The episode starts with advertisements screened for Low Suds Mold washing powder ("Use Low Suds Mold … or we send the boys round!") and Captain Fishface's cod pieces ("Captain Fishface has your children. If you want them back, send 2000 wrappers from Fishface Cod Pieces – but make it quick!"), but a fed-up Tim loudly objects and declares "That is enough!" The Goodies have set up their own advertising agency (with them all being sharply dressed and known by their initials, at least for the first part of the episode) and TBT is annoyed that he has "twerps" like BO and GG ("... save time ... call you BOGG!") making despicable ads (such as a photo of Margaret Thatcher with the milk ad slogan of "Are You Getting Enough?") after he has "handed over the creative side" of the business over to them.
TBT laments "Whatever has happened to the advertising man's traditional code of practice?" (BO: "You mean, telling lies?!") and BO informs him that they are "running the biggest advertising agency in the world" because GG's expert "MR - market research" has revealed that the lowest class of consumers (the housewives – "bless their little cotton sox!") have stopped believing the sales pitches for household products (such as Raz washing powder, for which GG confirms that the housewives "have finally sussed out that the filthy muck turns their undies grey, brings them out in a rash and rots crimplene!"). Therefore, according to GG, "if we can't deceive (the housewives) we've got to bully and trick them" into buying products; hence BO's campaign jingle for Harvest Moon perfume ("Harvest Moon, the scent that lingers. Buy some ... or I'll break your fingers!")
GG makes a "perfectly reasonable appeal to the submerged yearnings of the average housewife" in his sales pitch for Kenny Kornflakes ("Just like Betty Robbins, you could be … the first woman to become Pope … and heavyweight champion of the world!") and a bald-faced scare campaign for Sunbeam bread ("Nine out of every ten doctors agree that people who don't eat Sunbeam sliced bread will get squashed by elephants!") TBT dismisses these ads as "lies, all lies!" (to which GG justifies "They're quite good lies!") and insists on ads "with a new miracle ingredient ... t-r-u-t-h!" (to shocked gasps and stares from BO and GG)
A series of honest new advertisements are produced, but the ads are so truthful about the problematic products such as Vibena blackcurrant juice (which rots the teeth of a mother and daughter) and Nosho dog food (which causes the dog to snuff it after a reluctant feed) that monthly sales figures of all goods plummet to zero, to a sarcastic "Well done TBT" from a despairing BO. Shortly afterwards Tim re-enters the room as a dirty, scruffy, smelly slob (having "readjusted (his) values" and gone back to basics by snubbing the "useless gimmicks and fads of this modern world" - including soap, deodorant and toilet paper!) and will only let Bill and Graeme advertise one basic product which must be the "very epitome of integrity" Tim not only knocks back Graeme's initial suggestions ("soap powders" and "big fast cars") but also dismisses basic products like bread ("too racy!"), water ("ooh no, far too sexy!") and tea (G: "Forget it, we can't do tea ... it's made with water!") before he finally agrees to an ad campaign for "good old honest string" as it is "a product beyond reproach", much to Bill's delight ("Good old Tim, full of the joys of string!")
Ads are produced for string which show the great lover Casanova not responding to a maiden's charms (as "he has been drinking too much lager") until she extracts a piece of string from her ample cleavage to the voiceover that "string refreshes the parts that beer has reached" (with Casanova suddenly giving a randy grin and the two of them being at it like knives behind the bushes in no time afterwards with clothes being tossed wildly into the air) and Tim as a white-suited, cocktail-sipping smoothie who puffs and splutters away on a lighted piece of string offered to him by a bikini-clad girl who frolics on the edge of the beach. Meanwhile in the office, Tim congratulates himself with all sorts of lavish praise for popularising string (at least until his inspiring speech is rudely interrupted by 'Hello Cheeky' on TV!), though Graeme and Bill take little notice of his bragging; mainly because they have left two look-alike dummies behind in their place while they're off up to no good!
