» Top 10 Comedy Records
by Catherine Sumnall.
(from C&G #53 May 2000)
Skillfully preceding London's return to the Livingstone era, Channel 4's "Top Ten Comedy Records" show easily proved that bygone years have possessed some successes. The top ten ran as follows:
10. Harry Enfield
9. It Ain't Half Hot Mum
8. Rolf Harris (??? presumably meaning the records were a joke)
7. The Young Ones
6. South Park
5. Ray Stevens
4. The Goodies
3. Benny Hill (most notably "Ernie - the fastest milkman in the west")
2. Monty Python
1. The Goons (not only allowing me to include ying tang iddle I po in two successive issues of C&G, but also featuring the priceless clips of Prince Charles doing Bluebottle!)
The Goodies section was an inexhaustible pool of pleasure - but of course I would say that. The scenes that have been allowed to fester in the archives for too long (not least of which was the Cambridge Footlights' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show), endowed us with a segment of almost equally mixed cringes and laughter, as the inimitable three provided viewers with a long awaited memorial to the sheer poetry of "Black Pudding Bertha" and the poignant, totally serious cover of "Wild Thing".
Expert analysis on the flow of notes was provided by Tim, Graeme and Bill, alongside author, Mornington Crescent meister, and eventual ruler of the universe (when the Goodies Guide is released come 23rd May - a snip at any price!!!) Robert Ross. If this blatant conflict of interest doesn't make Private Eye, I doubt I ever will!
But valiantly back to the point. Graeme summed up beautifully, whimpering: "Bill always wanted to be a pop star, Tim is fearless and will just go for it, but me, I just felt such a fool."
And many thanks to Rich Bradley who transcribed the interviews:
Smarmy Tony Blackburn: "I don't know if you ever watch BBC2 television at 9:00 as I do, fabulous TV show called The Goodies, very funny..."
(clip from The Goodies of Tony being released into the wild and shot)
(Opening titles - The Goodies series 5)
Tim Brooke Taylor: "After the 1st series, the most depressing thing of all was we got a telegram from Mary Whitehouse saying she liked us. Later in the run we got a telegram objecting to us - I thought 'Yes! We've made it!'
"The Goodies were way ahead. A talent hothouse, The Cambridge Footlights."
(clip of Cambridge Footlights sketch from The Ed Sullivan Show, 1964)
"A source of very good talent indeed..."
(Black Pudding Bertha clip)
"...and Bill was a songwriter, apart from being a comedian, he was a very credible musician and songwriter."
Rick Wakemen (Musician and Comedy Archivist): "Bill was certainly a bit more than your average comedian, he was a bit more than your average musician as well - all the musos that worked with him (I met a couple) respected him very highly."
"Bill was a rock star, because he had so many hit records - in 1975 he was the 5th most successful songwriter in the country."
(Clip of The Inbetweenies)
Graeme Garden: "Bill always wanted to be a pop star, Tim is fearless and will just go for it - but me, I felt such a fool."
(Clip of The Funky Gibbon [love those denim dungaree flares guys])
Phil Jupitus (English comedian): "Funky Gibbon was an original piece about...a funky gibbon (dissolves into laughter)."
"Rick Wakeman: "Funky Gibbon isn't funny - it's got 1/2 a decent melody and in a strange way you can still dance to it."
BO: "I wouldn't make any great claims for Funky Gibbon being a major work! (laughs)"
TB-T: "I saw Billy Bragg [English political singer/songwriter] singing Funky Gibbon the other day, which was a bit of a shock! (Clip of Billy Bragg singing Funky Gibbon on the totally fantastic Harry Hill TV Show) I think it was 'ironic'."
(Clip from The Goodies And The Beanstalk - John Cleese shouting "Kid's programme!")
GG: "In the playground, which one did you play?"
"I used to be Bill Oddie, my mate Tony Lester used to be Graeme Garden, and Phillip Nice would be Tim Brooke-Taylor 'cos he was posh. And we'd be The Goodies around the playground while everyone else was going 'This parrot is dead!' and we were imagining 400-foot kittens."
(Clip of Twinkle wreaking havoc)
Caption: "WARNING! What you are about to see may damage your health"
GG: "In one of our shows a chap who was know for his huge belly laugh was enjoying it so much that he died laughing."
BO: "Tim came out doing Scottish martial art Och Aye The Noo with a pair of bagpipes (Clip from Kung Fu Capers of TBT in action) and hitting people - wasn't subtle - but apparently it killed him."
TB-T: "Nobody ever did that to Monty Python! Pshaw - bitter or what?"
Stuart Hall: "After 9 years and 70 episodes of The Goodies, the BBC turned Baddies on them. The spurned trio grasped a respectfully large ITV cheque with all 6 hands."
Lew Grade (Former Head of Entertainment, LWT): "I managed to snatch them away from the BBC with, I think, limited success - I think they'd probably peaked by the time we got them."
"LWT found it was a very expensive series to do, so they pulled it."
BO: "So it was a bit of a bad ending really - shame."
GG: "It's never been shown again on terrestrial broadcast."
Stuart Hall: "Since then Bill Oddie has returned to the BBC and flown to cloud cuckoo land; ("Birding with Bill Oddie" clip) and Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden appear on the Radio 4 quiz "I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue".
(Clip of The Goodies as Pan's Grannies) The Goodies may funk no more - it's probably just as well."
TB-T: "Whatever anybody says I think it was enormous fun - I think it's most schoolboy's daydreams - to score a goal for England and to be on Top Of The Pops, and I haven't scored a goal for England - yet."