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The Goodies

Graeme Garden interviewed on
17/01/2012 10:49 GMT

Posted by jeffers

A new interview with Graeme appears on the Best British TV website, written by Kieran Kinsella.

"Like most people born in the 1970s, I was a huge fan of the Goodies as a kid. My personal favorite was Graeme Garden who I regarded as “the sensible Goodie.” As I grew up, I began to realize that The Goodies was just one highlight in a distinguished career during which the Scotsman established himself as one of Britain’s top comedy performers. While he is a well known entertainer, many people do not realize that Graeme Garden is also a qualified physician. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Graeme and I began by asking him how he made the transition from medical school graduate to TV funny man.

“I appeared in a couple of plays at school, but didn’t start writing and performing until I was a student at Cambridge. I joined the Footlights Club, and after I’d left the university to study at King’s College Hospital, Humphrey Barclay the producer asked me to write for and appear in a radio show (I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again). I jumped at the chance, so by the time I’d finished my medical studies I’d been working on radio for a couple of years. When TV producer Tony Palmer then asked me to work on a TV series (Twice a Fortnight) I put my medical career on hold and jumped again. It’s been on hold ever since.”

Over the years you have collaborated with Bill Oddie on many different projects. How did the the two of you first meet?

“We met at Cambridge, through the Footlights Club. We also had contact when he was drawing cartoons for a student magazine (Ffobia) of which I was Art Editor at the time.”

You are probably best known for your work on The Goodies. What is your favorite memory from working on that show?

“It was always a pleasure to see the big props turned into reality from the written description – the mobile railway station, the cream machine in bunfight, the dodo flying a plane etc etc. The special and visual effects folk did some wonderful work. And of course it was always fun in the studio when the audience laughter came.”

When you started work on The Goodies did you have any idea that it would become a cult classic? and why do you think it proved to be so successful?

“I’m not sure we had cult classics in those days! We certainly didn’t think about the long-term future for the shows. I think it got big audiences because it appealed to a wide age-range in the family. Of course it stopped being successful in the UK after about 1982 when it disappeared from the screens.”

Bananaman is something of a classic for the generation X crowd. What was it like working on that show?

“We didn’t write the scripts but it was fun getting together with the chaps and doing lots of silly voices. Nice to think it has its own little cult following now.”

Away from TV, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue is one of BBC radio’s longest lasting and most popular shows. As a panelist do you ever worry that your mind will go blank when the chairman calls on you?

“Well we try to go in with a bit of preparation to prevent us drying up completely. But I always think half the fun of the show is when the audience see something that doesn’t quite work, or when someone is caught wrong-footed. The trick then is to turn that into a laugh!”

What projects are you currently working on?

“We’re doing a charity performance of our stage version of ISIHAC at the Oxford New Theatre on March 5th and recording the radio series again in May/June. Later in the year we’ll make another series of The Unbelievable Truth for Radio 4 – the latest series is going out at the moment.

We are also working on a TV version of The Unbelievable Truth in Australia, with the Chaser chaps for Channel 7. I’ll be going to Oz in February to help script edit and appear in the show. Meanwhile I’ll be in Bristol Jan 26-29 for the Slapstick Festival, where I’ll be showing the work of Charley Chase, and having an onstage chat about Buster Keaton with legendary film historian Kevin Brownlow. (

Then after short holiday I’ll be at the Laugharne Literary Festival (April 13-15) with Barry Cryer and I’ll also be at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival (April 21) . Meanwhile Jon Naismith and I continue to work on developing new shows at Random Entertainment. So watch this space!”

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