» Tim Q&A Interview C...
THE TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR INTERVIEW
(from C&G #25 December 1997)
More answers to your questions from the man in the Union Jack waistcoat.
DO YOU STILL KEEP IN TOUCH WITH BILL, GRAEME AND YOUR 'I'M SORRY I'LL READ THAT AGAIN' AND UNIVERSITY PALS JO KENDALL AND JOHN "OTTO" CLEESE?
Graeme I see regularly as we both appear on the BBC radio panel game 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'. Bill asked me and my wife for a meal next week, but sadly I will have started my panto. Whenever the three of us meet up it's almost as if we were still doing the Goodies.
John Otto I see every now and then, but not nearly as much as I used to. Jo Kendall I haven't seen for years. David Hatch I see quite often and I'm a godfather to one of his sons.
WERE YOU HAPPY PLAYING THE GOLDEN TICKET COMPUTER GUY IN 'WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY'? OR WOULD YOU HAVE RATHER BEEN AN OOMPA LOOMPA?
Doesn't everyone want to be an Oompa Loompa? The scene you refer to was the very last one shot in the film. All the technicians clearly hated the director and couldn't wait to get away. They had their packed suitcases by their feet. We filmed it at the headquarters of Nestle. I was told to only touch one button behind me. "BUT DON'T TOUCH THE OTHERS" they screamed or you will wipe out all of Nestle's files worldwide. I later did a play with the girl who played Miss Veruca in the film, Julie Dawn Cole, and she was excellent.
HOW DID YOUR INPUT INTO THE GOODIES CHANGE AFTER THE CREDITS CHANGED FROM "GRAEME GARDEN AND BILL ODDIE WITH TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR" TO JUST "GRAEME GARDEN AND BILL ODDIE"?
I wrote less, as I was writing and performing in other shows. And, modesty apart, they are quicker and better writers than me.
But the three of us would work out vague story lines and areas for each show with potential scenes and 'jokes', then Bill and Graeme wrote a half each. I would then come in as referee and add or subtract. In fact be a real nuisance.
IN THE GOODIES YOU PLAY VERY MUCH A ROYALIST, CONSERVATIVE "LITTLE ENGLANDER". WHAT, IF ANYTHING IS YOUR POLITICS?
I've always tried to avoid this question because I think the performer should keep his personal views to himself. But, since you ask, I have never voted Conservative and couldn't wait to vote for our present Labour party who do seem to represent my views. We were all left of centre. I would say our views were pretty clear in the programmes, not in the characters, but in what we made fun of. The greatest problems was when one of us had to play the Baddie (this happened most weeks) and some not very bright people would think that was the view of the character AND the actor. Having said that I like being British.
IN 'FROM FRINGE THE FLYING CIRCUS' A GOODIES MOVIE IS MENTIONED, WHICH APPARENTLY SHOWED THE GOODIES MEETING FOR THE FIRST TIME. THIS MOVIE WAS NEVER MADE, WHY WAS THIS? AND CAN YOU REMEMBER ANY MORE ABOUT THE PLOT ETC.?
This was really a bribe from our publishers who commissioned us to write a Goodies film if we would do another Goodies book. We did write a script but that is all that happened. I'm afraid I can't remember much about it - it was THAT good.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEAS FOR THE GOODIES BOOKS?
A spin off company did a Christmas book for us. It was so awful we decided to do the next one ourselves. It was a hell of a lot of hard work but I'm proud of them. The 'Making of the Goodies Disaster Movie' book didn't quite work as readers would dip in and out whereas we intended the reader to follow it through chronologically, assembling in-jokes as they went along.
WAS 'THE MAKING OF THE GOODIES DISASTER MOVIE' IN ANY WAY BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCES TRYING TO GET A GOODIES FILM MADE?
I can't honestly say yes, much though I'd like to. So, no.
ROUGHLY, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO MAKE A SINGLE GOODIES EPISODE FROM CONCEPTION TO COMPLETION?
Difficult. Three weeks? We would meet to discuss ideas over say 3 or 4 days. Then all six (assuming a series of six) would be written. Then rewritten. Then into production. We would usually film the exterior shots for the series over 3 or 4 weeks. Before the filming we would sit round a table for three or four days with all the technical people, having broken down scenes into a story board. (See below re visual effects). Then we would work on a weekly basis. Start rehearsals on a Monday and record in front of an audience on the Friday. Our best series in 1975 would be recorded on a Friday and transmitted the following Monday.