Tim tunes into 'Tomorrow's World', in which the presenter Raymond Baxter (clad in just a string vest and string undies) showcases string's many uses, including as a substitute for conventional electrical wiring ("it's safer and cheaper because it doesn't work!") and as a replacement for knee cartilage in hospitals (as demonstrated by a remarkably loose-legged patient). This program is followed by 'The Wonderful World Of String', in which it is revealed that Britain is already suffering a string shortage, as the local production (granny Bill and his knitting needles!) is in its infancy. String needs to be imported (as Arabian workers - Bill and Graeme in fez hats and kaftans - busily unravel thousand year old carpets while doing hilariously silly dances in the process!) and it is "piped across the desert" and processed in the "huge string refineries of Southern Europe" to remove the foot odour, camel wee, belly dancers' sweat and other unpleasant stains and smells from it!
The string shortage worsens as the Arab string sheiks (who look rather suspiciously like Graeme and Bill in disguise) horde a huge mountain of string in the desert and demand outrageous prices for it. Tim's assertion that these string sheikhs are evil "criminals" only draws a recorded "Yes Tim!", "Most certainly!" from the two dummies. Tim finally realises "I've been duped!" and he races to the studio, only to turn the light on and find that the two Arabs being interviewed are cardboard cut-outs. Once Tim switches the lights off and leaves, the cut-outs come to life again and two black-clad, gibberish-spouting figures flee from the BBC into the more spacious ATV studios, with Tim in hot pursuit.
Graeme and Bill sing the catchy 'Everybody Loves String' song on a studio set, while an annoyed Tim tries to stop them ("Don't buy string! String is evil! String is nasty and horrible …!") and he manages to push their screens out of the way (sending Graeme hurtling sideways through a wall and tumbling spectacularly into an oversized tub of Soft Margarine). Tim manages to hold a Scottish string jingle (complete with cries of "hoots, toots, och aye!") above his head and mostly out of view (until Bill tickles him under the arm, forcing him to drop the screen) and he also comes across the Heanz Meanz String boy (surreally played by himself – "My Mum bought me some string today, 'cos string is better than beans!") and splatters a plate of baked beans into the kid's face. An angry Tim then goes after a chuckling Bill, who enters a bedroom, dons a gas mask and sprays Tim with a blast of Kung Poo aftershave. Tim goes Kung Fu-crazy, but meets his match when a tall amorous lady bursts in and starts to chase after him. Tim eventually puckers up for a kiss; only for the lady to advance and flatten him with a series of lethal karate hits, and the stars that he sees while dazed give way to reveal a giant tin of Deluxe Paint
Graeme gives Tim some cheek and he runs around the tin a few times with Tim in pursuit before he disappears through a door in the side. Tim opens the door to chase Graeme, only to be swamped by a deluge of red paint. A black-clad Bill leaps down a hillside and presents Tim with a gold chocolate box that explodes upon opening, which leaves Tim blackened and wild-haired. Bill (dressed as a dumpy, frumpy housewife) then leads the charred Tim to a washing machine and forces him to crawl inside it, while the white-coated Graeme proudly shows off the cleaning power of Bubble X. Graeme's liberal dose of Bubble X produces an overwhelming cascade of soap suds from the washing machine, which firstly submerges a worried-looking Tim then engulfs Bill and Graeme for good measure.
The unstoppable suds ooze out the ATV studio windows, and also foam up everyone's TV sets. A thumped fist on one TV sees the screen smash and a whole room rapidly fills up with soap suds, before the suds are wiped away to reveal the three Goodies sitting together on their sofa. The Goodies watch the credits roll on their TV (back-to-front for us viewers) and Bill comments "Oh well, I didn't understand all that!" Graeme's comment that it was "Surrealism" is countered with Tim's comment "S' a load of rubbish!" and when Jim Franklin's name appears, Tim laughs that "He's probably trying to win a prize." Graeme then emphatically remarks "Well he won't!" and switches the TV off.
