority with broadcasters anymore it is giving the impression that there is some. It is the fault of past and present television programmers that we have not seen "The Goodies" on television for a very long time. And whether this is due to forgetfulness, ignorance or an agenda against "The Goodies", it is inexcusable. Given the current situation it is up to you to make the right people aware that you and many others want to see "The Goodies" back on television and more widely available on video. It is possible to get what we want, so don't give up until we have got it.
"The Goodies" ran for 11 years and in that time over 75 episodes were made. The series won two silver roses at Montreux, the team had four top 20 hits, they released seven or so albums, three books, an annual, had a comic-strip based on them and at their peak got ratings of 10 million on the BBC's minority channel. The series made millions of people around the world laugh, happy memories of which inspired 300 people from around the world to turn up to a convention in Melbourne, which only raised over $9000 for charity. And when The Goodies reunited on stage at the National Film Theatre in May tickets sold out in three days. And what did the BBC could come up with as a celebration of their 30th anniversary? The question 'Which comedy team had a hit song the Funky Gibbon?' on last Tuesday night's edition of "The Weakest Link" (the one on BBC-1, not BBC-2) and even that was mostly likely a coincidence. Use this as your inspiration to try and change that and don't let "The Goodies! " remain a victim of our times. My letters will be in the post next week, will yours?
People to write to concerning repeats of The Goodies:
Mr Greg Dyke
Director General of the BBC
BBC Broadcasting House
LONDON W1A 1AA
Ms Jane Root
BBC Television Centre
80 Wood Lane
LONDON W12 0TT
Mr Paul Jackson
Head of Comedy
BBC Television Centre
80 Wood Lane
LONDON W12 0TT
Head of Programme Complaints
BBC Broadcasting House
LONDON W1A 1AA
80 Wood Lane
LONDON W12 0TT
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
ABC Corporate Relations
GPO BOX 9994
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Head of Television Programming
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
GPO BOX 9994
SYDNEY NSW 2001
People to write to concerning more video releases:
The Chief Executive
80 Wood Lane
LONDON W12 0TT
GPO BOX 9994
SYDNEY NSW 2001
Some websites you may care to visit:
6. GOODIES EPISODE SUMMARY
(by Brett Allender)
Series 3, Episode 3
First transmitted: 18th February 1973
The Goodies are each reading a different newspaper, which all feature similarly gloomy news (and the vital statistics of the shapely Julie Ege!) when they come across an article on the withdrawal of the British team from the Winter Olympics due to lack of decent training facilities and an advertisement placed seeking a new team. They are not the least bit interested, as they are sick of making fools of themselves and getting hurt, so they tell the Minister of Sport to "push off" when he arrives at their office. However he gives them a politician's word (for what it's worth!) that they will get money and training facilities for the Winter Olympics, which are to be held at the North Pole.
The training facilities are in a top secret location, so they ride the trandem blindfolded (with a cactus as a map) to the coldest spot in Britain - Bognor on a bank holiday! There they find a very spartan shack to toughen them up, with few creature comforts other than an all-in-one treatment centre (vibrating bench, cold shower with buckets of water, liberal dousing with oil and massage with thumping mallets - no takers, not surprisingly). The equipment for the training session is also disgracefully inadequate, which enables Britain to further its reputation as the best losers in the world (as they get the most practice at it!)
Upon arrival at the North Pole Hilton, the Minister is waiting for them and they find all sorts of whale blubber dishes on the menu, apart from the chicken surprise (where the surprise is that it's really whale blubber after all!) and a massive walrus pie (with two huge tusks poking out from under the pastry). Tim's hands freeze up in the basin and Bill cops a faceful of water (which quickly turns into an icy mask) from a submarine periscope and they beg to be allowed to go home.
A training session on the snow and ice is an utter disaster with none of them being able to stand up, let alone compete and they return inside frozen stiff (although Eskimo Nell thaws them out very quickly indeed!). Graeme decides that they would have a better chance of competing if they melted all the ice and toys with the idea of using hot water bottles (it would only take 178,000 years to do the job!), before they take to the skies on a balloon-powered trandem and attach a sun ray lamp to a large butterfly.