WHEN GRAEME, BILL AND YOURSELF SAT DOWN TO WRITE EPISODES, DID YOU HAVE A CLEAR IDEA OF HOW THE VARIOUS VISUAL EFFECTS COULD BE REALISED? IF SO, DID YOU WRITE EFFECTS DETAILS INTO SCRIPTS OR WAS THIS SORT OF THING LEFT TO THE VISUAL EFFECTS DESIGNER?
We took pride in working out how an effect could be achieved and would either write it in or talk it through with the production team. Quite often Graeme, or Bill, would draw the effect. Equally the visual effects department took pride in improving our suggestions. The visual effects department were very much the unsung heroes of the BBC. They had to be artistic and practical and work with every other department
DID YOU REALLY ENJOY BEING A GOODIE AS MUCH AS YOU LOOK LIKE YOU DID?
Yes and no. The filming, usually was hell. The weather was invariably bad and we were always short of time having to re shape all the time. But it was exciting, and rewarding in the fact that we had control over everything. What am I saying, of course we enjoyed it.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE(S) AND LEAST FAVOURITE(S) OF THE SONGS WHICH YOU
RECORDED WITH THE GOODIES?
Faves: Wild Thing, Cricklewood, Cactus In My Y Fronts. Least fave: Custard Pie.
RECENTLY CANADIAN COMEDIAN MIKE MYERS LISTED THE GOODIES AS ONE OF HIS CHILDHOOD INFLUENCES. SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR SUCH MOVIES AS 'SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER', 'WAYNE'S WORLD' AND 'AUSTIN POWERS - INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY'?
I saw 'Wayne's World' and thoroughly enjoyed it. Literally the next day I read that Mike Myers had cited us. So I was pleased. I recently saw 'Austin Powers' which I also enjoyed, especially the exaggerated fashions and his Mr Nasty character. I haven't seen or even heard of 'So I Married An Axe Murderer'. Put it this way, if he asked me to appear in one of his films I would leap at it.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES ON 'YOU MUST BE THE HUSBAND?' THIS WAS IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, ONE OF THE FUNNIEST SITCOMS I'VE EVER SEEN FROM THE UK AND YOU HAD A GREAT ON-SCREEN RELATIONSHIP WITH SHEILA STEAFEL.
I loved the first series of 'You Must Be The Husband'. It was beautifully written by Colin Bostock-Smith. Actually it was Diane Keen, who played my wife, I think it was the best on screen relationship. The second series was ruined by an interfering producer who kept steering the writer in the wrong direction. Colin later wrote a stage play with the basic premise which I did with the wonderful Brigit Forsyth (Thelma in 'The Likely Lads'). It was a terrific play which we toured the UK with and then took it to the Far and Middle East where it was also successful. What I liked about the whole thing was that both the husband and wife were bright, witty, nice people (not prats) whose marriage was constantly under threat from outside influences. It was also sometimes quite moving. But it was a sitcom and it did have a sofa. Something that seems to be unfashionable I'm told. It doesn't seem to hold Frasier back though.
HAVE YOU EVER MET ANY OF THE ROYAL FAMILY AND IF SO, WHAT DID THEY THINK ABOUT YOU 'MARRYING' PRINCE CHARLES AND CONSTANTLY REQUESTING AN O.B.E.? AND DO YOU STILL WANT AN O.B.E.?
Prince Charles volunteered to play himself in the marriage scene. Unfortunately palace advisers got to him. I met him a few times in the seventies and he was quoted as liking Monty Python but putting the Goodies as his favourite. Consequently I've always liked him. He even put a suggestion to me that we could make a private film for the Royal family. One of his suggestions was people coming out of the palace, after being knighted, covered in bandages and plasters.
GINGER SPICE FROM THE SPICE GIRLS IS REALLY INTO WEARING CLOTHES WITH THE UNION JACK ALL OVER THEM. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THIS OBVIOUS PLAGIARISM?
About 1% of the royalties would shut me up.
YOU'VE DONE LOTS OF "FROCKING UP" IN VARIOUS COMEDY SHOWS, DO YOU STILL POP ON THE ODD FROCK FOR OLD TIMES SAKE OR HAS AGE AND FATHERHOOD CURBED YOUR EXUBERANCE?
You're right and I seem to be made to do the more difficult female singing roles on 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' eg. Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights'. But that's just audibly frocking up. I have to say I liked playing female parts but hated the actual clothes. My sympathies go out to women who have to wear formal clothes.
THE TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR INTERVIEW
(from C&G #26 Januuary 1998)
Where is the Union Jack waistcoat? Why were The Goodies fixated by gibbons? And what's Tim's fave website? Read on, in this, the final instalment of Tim's answers to your questions:
THE GOODIES WON THE SILVER ROSE AWARD FOR THE EPISODES 'KITTEN KONG' AND 'MOVIES' AT THE MONTREUX LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT FESTIVAL. WERE THESE PRIZES AWARDED FOR THE CATEGORY OF "BEST COMEDY PROGRAMME" OR "BEST WRITING OF A COMEDY PROGRAMME" OR FOR SOME OTHER CATEGORY?
