Bill and Tim cycle along through the English countryside on the trandem (with Bill balancing a picnic basket at the back) and come across a sign for the 'Pets Corner Rest Home For Clapped-Out Old Animals', whose proprietor is none other than Dr. G. Garden. On their way to the house, Tim and Bill pass by a succession of crippled old animals (including a goat with glasses and long beard, and a pig relaxing in a hammock) and give Graeme a huge surprise upon entry, as he hadn't expected them to find him. Initially Tim and Bill are "touched and proud" that Graeme has decided to spend his month's holiday "devoting (his) time to look after poor old tired animals"; however Graeme's general evasiveness and eagerness to get rid of them without introducing them to his animals ("That's a dog and a cat and some other animals there, sorry you've got to be off …!"), and also the extremely cold temperature inside the house, starts to arouse Bill's suspicion.
Tim wants to know the names of all of Graeme's pets, to which Graeme unconvincingly reveals that "They're all called "Kenneth". Tim greets Kenneth the budgie (who promptly goes belly up on his perch) and Graeme then makes Kenneth the hamster appear to spring to life. As Graeme tends to his pit pony (which is kept in a deep pit below a trapdoor in the floor), Bill observes that the animals are "not exactly vibrantly lively" (which Graeme excuses on account of their old age) and that "I reckon they're all dead!" Tim initially apologises to the animals for Bill's blunt remark (saying sorry to all of the various Kenneths) but then asks a somewhat rattled and off-guard Graeme to get the animals to show some of their tricks. Graeme desperately tries to oblige and sends Kenneth the tortoise catapulting through the air off a see-saw (with a little help from a mallet!), after which Kenneth lands on an unsuspecting Tim's head like a military helmet (leading Tim to call out "Where are you Kenneth? Who's a clever Kenneth?" as he hunts around in vain.)
Bill grumbles "Graybags, you might fool old softy-pants over there, but you do not deceive me!" and although Graeme agrees that one of his hamsters is dead (after he has thumped the one pointed out by Bill with his mallet!), he still tries to bluff and pretends that a motionless cat has eaten a kipper (by calling "Oh look everybody, Kenneth the guinea-pig is doing a handstand!" and shoving the kipper in his own mouth amid the distraction!) Bill is very persistent however and figures out that the chilliness of the house is due to it being "one giant deep-freeze"; proving his point by snapping the leg off a "frozen stiff" dog, which forces Graeme to hastily knock together a rough wooden leg and attach it to the dog using a hammer and nail (while complaining that Bill should "treat my clients with a little bit of respect!", then giving an order of "Die for the Queen" and walloping the dog out of view with a big swipe of his mallet!)
Graeme is eventually sprung and has to admit that he has snap-frozen the animals, as he "can only charge money if the owners think (their pets) are still alive." Tim and Bill are initially horrified at Graeme's shifty scheme until he reveals that there is much money to be made from the rich pet owners and he offers them a cut of the proceeds too. More wealthy old dears soon arrive by chauffeured limousine and tearfully hand over their precious animals to the extremely callous Graeme, who takes their money and instantly treats their pets with utter contempt. Meanwhile Tim and Bill start to become snap-frozen themselves inside the house (with Bill's beard icing up rather like that of an Arctic explorer) as Graeme outlines his loony taxidermy experiments, such as stuffing a cube-shaped dog with sage and onion (B: "You're supposed to take (the stuffing) out of the box!" G: "Now that's what I thought when I stuffed that poodle last week. Tasted horrible!") Graeme also tells of having entered a St. Bernard stuffed with air into the Crufts dog show last night (though it rapidly deflated when the winner's rosette was stuck into it!), while a cold and hungry Tim enjoys munching on some "excellent pickled walnuts" from a jar until Graeme tells him that they are actually terrapins!
Graeme opens the front door (on his way out to "get some more dogs to throw on the fire"!) to find a large parcel with an accompanying letter from two old-age pensioners, who have been saving for many years to buy a horse so that "then we could send it to a good home for the rest of its life". The letter reads "Please find horse enclosed" (with a puzzled Graeme shaking out the envelope and letter in vain!) and the pensioners promise to send Graeme their life savings – "just as soon as you've trained him and he has won the Grand National". This would be a difficult ask at the best of times, but even harder by virtue of the racehorse (purchased from "Sir Lew Knackersyard; butcher and theatrical impresario") being of the pantomime variety!