The clouds clear away and the ice starts to melt, as the opening ceremony taking place in an ever-deepening pool of water. The Eskimoes feel the heat and the other competitors are fully submerged, but the Goodies coast along on their inflatable dolphins. They win a swag of medals in the figure skating, ice (water) dancing and ski jump and triumphantly return to Britain, but realise that they have left their sun ray lamp still dangling from the butterfly. Graeme goes gaga and his computer blows a gasket from calculating the rise in global sea levels from the melting of the ice cap, while a knock on the window reveals the Minister Of Sport holding his breath underwater. Tim gets ready to let him in until Bill and Graeme bellow desperately at him not to do it.
* Bill: "We're not daft, you know."
Minister of Sport: (disappointed) "Aren't you really? I was told you were!"
* Tim: (patriotic speech about competing in the Winter Olympics): "Remember friends, we are Englishmen. We'll do it. Not for reasons of personal pride. Not for the glory. Not even for the thrill. We'll do it for one thing and one thing only ... (turns record off) ... a lot of money!"
* Tim: "We're in training. From now on there'll be no more drinking, no more smoking and no more ... holding hands with girls."
Bill: (moving towards Eskimo Nell): "I wasn't gonna hold hands with her! Ahahaa!"
* the portrait of the British 3 man bobsleigh champs - three coffins draped with Union Jacks!
* their training session with Bill and Graeme in a grotty old orange box bobsleigh and Tim in skis consisting of wooden shelves nailed into his feet with roller skates attached underneath. Tim is initially towed along behind the trandem, but breaks away, requiring Bill and Graeme to chase after him in the bobsleigh and they have a hair-raising ride through the streets of Bognor, bowling over a Salvation Army band and flying through the air over several obstacles in the process.
* the ad for Soft Golden Dairy Margarine with Tim dressed as a housewife opening up the fridge and getting swept off his feet by a torrent of runny margarine.
Heanz Meanz Beanz - "When I Go Home From School"
"Soft Golden Dairy Margarine
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
A few interesting visuals and funny quotes plus the cool 'Winter Sportsman' tune, but overall a fairly plain episode which is of a similar standard to several of their series 2 episodes.
II Fair-y punkmother
BLACK PUDDING RATINGS SYSTEM:
IIIII - Superstar.
IIII - Officially amazing.
III - Goody goody yum yum.
II - Fair-y punkmother.
I - Tripe on t' pikelets.
Whack the diddle-o blue! Pull up a jumbuck and take the weight off ya billabongs 'coz THE GOODIES EPISODE SUMMARIES book is still available and hot off the presses! Even thicker than the SleepalongaMax volume 98 record collection and far easier to comprehend than Eddie Waring's rugby scores, THE GOODIES EPISODE SUMMARIES is jam packed with gibbon-loads of Goody things such as:
* detailed summaries for each of the 75 episodes of the show (including fully revised versions of the first 10 summaries printed in the newsletters)
* the lyrics of some classic Goodies songs.
* heaps of cool photos from actual episodes and publicity sessions.
* an episode guide/contents page and signed author's introduction.
* alphabetical indexes of guest stars, songs and mock advertisements.
Each book is spiral bound with a plastic cover and costs $20 plus postage of $4 within Australia and $14 overseas.
More information and details of how to place orders will eventually appear on the GROK website, but can be obtained for now by e-mailing Brett Allender at firstname.lastname@example.org All profits from the book will go towards club activities such as the staging of future Goodies conventions, so why not be a sport and do yourself and the club a favour by ordering your copy of THE GOODIES EPISODE SUMMARIES today. You know it makes sense!
7. QUIZ & QUOTE ANSWERS
(a) Bill Oddie
(b) He is reading out a typical wanted ad in an English newspaper while looking for work.
(c) Cecily. (Series 1, Episode 6 - the "haunted house" episode)
(d) Land Of Hope And Glory.
(e) It is a tiny disc of plastic with nothing on it.
(g) Cilla Black, because they can't stand listening to her high notes.
(h) For Those In Peril On The Sea. (aka The Lost Island Of Munga)
(i) Nasty Person.
NEXT EDITION: #60: December 12th 2000.
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