* GG (regarding his market research): "Now as you know, our potential market is divided into certain social classes according to income, intelligence, that sort of thing. These we call classes A, B, C and D. That's D for dumb, C for clever, B for brilliant and A ... for Advertising Men!"
* BO (doing the voice of Betty Robbins' children in the Kenny Kornflakes ad): "She's a wonderful Mum."
GG (doing the voice of Betty's husband): "And a terrific lay!"
* TBT (incredulously): "Look at this. Nine out of every ten doctors agree that people who don't eat Sunbeam sliced bread will get squashed by elephants!"
GG: "That's right. Mind you, it did take us a long time to find the right nine doctors, woo hoo, hoo (he and Bill make loony signals) ... and the elephants!"
* BO (frustrated): "All that namby-pamby truth nonsense. I mean that's no good to the housewives ..."
GG (chiming in): "Bless 'em!"
BO (annoyed): "Bless 'em, bless 'em … silly old cows!"
* Tim (about water being "far too sexy"): "Yes, mention water and what's the first thing that springs to mind, hey? A nubile young nymphette in a wet shirt, the damp, almost transparent fabric clinging to her every contour, rivulets of water trickling down her sensuous form! (composes himself) At least that's what springs to my mind!"
Bill (taken aback): "Oh! Some people have all the luck, don't they?!"
* Tim (proudly, delivering his string sermon): "There may have been an economic crisis, but did I panic? Oh no, you did, but not me. I simply came up with the answer – string, glorious string!" Any fool could see that. And I did! But not you" … "I don't feel unnecessarily superior. I just am superior!" … (sings jingle) A million housewives every day, pick up a piece of string and say, 'God Bless Tim Brooke-Taylor'!" (shortly afterwards) "I do not want money. Do you want a dumpling? (throws dumpling at dummy Graeme, tilting his head to the side) "Look at me when I'm making a speech! I do not want money. I do not want wealth. (to the rising strains of the 'Hallelujah Chorus') All I ask is that people humbly and honestly sink to their knees and worship me! Tim Brooke-Taylor, the saviour of the world, the golden-coiffed angel of deliverance. Borne to you on the wings of string …! ('Hello Cheeky' theme starts up on the TV) Well, nobody's perfect. Just put it out at the wrong time of the night, that's all!"
* Narrator (about string being piped across the desert for processing in Southern Europe): "At this stage it's fairly unpleasant stuff, coming as it does from dirty old Arab carpets trodden on by dirty old Arabs and their smelly socks all soaked in camel wee and hair oil and soggy bits of half chewed turkey's liver and belly dancers' sweat ..." (causing factory worker Bill to throw up heartily into the string vat!)
*The lyrics of the "String" jingle which Bill and Graeme sing, much to Tim's annoyance:
String, string, string, string, everybody loves string
String, string, string, string, everybody needs string
Pull up your pants, slip on your vest
Everyone agrees, string is best!
* The two mock ads that kick off the show; firstly with a white lab coat-wearing Bill slapping a housewife in the face, upending her kitchen table, belting her over the head with a packet of washing powder and pushing her off her chair when she refuses to use Low Suds Mold instead of her regular detergent. Two lab-coated heavies then enter and pick her up as Bill threatens to belt her with a rolling pin; only for her to finally agree with much sobbing that "Alright Joe, it's the best!", with a roughly-spoken voiceover of "Use Low Suds Mold … or we send the boys round!" The second ad features a mad-staring Graeme as the appropriately-named Captain Fishface, who appears to have a crew of kids happily sailing along with him (as they cheerfully chorus "Ahoy there Captain Fishface") only for a note spiked on the mast of his boat to reveal that he has kidnapped the children and is threatening to put them in his rissoles if their parents don't send in 2000 wrappers from his cod pieces!
