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(contributed by Lisa Manekofsky)
(from C&G #108 November 2004)
The following article originally appeared in the "Diana For Girls" 1975 Annual.
"Goody Goody School Days"
According to Bill Oddie half the success of The Goodies is that they've never grouns up and adopted the "adult attitude" his school reports were always asking for. So, what were they like when they really were schoolboys?
Bill, himself, moved from Lancashire to Birmingham when he was seven, passed the eleven-plus when he was only nine years old. "It's sickening when you think of it," he grinned, "I was a sort of child prodigy. I went to the local grammar school when I was about a year-and-a-half younger than everybody else – pretty intimidating." His progress didn't stop there. "There was this posh school, King Edward's, that's a sort of day public school. I took an extra entrance exam and swopped over when I was thirteen."
Bill's thoughts were mostly taken up with sports through his early years, not only playing the games but running some of the teams as well. "I must've been really obnoxious and pushy. The masters certainly thought so. I thought I was a model schoolboy but I was always getting into trouble for being aggressive and insolent." Even so, Bill never actually played truant, for a very good reason. "It was fairly free, we didn't exactly run the place but we did have a lot of meetings, produce a newspaper, and occasionally put on a show with sketches, sometimes being a bit cheeky about the staff – but nobody got upset about it!"
Both the other Goodies were at boarding public school. "Really very posh," according to Bill.
Graeme Garden went to Repton, in the middle of Derbyshire, and said, "It was pretty tough. When you were a little boy there you had to get up at seven sometimes and wake everybody else up by ringing a bell. If you were a minute late you did an extra day's duty – it could go on for ever." "It's good for you to get away from home but I ended up with very few close friends there and felt a bit cut off in the holidays."
Graeme's main "social event" was the ballroom dancing classes. "It was supposed to be the only respectable way to meet girls. It was terrifying, with these enormous ladies in big hairstyles who clutched you and led you through incredibly complicated quicksteps."
During those years Graeme concentrated his schoolwork mostly on the sciences. He'd already decided he wanted to take up medicine as a career and did, in fact, qualify as a doctor before going full time into show business.
Like Bill, Graeme never played truant, but for a very different reason. "As the school was in the heart of the country there wasn't a lot you could do if you did get out except hide in a ditch – which isn't very enjoyable."
Now on to Tim Brooke-Taylor's school days at Winchester, on of the country's most famous public schools. "The first few years weren't a terribly happy experience," he said. "Until I went there at thirteen I'd hardly been south of Burton-on-Trent – my home's in Buxton, Derbyshire – so I felt very strange."
"It was tough physically. There were no proper baths, just tin tubs, and beside our beds were bowls of water for washing. In the winter you had literally to break the ice on it. Toughness was definitely the thing."
"I adapted fairly well I think, I used to make a joke of something if it was really difficult, but I loved playing games, which was a great help. I was quite good at every game but not very good at any of them – a sort of Jack-of-all-trades, master of none."
Tim's best subjects were English and History, and his worst was the one the school thought most important – Latin. "By their standards I was very bad, and moved up the school very slowly because of it." "One thing I didn't like was being positively discouraged from the hobbies I was interested in – archaeology and acting – which held me back a lot later."
"We didn't have a school uniform, just a sports jacket and grey trousers, but we did have to wear straw hats. That seemed terrible at first but you get used to it very quickly."
One of Tim's main problems came when he was home during the holidays. "I've always hated snobbery but, though I knew I wasn't a snob, if you go to a public school and have a double-barrelled name people think you are and you stand no chance. When I was about sixteen I used to work in the Post Office over Christmas and if people asked I just said I was sent away to school – they all thought I was at Borstal!"
Tim had a spell of teaching after he left Winchester. "It was very useful, the fact that I was only eighteen. I could remember what it'd been like for me. At twelve, maths was the most frightening thing in the world. I had a system, I'd start off doing a problem on the board by saying, 'See if you can spot the deliberate mistake.' They all knew I wasn't intending to make one but I might very well make one by accident and then they could catch me out. As a result they concentrated like mad and learnt a lot easier."
So remember, that's what you see when you watch The Goodies – a teacher, a doctor, and a "brilliant child," all leaping about like crazy!