The Goodies attend a Sotheby's art sale and while Tim looks forward to an enjoyable cultural experience, Bill is only interested in getting a bargain ("Right, let's see what they're flogging, hey?!") which causes Tim to hiss "You little peasant!" at him. The auction looks more like a disorganised jumble sale and Tim rather sheepishly admires a nude Renoir painting, while Bill hassles the auctioneer (who is unveiled from beneath a dust cover rather like one of the old paintings) for a 'Monarch Of The Glen' painting and for all of the "special stuff that you keep in the back room". The art sale has attracted art connoisseurs from around the world (chiefly filthy-rich Americans in ten-gallon hats with cameras dangling around their necks) who bid outrageous prices without the auctioneer even having to take the dustcovers off the pictures.
The first item for up sale is a portrait by Velazquez (which no-one notices that it's hanging upside down!) and it is described by the auctioneer as one of the artist's finest works ("So's I get a lot of money for it!") It has been the "pride of the British Gallery" in the past but the auctioneer "would like to think (it) would find its final home on the bathroom wall of one of you stinking rich Americans!" Tim suddenly gets all righteous about English art treasures leaving the country and thunders: "It is the duty of every Englishman in this room to join me here and defend our heritage." (to which Graeme says to Bill in resigned fashion: "He means us!"); giving a rousing patriotic speech to those assembled (T: "... for we stand in defiance of you as proud Englishmen" …" B: "Proud Englishmen." T: "Just as Velasquez was a proud Englishman …" B: "He was Spanish!" T: "Never mind that! He looked English … a bit!") until the auctioneer tires of his carrying-on and tells him to make a bid.
The Goodies have just 13 pence between them and are swamped by first American bid of one million pounds, so Bill and Graeme are ready to walk away until a defiant Tim shocks them by making a bid of "two million pounds" unexpectedly. This sparks a frenzied bidding war between Tim and the Americans (with accidental encouragement from Bill, who echoes Tim's bids in amazement, forcing the price to rocket up higher until Graeme clamps his hand over Bill's mouth to shut him up!) Tim's final successful bid is a staggering one million billion trillion quintillion zillion pounds and 2 1/2 new pence (half a penny more than the Americans can stump up) and the auctioneer takes great pleasure in calling out "Sold to the maniac with the poofy tie!" as Bill and Graeme cheer with delight and before reality hits (B: "What are we cheering for?!" G: "I don't know ...!" B&G (in unison): "What have you done you, fool!" )
The Goodies' downpayment of 13 pence is sufficient for them to be allowed take the painting back to the office (where it is hung on the wall, still upside down, for Tim to lovingly gaze at) and they ponder how on earth they are going pay for it. They invite the Arts Minister over to accept the Velazquez for the National Gallery on behalf of the nation, but he is less than impressed with it (as he says to Tim: "What is it? Did you do it?!"), especially when he receives the massive bill for it as well (to appropriate fanfare from Bill & Graeme) The Minister takes a vote among the "cross section of the British public" that are in the office (G: "I'm British" B (cheekily): "I'm a cross section!") and when Bill and Graeme don't want the painting (to Tim's cry of "Traitors!"), the Minister concludes that "Two out of three British people don't want it!" Tim then produces a massive petition with four million signatures (all his, prompting the Minister to call him a "nuisance" and a "loony art lover") demanding that the Velazquez be displayed at the gallery and the Minister claims that in order to recoup the money he will have to pass a law requiring everyone to come to the gallery to see the painting "three times a day for the next twenty years at an entrance fee of 20 pounds. Old age pensioners 40 pounds." (G: That's a bit unfair, isn't it?" Minister (smarmily): "Well they can't take it with them!")
Tim takes a further stand against the proposed gallery fees (causing Graeme to say "Ooh you are a little troublemaker!") and the Minister rather reluctantly agrees to take the painting and pay the Goodies for it when the government gets an unexpected windfall. Graeme knows that this is unlikely to happen and after being buttered up by a grovelling Tim (G: "If you think you can flatter me ... you're right!") he hatches a plan to steal the National Gallery's other art treasures (which are incidentally insured for one million billion trillion quintillion zillion pounds) so that the insurance money that the gallery receives will be enough to pay the Goodies for the Velazquez. The Goodies find out that the National Gallery is closed for the afternoon while annual spring cleaning is taking place, so they pose as cleaners and give the artworks a fearful scrubbing and beating (with nice sight gags like Graeme shampooing the hair of a sculpture and Tim pegging a series of clean fig leaves out on a clothesline), before they pile them in a cart behind the trandem (with Rodin's 'Thinker' sculpture propped up on the middle seat between Tim and Graeme, while Bill runs behind carrying the Mona Lisa) and cart them all back to the office.
