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A Collection Of Goodies Media Interviews
Bill - Goodies 30th Anniversary - 2000 - Print Email PDF 
Posted by bretta 27/12/2009

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GOODIES ANNIVERSARY REVIEW

 (by Lisa Manekofsky)

 

(from C&G #64  April 2001)

 

The following article appeared in British newspaper "The Mail on Sunday", 28 May 2000  on page 61 (in the "Review" section):

 

"Fact is just as funny as the Goodie life"

 

The Truth About the comedy team's most memorable gags

 

This week The Goodies marked the 30th anniversary of their first show with a celebration at London's National Film Theatre.  During the Seventies the three Goodies - Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie - became one of the most popular comedy teams on television.  But here Bill Oddie reveals that the three starts had more in common with their zany TV counterparts than you might expect ...

 

"One thing people remember about The Goodies is the three-seater bike we used to ride.  Over the decade or so of The Goodies we had three or four of them.  We called them trandems - like a tandem, but for three people.  I think we made that word up, and I don't think a three-seater bike had ever existed before we made one.

 

Anyway, the first one was constructed from a tandem at the front and an old bicycle at the back.  Because of the way the two bikes had been attached, I didn't actually have to pedal.  The reason we kept falling off was because it was very difficult to co-ordinate the pedalling.  If we got it wrong we would kick each other.  So, what looks like us trying to get a laugh by falling off the bike was actually for real.

 

People used to think our lives as Goodies continued outside the show.  We were called by our own names in the programme and we appeared to all live together at 'No Fixed Abode, Cricklewood'.  Actually, people used to send letters to that address - and they got to us!  The Post Office obviously knew for whom the letters were meant.

 

To be honest, there was a very thin line between the characters in the show and our real selves.  We took our natural characteristics and exaggerated them.  Because I was quite fiery, I became the belligerent one; Graeme, who was a doctor, became a kind of mad scientist; and Tim, because he had a double-barrelled name, had to be the posh one.  But if anybody embodied the views of all of us, I suppose it was me - because we were all really anti-Establishment.  This meant Tim actually came to hate his own character.

 

Another one of the show's lasting images must be the kitten climbing on the Post Office Tower - like King Kong on the Empire State Building.  That originated from a sketch I wrote for Ronnie Barker in which he had an incredibly strong kitten on a lead which was pulling him everywhere.  He never used it, so we ended up doing it in The Goodies.  A lot of children watched the show, which was part of our success.  But we didn't start out intending to write and perform for children.  We did it for ourselves and our peer group.  We liked the kind of comedy in Buster Keaton and Tom And Jerry - a vicious cartoon type of humour.

 

Being popular with children became a rod for our own backs.  We were labelled as just a kids' show.  But there was always a satirical element to us and we were censored by the BBC more times than Monty Python.

 

We chose the name The Goodies because we wanted to sound like a rock group.  We liked The Monkees but wanted to do more comedy and less music.  W were also attracted by being some sort of avengers - being against the 'baddies'.

 

One day we had a call from Steven Spielberg.  He left a message saying he wanted to make a Goodies film.  We laughed it off, but it was true.  Spielberg had been making a comedy film, 1941, and wanted to do more.  But when 1941 was released it was a disaster and obviously Spielberg decided never to do any more comedy again."

 

*The Complete Goodies, by Robert Ross, is published by Batsford Books at £17.99.

 

 

BILL'S INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL PARKINSON

(contributed by Jon Hicks and Kay Dickinson. Jon's transcript of this interview also appears on his website: http://www.billoddie.net)

 

The following interview is taken from 'Michael Parkinson's Sunday Supplement' which was broadcast on Radio 2, Sunday 25th February 2001.

 

Michael Parkinson: Wherever I go in the world, particularly in Australia, whenever I turn the telly on there seems to be some sort of Goodies revival, it's quite extraordinary.

 

 Bill Oddie: It's bizarre, I mean it's particularly bizarre without sounding a little hurt - hurt? furious! cut to the quick! Last year for example there was whichever anniversary you wanted to choose really, because it was thirty years since the Goodies started, and twenty years since we finished, as it ran exactly through the seventies. I don't know I think all of us were a little bit sad - euphemism! - that the BBC did absolutely nothing about it, and I know that some producers wanted to, because I ended up being interviewed for several of these 'I Love the Seventies' type shows, there was one on comedy songs, and I know that some of these producers suggested something like a Goodies night or a few reruns. Now I'm not here to lay blame on anybody, but somebody, somebody said "not flippin' likely!".