The Festival is a "Light Entertainment" event and the Roses are for best Light Entertainment. It was usual for the producer to accept the prize on behalf of everyone on the production.
WHY WAS THERE A FIXATION WITH GIBBONS (STUFF THAT GIBBON, THE FUNKY GIBBON, SAUCY GIBBON) WHICH STARTED IN 'I'M SORRY I'LL READ THAT AGAIN' AND CONTINUED THROUGH TO 'THE GOODIES'?
It was just that - a fixation. It probably started with the ferret song.
IN THE EARLY 70s THE GOODIES WAS OFTEN COMPARED, NEGATIVELY, TO MONTY PYTHON, WITH THE GENERAL VIEW BEING THAT WHEREAS PYTHON WAS CLEVER, THE GOODIES WAS CHILDISH. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THIS? AND DO YOU AGREE WITH BILL ODDIE'S COMMENT THAT "IN COMPARISON WITH MONTY PYTHON THEIR HIGHS WERE HIGHER THAN OURS AND THEIR LOWS WERE LOWER THAN OURS. I THINK WE WERE MORE CONSISTENT".
Python was great but appealed to more of a minority. It was the show you desperately didn't want your parents to like. There are many analogies with pop groups. Although I think "Life of Brian" is one of the greatest things ever, I now find Python curiously dated.
Strangely I've just been shown a copy of the current Radio Times which partially answers your question. The article is on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue by Roland White. He writes:
'As a teenager back in the seventies it was fashionable to sneer at the Goodies in much the same way as modern 13 year olds probably sneer at the Spice Girls. It was clear why 9 year olds thought them so amusing, but thirteen year olds required something more sophisticated.
"The Goodies are so jejune", we would say, peering into our tuck boxes. "Precisely. Their high jinks compare very unfavourably with, for example, the anarchic splendour of the Monty Python team".
'So it has been rather embarrassing to discover that a programme featuring Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden is right up there among my fave radio shows. If 'Smash Hits' ever issues a poster of Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden, I will probably stick it to my bedroom wall.'
It goes on to say nice things about I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'.
It's the old story of youngsters only understanding the visual humour. Frank Muir, who sadly died this week and is sorely missed, made the point many years ago. "The Goodies are not childish but rather childlike".
ROGER WILMUT, IN HIS BOOK 'FROM FRINGE TO FLYING CIRCUS', WROTE OF LONGEST GOODIES EPISODE EVER PRODUCED, 'GOODIES RULE - OK?': "THE PROGRAMME…BRISTLES WITH INVENTION - PERHAPS TOO MUCH SO FOR ITS OWN GOOD, BECAUSE FORTY-EIGHT MINUTES OF IT IS A BIT REMORSELESS". WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO HIS COMMENTS AND DO YOU THINK IT WAS A SUCCESSFUL EPISODE?
Three years ago I would have agreed with him. But a couple of years ago I was invited to a festival in Derby where they showed some Goodies shows, including the aforementioned Goodies Rule, and I was pleasantly surprised both by my and the audience's reaction. It's still not one of my favourite shows, though I'm fond of some of the visual images.
DEFEND 'THE FUNKY GIBBON'!
Oh alright then. Bill assembled a terrific group of musicians for the music track and they are class. At the time there were lots of disco numbers that were wonderful musically but were dire in the lyrics department. When we were away filming we would quite often go out for a 'bop' and it was then we realised there was no humour in any of the songs. Gibbons had been a fetish with us even in the early days of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, so The Funky Gibbon. When I write a potted biography of myself, for example for programme notes, I usually say "And who can forget the Funky Gibbon? - Well we can try."
WAS IT FUN TO PERFORM SOME OF THE GOODIES SONGS LIVE IN 'A POKE IN THE EYE (WITH A SHARP STICK)'?
That was one of the worst days of my life. My football team (Derby County) lost in the semi final of the cup in Sheffield ( a long way from London). I then had to travel all the way back to London with a hoarse voice from cheering on, to no effect, my team. We sang three songs and wanted Sick Man Blues to go on the album as we'd already had the Funky Gibbon as a hit. The only good thing was that the show was raising money for Amnesty International.
BILL ODDIE SAID RECENTLY THAT HE WISHED THE GOODIES HAD TOURED IN A LIVE SHOW. DO YOU REGRET NOT EVER DOING A GOODIES LIVE SHOW?
