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11 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT THE GOODIES
(from C&G #122 January 2006)
From BBC Publicity Materials for the second half of December 2005:
The Goodies Christmas Special BBC TWO
It's official. After taking a 25-year sabbatical, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden are back on our screens once again to remind the nation just why they are considered comedy gold. As their leave of absence has been quite a considerable one, perhaps a refresher course in just who they are, what they were about and why they have left such a lasting legacy for the world of comedy is in order. So, here are...11 things you may not know about The Goodies.
1. Footlight frolics:
Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden met at Cambridge University. Tim - born in Buxton in 1940 - was reading economics and politics. Bill - born in Rochdale in 1941 - studied English. They both arrived in 1960 and joined the world famous Cambridge University Footlights Club. Tim became president at the time of the 1963 revue, A Clump Of Plinths, which moved to London as Cambridge Circus and then went on to tour New Zealand and America. Reading medicine, Graeme - born in Aberdeen in 1943 - was a year behind Tim and Bill; he did not appear in Cambridge Circus but became president after Tim for the 1964 revue. After Cambridge Circus made an appearance on BBC Radio, it evolved into the Radio sketch show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, which ran from 1964 to 1973 and regularly featured appearances and material written by Tim, Graeme and Bill.
2.And now for something completely different:
Tim, Bill and Graeme came from the same early Sixties "Oxbridge Mafia" that gave the world Monty Python's Flying Circus. John Cleese and Graham Chapman starred alongside Tim in the groundbreaking 1967 TV sketch series At Last The 1948 Show, while Tim and Graeme's Broaden Your Mind for BBC Two saw supporting appearances by Terry Jones and Michael Palin, and Eric Idle contributed material to I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, alongside Graeme.
3. First night:
The first episode of The Goodies was broadcast on BBC Two at 10pm on Sunday 8 November 1970 and saw the trio employed to discover who was stealing the beef from the Beefeaters at the Tower of London as part of a dastardly plot to remove the Crown Jewels. Subsequent famous adventures featured deadly black puddings wielded in the Lancastrian martial art of Ecky Thump, installing a puppet government with Sooty as the Prime Minister (which saw them pursued by a giant Dougal and Zebedee), causing an invasion of super-intelligent rabbits in the style of A Clockwork Orange, prospecting for clotted cream in the Wild West of Cornwall ... and breeding a giant kitten which demolished the Post Office Tower.
4. Peak time:
At its peak, repeats of The Goodies on BBC One attracted audiences of over 15m. On BBC Two, an episode could draw in over 12m.
5. 69 plus:
From 1970 to 1982, the trio made 70 episodes of their series, transferring from the BBC to London Weekend Television (part of the ITV network) in 1981 for their final season. And that wasn't including an additional six specials (including the legendary The Goodies And The Beanstalk for Christmas 1973), 13 mini-adventures for Engelbert With The Young Generation and a Yuletide guest spot on 1972's Christmas Night With The Stars, which was seen by almost 19m people.
6. Fatally funny:
The episode Kung Fu Kapers! in 1975 was so funny that a man died laughing from it; in the press, his widow thanked the trio for making his final minutes so happy.
The Goodies often had run-ins with the BBC over their choice of topics: an episode about The Royal Family had to be postponed because of a topical connotation, a script exposing the craze of punk rock had to be reworked into something extreme, and a 1975 show condemning the apartheid system in place in South Africa had to be partially re-recorded before the Corporation would allow it to be transmitted. After years of goading Mrs Mary Whitehouse - the founder of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association - the trio finally upset the self-appointed media watchdog with a shot of an iron-on carrot transfer on Tim's underpants. Many of the Goodies' more extreme jokes and images were censored by the ABC network when the show appeared in Australia.
8.And as themselves...:
Michael Aspel, Patrick Moore, Eddie Waring, Magnus Magnusson, Tony Blackburn, Michael Barratt, Sue Lawley, Terry Wogan, McDonald Hobley, Mary Malcolm, Raymond Baxter, David Dimbleby and Wayne Sleep all featured in the show as themselves. Often these guests came off quite badly: Michael Aspel was crushed by a giant kitten, Patrick Moore was attacked while dressed as a giant rabbit and Tony Blackburn was gunned down by a hunter after being released back into the wild.
9.Top of the pops:
The trio enjoyed five chart hits within the space of a year, starting with the glam rock The Inbetweenies in December 1974, the Northern Soul spoof Black Pudding Bertha in June 1975, the infant romance Nappy Love in September 1975 and the festive Make A Daft Noise For Christmas in December 1975. However, their greatest pop success was Funky Gibbon, which reached No. 4 in the charts in March 1975.
10. Global fans:
There is still a thriving fan base for The Goodies, most notably in Australia where the series was almost continually on air with one network or another since 1975. The internet home for devotees can be found at "The Goodies Rule OK" (www.goodiesruleok.com), the site for the fan club established in November 1995. A monthly newsletter, The Goodies Fan Club Clarion And Globe (named after the newspaper run by the Goodies in a 1975 episode), keeps 3,500 members across the world up to date with the trio's latest projects and news of fresh merchandise and appearances. In April 2000, over 300 fans attended the "Kitten Kon" event in Melbourne which was attended by Tim Brooke-Taylor and raised thousands of dollars for the Royal Melbourne Children's Hospital. The trio performed a sell-out tour of Australia in March/April 2005, and Tim and Graeme have just completed a further live show Down Under.
11. Famous fans:
Mike Myers (Austin Powers),Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, Martin Freeman (The Office) and Mark Gatiss (The League Of Gentlemen) have all indicated their enjoyment of this highly influential series. In 1979, the Goodies received a phone call from the offices of Steven Spielberg who had seen some episodes of their show and was interested in discussing a movie project with the trio. It was, sadly, never made.