 

MP: But you were never given a reason for it?

 

BO: No, no, well you can never find someone to get a reason from can you?! But the Australian side is extraordinary, because they had a convention and Tim went down - anything to get away from London! He just hates England in the winter, and he's quite right actually! Graeme and I who both couldn't go, did a live video link to this thing and by wonder of modern technology we actually got the pictures back of all these people dressed up like us with the Union Jack waistcoats, and flat caps and everything else, all talking with Australian accents. Since I am a great rugby fan, cricket fan and everything else fan, it's alright by me if the winners like us!

 

MP: Has there ever been any talk in the intervening twenty years of you ever getting back together again?

 

BO: Not really, I mean I personally don't think it's the right thing to do. People are always asking us, but I've always said it's like trying to put the 1966 winning world cup team back together again, because I think it is a young man's game, being that silly and being... well I was about to say that Spike Milligan disproves this theory by the way!... and being that physical, it would hurt! We literally hurt ourselves doing that slapstick type stuff! It was painful, and you only get a laugh it if it hurts you! It's true that, and I tested it once. We had to do this sketch on stage for years, written by Mike Palin and Terry Jones, where we demonstrated slapstick, and we had this guy with a plank on his shoulder where he turns round and whacks a guy on the head. This was this 'humour lecture' where we did it very po-faced, "and now the left sideswipe, "Oi Fred!" - whack! - boom!", and it was very funny. Well I was the fall guy who got hit on the head, and I was doing this for six months and getting serious headaches, and so one night (this is live theatre) I decided I would put a cap on and add some padding on the back, and it didn't get a laugh!

 

MP: Really? It didn't make the right noise?!

 

BO: No!, they wanted to hear the crunch of wood on flesh! The audience has to hear the pain!

 

MP: It is true that all these jokes about the banana skin are cruel, it's that that makes you laugh?

 

BO: It is that Tom and Jerry thing, because people used to ask us what the idea behind the Goodies was, and we said 'well it's kind of Buster Keaton meets Tom and Jerry', it was the visual side of it, we took a lot from Tom and Jerry, except we did it with real people, people were always getting rolled flat, wound up and blown up!

 

MP: Was that an ambition of yours from a very early age?

 

BO: No, no, it's weird actually because Tim and Graeme decided that I did, there always telling me what my life was! Somebody from Cambridge magazine interviewed me a few weeks ago, and he said "well apparently Tim and Graeme have said that you were the one who wanted to get into showbiz", I wouldn't have even known that it was possible! I went to university and quite a high powered school in Birmingham, because my dad told me, he was living vicariously through me, (adopts Lancashire accent) "giving me t'education that 'ee never 'ad"

 

MP: You were a bright boy weren't you, I mean you got a degree at Cambridge didn't you?

 

BO: I did, and I find it extremely hard to believe! I think I was facile, any education system that can give me a decent degree, there's something seriously wrong with them! I used to hate the academic side of college, and I didn't do that much work because I was doing English Literature and of course you can be facile as long as you sounded like you'd make up some wonderful theory about Dr Johnson or something, you didn't have to have read it! And I managed to do that, I spent all my time playing Rugby or doing Footlights stuff.

 

MP: Apart from the Goodies and all this other stuff, and as I mentioned before, you are this tireless campaigner for the RSPB, where did you start this interest in birds?

 

BO: It started a very, very long time ago, I mean some people assume you take these hobbies to get away from the rigors of showbusiness - ho, ho if only! - but no, it started when I was a kid and I think actually I needed some sort of obsessional hobby when I was a kid, I've been thinking a lot about this recently, because my home life was a bit strange, and a bit boring actually!

 

MP: Can we just explore this a minute, because you've said that you didn't have a 'normal' upbringing...

