Tim returns from a brisk morning jog to find Bill and Graeme barely awake at the breakfast table (accidentally upending their breakfast as he bounces around the room) and demands that they do their early morning exercises, which have been programmed into Graeme's computer. While Tim energetically throws himself into his workout, Graeme and Bill sneak away and speed up the music to the extent that the computer spits paper everywhere and blows a gasket, while Tim collapses on the floor in exhaustion. An annoyed Tim asks "What did you do that for?!", to which a laughing Bill simply replies "Fun!"
A circular - in name and shape - arrives in the mail and consists of a letter on one side and a record on the other. The letter merely has the instructions "PTO" (to which an impatient Bill snaps "PTO. Put T'it On, that's what it stands for!" at Graeme) and the record contains a desperate advertising pitch for the sending of schoolchildren to the Loch Jaw school to participate in the Way Outward Bound adventure course (to "maybe earn a Duke of Glasgow Award" with "a signed certificate and free hospital treatment" thrown in). Tim is all for character-building outdoor education for Britain's youth, while Bill and Graeme soon agree when they are able to haggle with the voice on the circular for a bounty of 25 pounds per child sent. The Goodies strap a cage on the back of the trandem and go off in search of recruits at a local schoolyard, but all of the kids run swiftly inside when they hear Tim spruiking on a megaphone, before they reappear to chase the Goodies away in a rowdy swarm.
Tim rings Loch Jaw with the bad news of no new recruits for Way Outward Bound, which prompts a flow of tears to gush out of the phone all over Tim, as the school may have to close down. The Goodies therefore decide to dress as schoolchildren themselves in a bid to keep the fine outdoor school tradition going (and to pocket the 25 quid!), so a trip through the quick change cabinet sees Bill emerge in shorts, blazer and cap, Tim dressed like a nursery school boy with a curly wig and huge teddy bear and Graeme ("Amazing Gracie!") in a tunic, with hair in plaits and hockey stick in hand.
They ride to Loch Jaw on the trandem (with the toll gate descending and knocking Bill off the back of the bike on the way in) and are hauled inside one-by-one (including Tim's teddy, which is dragged through the door with a big squeak!) to be greeted at the "barracks ... er, school" by Ex-Sergeant Major Bullcock. He demands that the students address him as "SAH"! and outlines the four basic principles that the Way Outward Bound course is based on – "cleanliness, godliness, short hair and cruelty!" He gruffly tells Bill to "Get your face cut", then spies Graeme at the end of the row and queries "Hello hello, what's this boy doing wearing a skirt? Are you kinky or something?" Graeme responds in a high-pitched voice that he's not, to which the Sergeant-Major says "Oh, pity!" Tim interjects: "Please Sir, he's not a boy, he's a girl, Sir." and after a short exchange the Sergeant-Major bombastically states "Well don't worry, we'll soon make a man of you!"
Graeme goes on to say that he doesn't want to play any nasty rough games because he's a "sweet, fragile, innocent schoolgirl" which practically causes a riotous stampede among the Sergeant-Major's offsiders and forces him to aim his rifle at his henchmen and tell them to back off as "I saw her first!" Graeme's pleas of "Save me!" to the Sergeant-Major draw the response that he'll save her alright – "for later!" – and when the Matron starts taking down the particulars of her new students, Graeme has to admit to having the name of "Amazing Gracie", much to his own disgust, so as not to give the game away. Tim and Bill give their ages as being 12 and 14 respectively (after Bill initially claims to only be 4), but "Gracie's" claim of being 17 is rubbished by the others, as they claim that she's a "fibber" and "doesn't even wear a bra yet!"
The Goodies are divided up into appropriate patrols for the course ("Mad Mitch Patrol" for Graeme, "John Wayne Patrol" for Tim and "Spiro Agnew Patrol" for Bill!) by the Sergeant-Major, who tells them "When it hurts, it does you good … and if you're very lucky it'll kill you!" They endure a brutal outdoor assault course before they are bedded down by the Matron onto a wooden table (which collapses under their combined weight) with logs for pillows and a plyboard sheet. Bill squeals in pain ("Look out for the knothole!") and manages to get a goodnight kiss from the Matron, much to his delight (with a lusty roar of "Cor blimey, wallop!" afterwards and a request of "Gracie, give us a cuddle!" to an appalled Graeme!) but the Goodies are woken up almost immediately by the Sergeant-Major and his henchmen for night training. The easy sections of the course (like mountain climbing, fell walking and knot tying) are already done with and it's onto the heavy stuff like bazooka drills and anti-tank procedures, as the Sergeant-Major claims that if they can't have a war, this course is the next best thing.
The Matron enters the dormitory wheeling a pram and objects that all of the nighttime noise has woken up the babies. The Sergeant-Major soon puts a stop to all of the commotion with a bellow of "Babies, go to sleep!", but the Goodies are highly suspicious as to why there are babies present at such a rough and nasty place. The Sergeant-Major tells them that the babies are there to do the course too – "get 'em young, that's when they learn best" – and enforces discipline as he wakes the babies up once more and then commands them to go back to sleep again (to which they instantly obey, causing Tim to mockingly say "I'm going to tell the Duke on you …" as he leaves the room).
