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A Collection Of Goodies Media Interviews
Graeme - Mature Times Apr 2007 - Print Email PDF 
Posted by bretta 27/12/2009

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MATURE TIMES – 3rd April 2007)
 (Lisa Manekofsky  – 8th Apr)
 
 
Back to the Goodie Old Days
By Tony Watts - Editor - 03/04/2007
 
Sometimes it takes the passing of time for a comedy's true worth to be appreciated. When The Goodies were winning huge audience shares back in the 70s, there was a tendency - as Graeme himself admits - for them to be deemed "uncool".
 
Coming in the wake of Monty Python, their blend of tomfoolery, muck-about humour and daft songs was wildly appreciated by millions, young and old, but the "uncool" image stuck; which meant that where other series earned endless repeats, the Goodie tapes remained undisturbed in the BBC vaults until relatively recently. Amazingly, they managed to offend Mary Whitehouse in those days (which admittedly wasn't too difficult). "So we thought, let's go a bit further," says Graeme. "So in the next show Bill appeared wearing a pair of pants with a carrot on the front."
 
Looking back, their slide from TV fashion was remarkable. After all, their seven series were huge hits all over the world and even won Silver at the Montreux Television Festival. The BBC itself let the trio move to ITV when they dawdled over the making of another series. "In those days we relied heavily on the wonderful BBC special effects team," says Graeme. "They had Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to look after as well as us, but couldn't make up their minds on where to use their resources. LWT waved their cheque book at us, and so we switched channels."
 
After a series there, the Goodies effectively came to a halt. The famous three-man bike, once powered by Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke Taylor along with Graeme, went into storage, along with the funky gibbon outfits and exploding trousers.
 
Not that it halted Graeme's career. He went back to radio, having devised the absolutely brilliant I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue panel game and keeping his considerable writing skills honed creating TV series including Doctor in the House, Surgical Spirit and The Astronauts. He has also fronted a number of medical programmes (he trained as a doctor), wrote novels and plays and pursued a successful career on stage.
 
In the intervening years he has also directed films and worked with John Cleese, writing training and information films for Video Arts. Graeme also now works for a spin-off company, The Production Tree, his latest video aiming at families of Alzheimer sufferers. And, if anything, the last few years have been even busier than his Goodie days: his penetrating, acerbic writing skills are in huge demand; and if you watched the highly acclaimed series Absolute Power, starring John Bird, well that was him as well.
 
So how did the Goodies reunion come about? "Blame it on the Australians," he says. "The BBC didn't start repeating our shows until fairly recently, but in Australia they've been on ever since, so there are whole generations of people who have been brought up with us.
 
"We were asked if we would do a 'reunion' tour over there and thought 'well it's far enough away if all goes wrong'. But it turned out really well – the audience was full of people of all ages. We were asked to go back, but Bill couldn't make it. So we did it without him - using cut out models and so on to fill in his parts.
 
"Then we were asked to take the show to the Edinburgh Festival, which was a bit closer to home - but that went well too. So here we are!"
 
The show is not simply a reenactment of the sketches - more a fond, illustrated tour through the show's history, showing some of the vintage clips on screen. "It would be impossible to do some of the slapstick stuff on stage," he says. "When we made a TV show about the Goodies a few years back, they dug out the bike; but before we could find out if we could still ride it we were told that it would be against Health & Safety!"
 
The trio also revive some of the sketches that started Graeme's writing career - going right back to his student days. I can vouch for the quality of those having cut my teeth writing for stage 25 years ago by hacking some of his old sketch and panto scripts for use by our local drama club, with Graeme showing great forbearance with my efforts.
 
The show's formula is going down well throughout the country, and it's no coincidence either that a DVD of some of the Goodies' old series is also selling quickly.
 
There's something hugely timeless about their humour. It's only one small side of Graeme - as his sharper, harder material in other programmes demonstrates, If you look back on his body of work over the last 35 years, from I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again through to the recent Unbelievable Truth, it's plain that he has been one of the biggest influences in British comedy in that time.
 
But it's The Goodies that he will always be best remembered for: a show that will continue making people laugh for generations to come. "I'm extremely grateful to the Goodies," he says. "It provided us all with a really good platform for our futures."
 
It might not be cool. But it's still very funny.
 



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