 

BO: No it wasn't normal, although some people have had a lot worse. Basically my mother wasn't there for me, and to this day I don't know what happened, she eventually was committed a mental home, and I don't know at what stage she left. I have no memory at all of my mother being at home so I was basically brought up by my dad and my granny, who was a rather powerful, tiny, little creature, who was one of those old women who said "well I'm the woman of the house now, and I'm going to run this place". I remember her swamping my dad and I used to find it rather sad, because he had no social life, he never invited anybody back to the house or anything like that because I think he felt my granny somehow dominated it. I never got the man to man talks for example, because granny would say "I'm not going to bed until you do!". I remember our only fun, and this is a little scurrilous, our only fun was that granny looked rather like a Rhesus Monkey, and she had her hair scraped back off her face so you got a look very like a monkey, and she had these false teeth that were too big, and that stuck out as well, so she looked just like a little monkey. She was also slightly flatulent, and she would fall asleep and dad and I would wink at each other and take bets as to how long it would take until her flatulence became so great it would blow her false teeth out! They would eventually end up in her lap like a pair of yakkety teeth, and it was about the only fun we got!

 

MP: It's no wonder you went into comedy!...

 

BO: Exactly! Although, sadly, I don't actually remember inviting kids back to the house myself, I think I always had to go out and go to other people's houses, and this hobby which developed specifically from the childhood thing of collecting bird's eggs, which all schoolboys back in the forties and fifties did, its just that I got more interested in the birds, and that's where that specifically came from.

 

MP: So when was it that that interest became a passion?

 

BO: At a very young age, I mean it was an obsession with me, I look back and think "what a sad little...", I mean I've got all these notebooks from when I was about fourteen, and I'd put an entry in everytime I went out. From school holidays I've got these written, saying "dawn, arrived at the reservoir at 5:30 in the morning.....went home at four o'clock in the afternoon..". I would cycle out there and spend day after day after day watching this dreadful reservoir with nothing there! I must have been running away from something, because it was this concrete reservoir on the edge of Birmingham, but it was my place, I was sort of the local expert on that. By the age of sort of fourteen - fifteen I was writing sort of learned papers for the West Midland Bird Club.

 

MP: Before we go back to that, just to finish off this thing about your mother, in later life, did you meet up with her?

 

BO: I did, and it's a very peculiar story, as she sort of reappeared in my life. I only have two or three memories of her in my life, and there very strange memories, they're like something out of a film, sort of trailers, you know. I remember going back to the house when we used to live in Rochdale, and finding all the crockery broken and splattered with blood. My dad wasn't there at the time, I think my mother had appeared, attacked him - she was clinically schizophrenic and pretty dangerous with it - and I've just got that weird memory. It's like Greek dancing with smashed white plates all over the place and "this isn't retsina, this is blood!". Then there were two others, one day I came back to the house and found mother in the bath, so I was told - 'oh hello I'm your mother, you've haven't seen me for a few years!'. Then she disappeared again a couple of days later, and at one stage I was taken to the mental home to see her, it was a real 'One flew over the Cuckoo's nest' job, and I think I was about fifteen, sixteen, to see whether she remembered me and she didn't. It had classic yellow corridors, you know a cameraman had been in there lighting that place, there were these beams of yellow light and people walking up and down claiming to be Napoleon. I remember going into this corner and drew the curtain back and this woman was sitting there, and they said "this is your mother", and she didn't know me from Adam at that point. The only thing I remember her saying, and if I ever write a autobiography this has to be the title, her words of wisdom were "Television? It's dead bodies and cardboard!". And with that, lets have a little bit more Louis Armstrong! (adopts an excellent Armstrong voice) "Dead bodies and cardboard!"

 

MP: Let's move on to your recent illness, what happened there?

 

BO: I had what you would call a clinical depression type thing in January. I lost January - not a bad month to lose though is it? If you've got to lose a month, January's a good one, I'm told! No, this thing hit me from right out of the blue, and you become, if you get something like that - which is horrible I assure you! - some people have a depression which goes on for years, and some get this real 'concentrated' experience, which is what I suddenly had, and literally in the middle of January, there was a period where I could hardly walk or talk, you know, reduced to just nothing, you don't want to get out of bed and you're saying 'oh I've screwed everything and I can't see any future'

MP: What triggers this? Is there a trigger to it?