The Minister unveils the newly-purchased Velazquez to an audience consisting of only the Goodies, but it is just a hand-drawn copy that he has made himself, as the real one is locked in a vault behind the copy seeing as it is far too valuable to put on public display. With all of the other artworks stolen, there is nothing left to view and so the Minister is about to close the National Gallery. Tim lodges a petition to keep the gallery open (which the Minister receives the very second that Tim posts it in the mailbox!) but the Minister doesn't want to buy back the rather dull artwork from the gallery which is strewn around the Goodies office (the Goodies claim to have fortunately obtained the artworks from Greenshield Stamps while the Minister complains that he only won a lawnmower!) The Goodies don't want the Gallery to sell the Velazquez or raise entrance fees and also don't want to donate all the artworks to the gallery for nothing, while the Minister wants artworks but doesn't want to have to pay for them, so the ensuing haggling leads to mind-numbing confusion among all and sundry and the Goodies just about freak out from the strain of it all.
Graeme's solution is to turn the National Gallery into a money spinner by making it a fun place to visit, which is achieved by turning it into a theme park where people mistreat the artworks in all sorts of ways. This backfires badly however, as the Minister is so delighted with the money-making capability of the gallery that he sacks the Goodies from their role and hands control over to experts; then hits the Goodies with a further bill of "one million billion trillion quintillion zillion pounds" for the artworks that they have damaged. After much soul searching (T: "I've been wrestling with my conscience." B: "Who won?" T: "I did!"), Tim finally gets down off his high horse and decides to flog off the Velazquez and other treasures to the American art lovers, but is horrified when they have gone off the paintings and are uninterested in making a bid. Fortunately for the Goodies, the Americans are captivated with Bill's prized 'Monarch of the Glen' portrait and although Bill initially refuses to part with it (causing a distressed Tim to wail "I can't take it ... I'm going out the window!") Graeme's magic paintbrush soon creates dozens of copies for the Americans to gleefully snap up.
* Bill (looking at the nude female painting that Tim has just uncovered): "Who's that?" Tim: "Renoir" Bill (surprised): "I thought he was a fella!" ...(after hearing that the painting is worth 50,000 pounds): "I could get a life subscription to Playboy for that!" ... (to Tim): "You want that sort of thing? I know a little shop in Soho. Swedish films, Danish pictures ...!" Tim (disgusted): "Ooh, you're so common!"
* Tim (sounding rather embarrassed): "Um ... excuse me ... ah .. .I was wondering about the Renoir ... you know ... the lady with ... or rather without any ... um ..."
Auctioneer (loudly): "The nude, Sir ?!"
* Tim (to the Americans): "Too many times you've taken too much from us. London Bridge ... the Queen Mary ... Julie Andrews and David Frost. And we're grateful!"
* Graeme (regarding a portrait that he is cleaning): "Honestly, look at it. This chap had no idea about painting. I mean, no wonder people don't want to chuck tennis balls at boring old faces like that! No commercial sense at all!"
* Tim, Bill and Graeme all going very close to cracking up from the strain of trying to strike a deal with the Arts Minister for the Velazquez and other paintings; particularly when the Minister says "I heard about three chaps who say they do anything anytime" ... (mad cackles from the Goodies) ... "I saw an advert (looks around at sign on wall) ... yes, there it is! What a heavenly coincidence!"
* The Goodies turning the National Gallery into a fairground-like theme park with plenty of spruiking and lots of fun activities such as shooting ducks in a painting, throwing darts at a rocking 'Whistler's Mother', playing 'Pin the ear on Van Gogh', wiping the smile off the Laughing Cavalier (Bill) by throwing cream pies at him, knocking the arms off Venus de Milo in a coconut shy and playing crazy golf through Henry Moore statues.
Julian Orchard, Tommy Godfrey, Ray Marlowe
Cathay Lather Soap Test
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
Only a few good visuals in the National Gallery sequences and not many memorable quotes with a heavy emphasis on the confusion created from the buying and selling of the artworks. Although this is well written and acted out, it really doesn't tickle the funny bone all that much.
BLACK PUDDING RATING
Used (and abused) art works for sale
Bill pesters the auctioneer for a bargain
The rich Americans buying up all of Britain's artworks
Another patriotic speech by Tim
A big bid from the Americans
Tim is delighted with his costly Velazquez
The Minister for the Arts
A toothbrushing and rinse for the Mona Lisa
Bill gives the artworks a beating
Graeme hard at work shampooing the statues
A thoughtful passenger on the trandem
Bill as the Laughing Cavalier
Tim as the Mona Lisa
The Henry Moore Krazy Golf Korse
Playing darts with Whistler's Mother
Pin the ear on Van Gogh
Graeme's magic paintbrush creates another Monarch of the Glen