Tim gets all carried away with the excitement of owning a horse and channels Liz Taylor from 'National Velvet' (by turning into a breathless, brainless, horsey upper-class twit!), while a disbelieving Bill calls Tim and Graeme "a pair of nutters" and sarcastically dismisses the horse (named "Black & White Beauty" by Tim – "So black and he's such a beauty! Of course, that's what we must call him ... ni**er! No!") as a "old heap of compost", though he then wants to buy Beauty himself, but Tim refuses to part with his beloved horse. Bill then takes over as tenant at neighbouring Sunny Meadows while its owner is on vacation and plans to turn it into a stud farm ("I shall raise a nice crop of studs ...!") in a bid to train a Grand National winner of his own. Graeme and Tim put Beauty through a rigorous training and exercise session (rigorous for them at least, as they have to carry the horse everywhere on their shoulders!) as a pensive Bill watches through binoculars from the fenceline and constantly curses that he "must have Beauty" for himself.
Later inside the house, Tim is excitedly knitting a saddle to go with the horseshoes that he has embroidered for Beauty, but Graeme cautions "One doesn't feel that one's getting too involved with one's horse, does one?" and remarks "My my, listen to that wind" (to which Tim gushes "Sorry sorry, it's just that I'm so excited!") Tim goes to the door to "put Beauty in his stable", but cries out "Oh no, he's gawn ..." as the howling wind has blown Beauty right out of the yard. A worried Tim flounces outside to search for his horse as Bill's problem of how to get Beauty (as he paces along the boundary fence) is promptly solved when the horse lands on top of him after it descends from a great height on the breeze. Bill starts to relentlessly flog the prone Beauty with his whip ("On your feet ... don't you know your new master when you see him?!") and he tells a distraught Tim that "I just caught your precious Beauty trespassing ... on my head! So now he belongs to me. It is the law of the land."
Bill treats Beauty very cruelly (as he jumps up and down on him, hits him with an axe and blasts him with a machine gun!) which leads to Tim's epic teary run across the meadow with the theme music of 'Black Beauty' playing in the background. Graeme watches events unfold from the doorway and offers consolation, but is told to "Leave me alone!" by a distraught Tim; who pushes him away into a pile of rubbish bins. Graeme gets up and angrily shakes his fist at Bill (who cackles gleefully as he runs away with Beauty hoisted on his shoulders, only to run over the horse with a tractor shortly afterwards!) and is furious at him for "treat(ing) animals like that" (while at the same time tearing a strip of fur off a frozen cat to roll for his pipe!), but admits that the "headstrong and reckless" Beauty now belongs to Bill ... unless he and Tim can "steal the beggar back", of course!
Tim suggests that they should ask the friendly local gypsies ("good kind people") to help steal back Beauty, but Graeme suggests that they dress as gypsies themselves so that the real gypsies will get the blame when the horse goes missing. Tim and Graeme boldly attempt the heist (while loudly singing "We are the gypsies! Coming to steal the horse!"), but Bill has seen them sneak into the stable and comes after them with shotgun in tow. There is just one place left for Tim and Graeme to hide - inside Beauty himself - with Tim at the front and Graeme at the back. Bill enters the stable (loudly threatening to do terrible things to the gypsies when he catches them) and figures that he "must have scared them" as only the gypsy's clothes are left scattered on the floor. Bill notices that Beauty is now rather animated ("Friends of yours, were they, I suppose?!") and threatens to stay there as a guard all night as he prepares the trembling Beauty for a "greater shock" (wisely putting a bucket on the floor at the back first!) when he reveals that he will ride Beauty in the Grand National tomorrow.
At the race track, an uncooperative Beauty refuses to come out of his horse float and is promptly posted as the 10,000-1 rank outsider by the laughing bookmakers. However his odds are trimmed significantly when a devious Bill nobbles all of the real horses in the stables with funny cigars containing "certain substances" (which also nobble Graeme somewhat too upon him sniffing the smoke!) and buckets full of Tequila Sunrise, as he chuckles "You'll be left at the gate, you useless clapped-out old nags!". Horses lay down in mounting yard as their owners weep in dismay and Bill gets on the phone to plonk a small fortune on Beauty at juicy odds; though he finds Beauty in the phone booth next to him after he hangs up. Tim and Graeme finally reveal themselves to Bill and Tim informs him that "We're not even going to amble the Grand National!"; however Bill insists that they must run because he has put their money on Beauty winning ("A little bit of my money, a great deal of (Tim's) money and all of (Graeme's) money!") Bill (as the jockey) describes Beauty as "bloody useless", but consoles himself with the notion that Beauty would be the only runner left in the race after his skulduggery. However Tim has "fixed all that" with his phone call and Beauty now faces a challenge from a number of other pantomime horses in the field.