* The three Goodies in slick vests with striped shirts as the super-smooth advertising men, TBT, GG and the unfortunately-initialled BO, giving a great parody of the greed and power involved in the advertising world. Most notably, GG and BO departing from the "advertising man's traditional code of practice" (telling lies!) to produce ads which bully the class 'D for dumb' consumers (the housewives, bless 'em, bless 'em!) into buying their products, until TBT suggests "advertising with a new miracle ingredient" - truth!
* The truthful ads showing Janice Thromby and her little girl with increasingly rotting teeth thanks to their craving for the "sweet sticky blackcurrant drink" Vibena, Jock McPhee's champion dog eventually and rather reluctantly eating Nosho after being given the not-so-tasty alternative choices of nails, broken glass and manure (though still needing to be nudged towards the Nosho with a broom after stopping for a nibble at the broken glass!), then snuffing it shortly afterwards, and Mr Rudyard having "no idea" of the recipe for his almond regency slices because he's got "a ruddy great factory that does all that!"
* Bill and Graeme detecting a horrid stench in the office and subtly enquiring if each other is responsible (B: "All those in this room called Graeme Garden hold their hand up (sniffs) It's not you …!" G: "Bill, have you …?!") until a putrid dishevelled Tim enters and they guess that he is trying to impersonate either Rod Stewart or the Incredible Hulk. Graeme politely comments "Tim, you appear to have dressed carelessly", only for Tim to announces that he has "readjusted (his) values" and forsaken all sorts of modern gimmicks such as "smart clothes, expensive food, toilet paper, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, foot powder …" Naturally Graeme and Bill see this as a marketing opportunity (just as any self-respecting advertising men would!) and spout lots of advertising jingles (including "ink, oil, gravy – stains that are really hard to budge", "a close close shave gets you noticed" and "there's that other problem that even your best friends won't mention, but here's a clue: Poooh!") while trying to flog all sorts of personal hygiene products to him in his time of need!
* Graeme and Bill's attempts to find one reputable product to advertise that Tim doesn't object to, especially Graeme launching into a big spiel about bread ("Well right off the top of my head, shoot me down in flames on this one if you like, we'll just kick it around, throw it out on the back porch, see if the cat licks it up. How about a slogan like …") before struggling to come up with "Bread is ... nice!", only for Tim to dismiss it as "Too racy!". Also Tim's hilarious rant about water being "far too sexy", with Graeme's later comment of "Forget it, we can't do tea. No, it's made with water!" sending Tim bellowing on about "Chappell hat pegs!" and "Jelly on a plate!", much to Bill's barely-suppressed amusement.
* Tim lavishly praising himself about his ingenious string ad campaign ("A million housewives every day, pick up a piece of string and say, God bless Tim Brooke-Taylor!") while not realising that Graeme and Bill have left dummies sitting there listening to Tim's spiel. The dummies automatically reply "Yes Tim!", "Most certainly!", while the real Graeme and Bill are making huge profits as string-hoarding Arab baddies.
* All of the brilliant final chase scene, which is described in greater detail in the plot section, and the last bit where the Goodies are watching their own show in a surreal twist (with the credits rolling backwards for us viewers) and commenting that they didn't understand any of it!
Raymond Baxter, Marcelle Sammett, Valerie Leon
Low Suds Mold, Captain Fishface Cod Pieces, OLIPDD, Are You Getting Enough? (Margaret Thatcher), Harvest Moon Perfume, Kenny Kornflakes, Sunbeam Sliced Bread, Vibena Blackcurrant Juice, Nosho Dog Food, Rudyard's Almond Regency Slices, String (Refreshes Casanova), String (Cigars), Heanz Meanz String, Kung Poo Aftershave, Deluxe Paint, Exploding Chocolates, Bubble X Soap Powder
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
Brilliant send-up of the greedy, scheming advertising industry, with some of the funniest mock ads ever made, heaps of great quotes and visuals, infectious music and the wonderfully surreal final chase scene all combining to produce one of the truly great Goodies episodes.
BLACK PUDDING RATING