 

 BO: erm, who knows really. I've read a lot of books as one does, if you have anything like this, boy do you start getting into it and bore everyone until you can't help telling them about it. But on the other hand you rapidly discover many people who have had something like that, or they've had partners or relations, and people have been very kind to me saying 'I had this' or 'somebody else had that and do you want to talk about it' and that helps you know. You realise that you're not alone and that you felt just as bad as they did - its perfectly possible to feel that there is no hope whatsoever - but take the pills, wait a bit and so on and so forth, and it will come back because it is physical, its a chemical imbalance type of thing. But it can have a trigger, there's no simple answer as to what that trigger can be, in my case I think it was a mixture of things, which were probably weighing on my mind for months, and then I had this bizarre thing where I, which was the actual trigger, was getting caught on one of those speed cameras on the motorway. I couldn't remember it at all - I shouldn't be telling people this should I?! - but it was one of those things where they say "Is this your car number? You were doing eighty-something on the motorway in a temporary fifty mile-an-hour area". Now I'd swear to God to the court as I did, that I had no idea that it was a fifty miles and hour area, you know what it's like on the motorways, one minute it's fifty and then they're not, it was a genuine mistake, but I just had this thing hovering over me. I got the letter the day before Christmas saying "you'll appear in court with a chance to argue why your license should not be confiscated" which it would be,although it was a first offence, which I though was rather harsh. But!, it obsessed me, I couldn't stop thinking about it, I was practicing my speech to the court every night in bed - (in a slightly over-dramatised self-mocking voice) "But M'Lord, don't you know I am a most careful driver, I've been driving for fifty one years....my programmes! I can't do my programmes without my car...", and I just couldn't stop it, and I think that acted as the specific trigger to actually 'blow my mind' as they used to say, and then suddenly I was OK, I got a fine and I got points, which is fair enough, but two days later I'd suddenly 'gone'. I was in the doctors crying and saying 'You've got to help me here, I'm breaking down'

 

MP: You're through it now are you?

 

BO: ...erm...that's for you to judge! (huge Oddie laugh).

 

MP: Until you told me today, I had no idea that you had been through all that...

 

BO: The thing I had to spend about a week in hospital, which most people do, it's just not fair to people at home because you're in such a terrible state, and it seems to help to be put somewhere where the phone isn't going to ring and be for you and that sort of thing. It's a long process though, I'm still get slight 'nervy' type feelings, in the mornings I feel a bit anxious and that kind of thing, but it takes a long time. It must be stressed for people who are suffering from it, and those around, that you're dealing with something that is as physical as having broken your leg or something like that. OK, it felt better after a couple of weeks, but you can't run on that leg for two or three months - footballers injuries sometimes take years.

 

MP: That's right, but what about work? Has it affected your work?

 

BO: Fortunately I've been in a situation where I haven't been filming every day, but I've been warned not to do too much. You know, pick and choose carefully, do something relaxing...like this! - "do something totally depressing like Parkinson, that'll send you back!" - I feel a relapse coming on! But no, it hasn't been to bad, it actually helps, you know, you could be silly, I had to cancel trips. Ironically, I was quite relieved in a way, because you feel the cold don't you as the years go by, and I was supposed to go to the Antarctic would you believe?

 

MP: To film?

 

BO: No, it was a trip to write an article and stuff like that, and I thought "I'm glad I'm not in the Antarctic!", I don't think I was in any fit condition to do that!

 

MP: But what about telly, I mean Bill Oddie goes Wild, and those programmes, have you got another series coming up?

 

BO: We don't know, Michael you know what it's like! - or do you?

 

MP: I could now be tapping into the real source of your depression! Whether the BBC commission's stuff!

 

BO: That was part of it, because although that series actually has done very well even though it was on one of those 'death spots' opposite Coronation Street, and apparently got one of the biggest shares for a BBC2 programme. Wonderful reaction, I thank anybody who's listening who sent me e-mail's and letters, because I've been in no condition to reply to them. That's another thing the BBC never does for you, I get millions of letters and they never reply, they just send them on don't they, and say 'that's your problem mate!'. So, its been a lovely reaction, and people would stop me in the street, and in January when I was at my worst I just couldn't take it in, "uh, thankyou, uh", but there's no commission for another series, it doesn't mean there won't be one, and we're hoping. I know that my producer will be extremely disappointed if after having gone so well that we don't do anymore. We don't get told, and then they'll say "Can we have it next week"! We say "no, it takes a bit longer to do 'Birds in Summer' or something you have to wait until the summer funnily enough!

 

MP: Well Bill thanks for talking to me and wish you well, and you look great and sound great, I had no idea that this had happened to you.

 

BO: Lets say if there is anyone else out there who is suffering, boy do I sympathise! You come through it - I have!

 




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