Once off and racing, Beauty has a few problems with the hedge hurdles (which are soon solved with Bill's use of a ladder and then a brushcutter) and is going okay (according to some rather frenetic commentary) until Graeme gets stuck in one of the hurdles, which stretches the horse out to huge proportions until a speeding car cuts it in half. With his ladder now broken, Bill heaves Beauty high in the air over a hurdle only for the horse to sink in the water jump on the other side (with Bill firstly having to give Tim mouth-to-mouth, then go back shortly afterwards to retrieve and revive a sunken Graeme). Despite these dramas, Beauty comes back strongly and is involved in a head-bobbing tussle with another horse along the straight which concludes in a photo finish (with both horses and riders posing for a spread of 10 x 8 glossies just before the winning post!) while all of the other horses overtake them and go past the post in the mean time. Bill is then pictured aboard a grocer's cart and he grumps "You lost it - you're gonna have to earn it!", as Tim and Graeme inside Black & White Beauty are forced to provide the 'horsepower' at the front.
* Graeme (about the animals that he is supposedly taking care of): "All right, they're dead. I admit it. Look, when they come to me they're old, they're frail, they don't last very long ... (fiendishly) … not the way I treat 'em!"
* Tim (horrified at Graeme fooling the owners that their dead pets are still alive): "Really. How could you deceive these people?! These loving, caring, lonely ..."
Tim (changing tune): "... rich people who deserve every penny we can screw out of them!"
* Bill (sarcastically, about Tim's lack of horse sense): "You don't even know which end the bit goes!"
Tim (offended): "Yes I do ... and don't be so vulgar!"
Tim & Graeme (in sing-song voices): "Hello, we are the gypsies! Coming to steal the horse!"
* Graeme being extremely evasive with Bill and Tim when they unexpectedly come to look through his home for "clapped-out old animals"; blaming the freezing room temperature on "these old houses" being draughty, quickly showing them the animals before unsuccessfully trying to send them on their way, responding to Tim's query about names with the remarkable revelation that every single one of the animals is called "Kenneth" and trying in vain to fake some movements and tricks from his animals, such as his brilliant animation of the hamsters ("Kenneth, Kenneth, Kenneth and ... um, Kenneth!") like the bushbabies in previous Goodies episodes. He finally comes clean ("Ruff ruff, meow, eek eek eek, [whistle], ruff, meow ... alright, they're dead!") and admits that his animals are being kept looking fresh in the deep freeze-like conditions so that he can screw more money from their rich owners when they come to visit.
* The procession of sad, wealthy old owners handing over their precious pets to a suitably solemn Graeme, who greedily snaffles their money, then cruelly despatches of their pets. He supposedly kicks a cat through the door, throws the cage containing "poor old Polly" the parrot through an upper window, and machine-guns a stick insect, before he nonchalantly waves goodbye to the owners (with hat over heart, but a dismissive expression on his face) then whistles a happy tune as he heads inside.
* Bill frustratedly pacing up and down along the fenceline plotting how to get his hands on Black & White Beauty, only for the horse to land on his head after being swept from the yard by the strong wind. Bill's subsequent brutal cruelty to Beauty (like tipping garbage on him and skittling him with a tractor) leads to one of the all-time classic Goodies scenes of a sobbing Tim dramatically loping across the meadow to the 'Black Beauty' theme. Graeme then stretches his arms out in consolation only for a distraught Tim to push him on yet another spectacular fall into a pile of rubbish bins, with Graeme getting to his feet and furiously shaking his fist at the real culprit Bill before storming inside and taking his temper out on a dog, which comes rapidly somersaulting out the door shortly afterwards!
* Graeme and Tim dressed as gypsies and loudly advertising the fact that they are coming to steal Black & White Beauty, having found that Bill has been ill-treating him ("Oh poor Beauty. Has he been cruel to you? Oh does it hurt? There there ... ooh, and there!"), before finally realising that Bill will shoot them on the spot. They hurriedly remove their gypsy gear and hide inside the horse, as Bill menacingly enters, spots the piles of clothes strewn on the ground and remarks "My God, I must have scared 'em!"
* Tim being shocked that the horse in the next stall is puffing away on a funny cigar ("Hey, that's certain substances, that is!")", with Graeme getting convincingly high himself after taking a sniff ("Hey, where'd you get the stuff man! Cool baby, cool!") Tim's discovery of an alcoholic mixture in the horse's bucket ("How would a horse know how to mix Tequila Sunrise?!"), several needles protruding from its rump and little reaction after hitting it hard across the face with a shovel (a remedy which also helps to bring around a spaced-out Graeme shortly afterwards!) finally leads him to conclude that Bill has nobbled the other horses too.
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
The rather amusing characterisations from each of the three Goodies - Graeme's callous animal attendant, Bill's even more callous horse trainer and Tim's upper class horsey twit persona - help to reinforce what perhaps isn't one of their strongest plots (as it relies heavily on laughs from the supposed ill-treatment of animals, which may not appeal to everyone), although some of the classic scenes are very memorable indeed.
BLACK PUDDING RATING