This discovery that there are large numbers of babies being trained as a private army alarms the Goodies, so they visit the Matron (as she is the only person that they can trust) and tell her the evil deeds that the Sergeant-Major and his henchmen are up to, much to her shock and disbelief. After she offers them "a nice hot cocoa and choccy-woccy bickies", the Matron helps them to hatch an escape plan (through a gap in the barbed wire fence past the searchlight and machinegun post, with only the dogs and minefield to worry about after that!) but she refuses to go with them as her place is "there with the children."
The Goodies are just about to make their getaway when the Sergeant Major and his offsiders enter for more weapons practice, so they confront him and he is shocked when he finally realises that guns can actually kill people (rather than simply being "for carrying on your shoulder in a smart orderly fashion") and claims that he is only following orders. The Matron then surprisingly reveals that she is the one who is really in charge (peeling off her nightdress to reveal a military uniform underneath and opening a wall section to show a secret control panel), with "a lifelong dream of power over an army of unthinking obedient warriors". Within a few short years of training her babies, she will have a "crack regiment" to unleash on an unsuspecting world – "then I shall be conqueror!" – which initially draws applause from everyone present until a horrified Graeme tries to talk her out of it. Tim reveals that he and his other two school chums are in fact The Goodies, but far from being intimidated, the Matron merely instructs her troops to dispose of them. Tim's last request (after Bill has butted in with a request for Des O'Connor singing "Bring Me Sunshine"!) is for a final session of physical exercise, during which they quietly sneak out of the room, but they soon come under heavy fire from the army of brainwashed babies once the Matron realises that they are trying to escape.
After they finally subdue the tiny soldiers (with bottles of warm milk from the supply depot cow!), the Goodies wheel the babies off into the sunset and back to the office to deprogram their military minds with a freedom speech from Graeme that Tim translates into baby talk. However the continual racket of crying forces Tim to bark at the babies just like the Sergeant-Major did ("Babieeees. Go to sleeeep!") and he gets carried away with his new-found power, next getting them to burp on cue (with a rebuke of "Wait for it!" to one tiny tot that fires off early!). To the despairing cries of "He's going … he's going … he's gone!" from Bill, an increasingly-loony Tim even plots a Matron-like world takeover, as he spurts "Just think, in a few years time they'll be able to do the housework and then maybe, yes, my own private army of slaves. Don't you see, I can rule the world … If I had my own private army I'd be unstoppable. I can see it now … Tim OBE, King Of The World! I shall start training them tomorrow. I'll take over the world, the universe, Mars, maybe even the Radio Times …!" This sudden outburst of megalomania forces Bill to pacify Tim by shoving a bottle of milk into his mouth, with help from a worried Graeme.
* Graeme: (reading address on circular) "Dear Sir or Madam ... (cheekily) oh Tim, it's for you!"
* Sergeant Major: "In this school we have no sex and no smoking ... (turns to Bill) so if you could spare us a pack of fags and a dirty book, we'd be very grateful!"
* Graeme (to the Matron, who wants to take over the world): "You're wrong! You're so wrong! It's been tried before, it never works. Genghis Khan, Attilla the Hun … I've even tried it myself, it's not worth the effort, dear!"
* Tim and Bill's stares of open-mouthed amazement when Graeme first emerges from the quick change cabinet after having changed into his "Amazing Gracie" costume.
* The Goodies dressed as schoolkids tackling the brutal assault course, with them dodging machinegun fire, Tim getting swept up by a huge rolling boulder, having to scale electric fences and dodge landmines, with Amazing Gracie's plaits getting stretched to an enormous length (helping Bill and Tim to scale a wall) before being chopped off by a guillotine, and all three Goodies being knocked out cold at the completion of the course.
* The entire scene with the babies on the warpath, including a platoon of crawling troops, babies firing dummies into the Goodies' mouths from guns, Graeme having to deal with an exploding rattle, bottles of milk being rained down on them from toy planes in a ferocious aerial bombardment, prams equipped as tanks (of which one takes a huge close-up potshot at the Goodies when they are trapped in an upturned cot), babies using jumpsuits as catapults and nappies as parachutes, with the Goodies finally being able to quell the tiny troops by raiding the supply depot (a cow!) and putting the babies to sleep with bottles of warm milk.
* The final scene where Tim gets carried away with the power that he commands over the babies, especially getting them to bring up wind in unison ("wait for it, wait for it!") and starts raving on about taking over the Radio Times and becoming King Of The World, forcing Bill to hurriedly shove a bottle of milk into Tim's mouth to shut him up!
Joan Sims, Bill Frazer
Run (I'm Coming To Get You)
They're Taking Over
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
A good cover of the stereotypical army barracks complete with a loud and bombastic Sergeant-Major, plus a thinly-veiled swipe at the English upper-class boarding school system. The episode is made even more interesting by the clever merging of the unlikely themes of babies and battle with some brilliant visuals and a couple of unexpected twists towards the end.
BLACK PUDDING RATING