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(from C&G #44 August 1999)
This month's feature article was sent in by Jonathan Sloman. It is the (auto?)biographies of the Goodies circa 1974 from "The Goodies Annual".
THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD
A SCOTTISH GARDEN
Graeme Garden was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on February 18th 1943, when the stars were well placed in his favour, that is to say, overhead. This made him an Aquarian, something which has never bothered him unduly, since he has no idea what it means.
He had a typical Scottish upbringing wearing tartan nappies, learning to dance the Highland Fling to the skirl and wail of the haggis, eating roast bagpipes for lunch on Sundays and paddling with his playmate in Loch Ness.
In 1947 the Garden family decided to move house and home to Preston, in Lancashire. It was no easy feat; have you ever tried to pack a house into a packing case? But they made it and Graeme, after he found out their new address, followed them.
He was educated at Repton school, which he left in 1961, not feeling much different. Education wasn't such a painful experience, after all. While at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was studying medicine, he joined the Footlights Society and met up with Tim and Bill. He was never to recover.
He also met and performed with other sillies such as John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, who went on to become famous (and/or notorious) as the cast of "Monty Python's Flying Circus".
One year of that was enough for anyone, so Graeme left to continue his studies at King's College Hospital in London, during which time he started writing and performing for "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again", on BBC radio, followed by the TV series "Twice a Fortnight", which also involved Bill.
1968 was a notable year in which Graeme got married, won the Nobel Prize* and appeared in another TV series called "Broaden Your Mind", this time with Tim. He also wrote lots of scripts for the "Doctor In The House", "Doctor At Large" and "Doctor In Charge" series on TV.
In 1970, the year when Brazil won the World Cup in Mexico, when the Conservative party won the general election and when there was a dock strike, there was another momentous happening: "The Goodies" were born. The first successful series was followed by others, one a year in fact, making the show a 'hardy perennial' according to Graeme Garden (Greenfingers to his friends).
Graeme can at present be found somewhere in North London, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Sally. He lists his hobbies as painting, drawing, reading, fishing, reading about fishing, playing the guitar and banjo, apologising for playing the guitar and banjo, trying not to travel in cars and of course, being a Goodie.
(*Editor's note: no, he didn't.)
BILL THE BIRDMAN
Despite his youthful appearance, Bill Oddie was born on July 7th many years ago in Rochdale, Lancashire. He was a very small baby and still is.*
Until the age of seven he went to school in Rochdale, but he found this inconvenient when he moved to Birmingham, so he changed schools. A couple of years later he became a certified swot by passing the entrance exam to King Edward's Birmingham.
It was there that he began his show business career: first, writing naughty songs to be sung in the back of rugger coaches and second, singing the same naughty songs in the school revue. At Cambridge, where he read English Literature, he sang them yet again.
With Tim and Graeme, plus assorted members of "Monty Python's Flying Circus", he wrote and performed in the 1963 revue "Cambridge Circus", which ran - and sometimes crawled - for nine months in London, before it swam off for a successful tour of New Zealand and America.
By this time Bill had decided to concentrate on writing silly scripts and being silly himself and he found he was very good at it. So good, in fact, that he wrote and sometimes appeared in "That Was The Week That Was", "Twice a Fortnight", "Broaden Your Mind", "I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue", "Doctor In The House" and many other TV and radio programmes.
But "The Goodies" are his favourite pastime and Bill is the one who writes all the songs for the programme. He is confidently looking forward to becoming the oldest teenage pop-idol on the scene! There is, however, no rumour that he is Jimmy Osmond in a false beard and tonsils! In fact, he looks on music as more of a hobby than a job... a good thing too! No one would actually PAY him for singing like that, surely?
He is also an avid record collector and has the biggest collection of avids on record.
He spends hours making tapes, playing various instruments; guitar, piano, saxophone, organ, flute, drums, and mouth organ - and he can't play any of them properly!
He often goes out kicking people - on the football field. Despite his tiny size he has always had a sporting bent and in fact he gets more bent each time he plays. Most Saturdays he's down at Stamford Bridge, cheering on Chelsea and most Sundays he tries to play for the "Top Ten Eleven". Looking at him now it is hard to believe he was Rugby Captain at school and was even chosen to play Cricket for Warwickshire schools; actually he didn't, 'cos it rained...
Bill's most time-consuming hobby is ornithology and he spends many weeks each year on remote islands watching, ringing and photographing birds.
Bill is married with two children, Kate and Bonnie and what with that family, all those hobbies and "The Goodies", he's very tired. He's also very silly, in the nicest possible way.
(*Editor's note: No, he isn't.)
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE...
Tim Brooke-Taylor was born very suddenly in Buxton on July 17th 1940, among those dark, satanic hills of Derbyshire. His mother was once a lacrosse international and his illustrious ancestors include a vicar named Pawson, who used to play centre-forward for the England football team of the 1890s.
This sporting background probably explains Tim's passionate love of watching football, especially the nimble-booted players of Derby County; but it does not explain why he is so bad at playing the game himself. Perhaps if he didn't insist of playing with a rugby ball he'd get a little further. And he's always said goalposts should be at least thirty yards apart...
He was educated at Buxton, then at Winchester College. We have no reports of Tim's schooldays - his teachers seem strangely reluctant to talk about him - but we do know that he eventually reached Pembroke College, Cambridge. Much to his surprise and everyone else's for that matter, he passed his economics and law degree there, three years later.
However, much more important than mere scholastics, it was at Cambridge that Tim met up with Graeme and Bill and started writing and doing shows with them. He had taken his first tentative steps towards becoming silly and was never to look back.
In 1963 the revue "Cambridge Circus", which Tim helped to write, went to the West End, so Tim went with it, to keep it company. It also toured New Zealand and went on to New York, accompanied by Tim. While in America, he even appeared on the famed "Ed Sullivan Show"!
1963 saw him safely back in England, where he began to write scripts in between editing a Spike Milligan TV series. He also started to write and appear in the radio show "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again", which is now approaching its hundredth edition. Tim is confidently expecting to receive a greetings telegram from the Queen on that auspicious occasion.*
The next year he wrote and starred in "At Last The 1948 Show" with Graham Chapman and John Cleese (now of "Monty Python's Flying Circus") and Marty Feldman. This was followed by "Broaden Your Mind", written with Graeme Garden. "The Goodies" were assembling fast.
When Bill Oddie loomed on the scene, there was only one thing for them to do: form "The Goodies". Where else could all three of them be silly together?
Tim is married and has two sons, Ben and Edward. He likes films, especially those featuring Buster Keaton; roast lamb, especially with onion sauce; and travelling, especially with skiing. Oh and he wouldn't really mind being an international film star. He thinks he could put up with that...
(*Editor's note: He won't get one.)