The problem was what sort of show. Bill would have wanted more music than Graeme and myself. Also there was no circuit for comedy then. Monty Python toured under a pop management and as we hated the pop world (not the groups, the agents and managers etc.) we had no one to plan a tour. Today it would be very different and so, yes, I do regret it. Perhaps it's still possible!
THERE HAS BEEN CRITICISM OF THE FINAL SERIES OF THE GOODIES, MADE AT LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION, COMPARED TO THE FINAL SERIES MADE AT THE BBC. WERE YOU HAPPY WITH THE FINAL SERIES OF THE GOODIES, MADE AT LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION?
I don't think there was any dropping off of quality especially when compared with the last series at the BBC. We were directed in this series, ironically, by the man who has just directed the Spice Girls' movie, Bob Spiers.
DID YOU EVER FLOG...I MEAN SOUVENIR ANY PROPS FROM THE GOODIES? IF SO WHAT?
I've still, I think, I haven't checked the attic recently, got the large Ecky Thump hats and a shocked looking me in a golden frame which came out of an 'instant' camera. Also (see below)…
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO YOUR UNION JACK WAISTCOAT?
I have it and wear it occasionally if asked to.
WERE THERE SOME SUBJECTS THAT YOU WISHED THE GOODIES HAD COVERED, BUT YOU NEVER GOT AROUND TO?
There are so many things that have happened and changed since we did the shows that, of course, there are things that I would have liked to have covered. The greedy eighties would have been perfect for us. And can you imagine what Graeme's computer would have to be like now. England and Europe we never really explored. The Internet would also be fun. AND the Murdoch empire.
WAS IT FUN TO DO ALL THE DIFFERENT VOICES FOR BANANAMAN?
Yes, terrific fun. We are all fans of cartoons anyway and this, although for kids, had a nice touch of irony as well.
DID YOU ENJOY DOING THE 'I'M SORRY I'LL READ THAT AGAIN 25TH ANNIVERSARY
SHOW IN 1989?
Very much. There was a lovely sense of fun with us and the audience, many of whom had grown up with us. One is now a judge.
HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TO CONTINUE WITH 'I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE' AFTER WILLIE RUSHTON DIED?
Yes. Apart from the fact he was a friend and that I admired him enormously, every time we do a new 'I'm Sorry' I have to start all over again with the new guest. This is probably a good thing as it shakes me out of any lethargy. But I'd rather be lethargic WITH Willy. Having said that I have had some smashing partners who were funny and sensitive to the situation. Paul Merton who did the first one got everything spot on.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE NEW WAVE OF "ALTERNATIVE" COMEDIANS, SUCH AS RIK MAYALL, ADRIAN EDMONDSON, FRENCH AND SAUNDERS AND BEN ELTON, AS THEY WERE REDEFINING BRITISH COMEDY IN THE EARLY EIGHTIES?
To be honest I don't think they were redefining comedy. I liked them and admired them. Ben Elton I can't take as a performer, but I think he's a wonderful writer. I think there should always be new waves. The shame is when the old waves are sometimes dropped by the media. We've been lucky, so this isn't a whinge.
DO YOU WATCH MUCH CURRENT TV COMEDY AND IF SO, WHO AND WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Yes I do and I hate answering this question partly because my pluses are the same as everyone else. First and foremost for me at the moment is 'The Simpsons'. Unfortunately in the UK they are treated like a kid's programme and put on at an early time (a bit like the Goodies in Australia). I love Frasier. Alan Partridge. Have I Got News for You? I never got on with Absolutely Fabulous which I thought was a good sketch idea. But I very much like what French and Saunders do. Comic Strip I thought was a wonderful series.
YOU'VE BEEN ON THE INTERNET NOW FOR A FEW MONTHS, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IT? AND DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WEBSITE?
I love it and particularly use sites for Derby County. For years now I have been starved of team news as the papers here are very regional and give little information of the teams in the North. And, of course, it's worth it alone for C&G.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MAKING PRODUCTIONS WHICH ARE BOUND TO BE SEEN ALL OVER THE WORLD?
It is only after making the programme that you think about this. If you start to wonder what the rest of the World will think then you end up with a programme that offends nobody and doesn't entertain anyone. The real answer is that I feel good.
IS THERE ANY CHANCE OR YOURSELF OR BILL OR GRAEME WRITING AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY?
I'm not contemplating it as there are too many people alive that I wouldn't want to hurt, and it wouldn't be interesting enough without the downsides. I can't answer for the other two, but am slightly nervous at the thought. Of them writing one. Please don't put the idea into their heads.