Wednesday, August 26, 2009


From Wikipedia...

The Goodies are a trio of British comedians (Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie), who created, wrote, and starred in a surreal British television comedy series called The Goodies during the 1970s and early 1980s combining sketches and situation comedy.

The three actors in The Goodies met as students at the University of Cambridge, where Brooke-Taylor was studying law, Garden was studying medicine, and Oddie was studying English. It was as undergraduate students at the University that Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie met John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, who would later become founding members of Monty Python. This group of students became close friends and Brooke-Taylor and Cleese, who were both law students, but at different colleges within the university studied together, swapping lecture notes.They all became members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club, with Brooke-Taylor becoming president in 1963, and Garden succeeding him as president in 1964.

Garden was himself succeeded as the Footlights Club president in 1965 by Idle, who had initially become aware of the Footlights Club when he auditioned for a Pembroke College "smoker" for Brooke-Taylor and Oddie.

Career before The Goodies

Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie were cast members of the highly successful 1960s BBC radio comedy show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, which also featured Cleese, David Hatch and Jo Kendall, and lasted until 1973. I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again resulted from the successful 1963 Cambridge University Footlights Club revue A Clump of Plinths. After having its title changed to Cambridge Circus, the revue went on to play at West End in London, England, followed by a tour of New Zealand and Broadway in New York, United States of America (including an appearance on the top rated Ed Sullivan Show).

They also took part in various TV shows with other people, including Brooke-Taylor in At Last the 1948 Show (with Cleese, Chapman and Marty Feldman), and Brooke-Taylor taking part in Marty (with Marty Feldman, John Junkin and Roland MacLeod). Garden and Oddie took part in Twice a Fortnight (with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Jonathan Lynn), before Brooke-Taylor, Oddie and Garden worked on the late 1960s TV show Broaden Your Mind (of which only about ten minutes survives).

The Goodies television series

The Goodies was created by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The episodes for the series were originally co-written by all three Goodies (Tim, Graeme and Bill). Later, the episodes were co-written by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The music for the show was written by Bill Oddie, and The Goodies' theme music was co-written by Bill Oddie and Michael Gibbs. The show also benefited greatly from the input of director Bob Spiers.

The television series ran from November 1970 to February 1982 on BBC 2, with 70 episodes, mostly thirty minutes in length except for two forty-five minute Christmas specials (The Goodies and the Beanstalk and The Goodies Rule – O.K.?). The costume designer for this episode was BBC costume designer Dee Robson.

It was one of the first shows in the UK to use chroma key and one of the first to use stop-motion techniques in a live action format. Other effects include hand editing for repeated movement, mainly used to make animals "talk" or "sing", and play speed effects as used in the episode "Kitten Kong".

The threesome travelled around on, and frequently fell off, a three-seater bicycle called the trandem. One of these trandems was later cycled across Africa, a trip immortalised in the resultant book Three Men on a Bike.

Although The Goodies are well known for performing spectacular but comedic stunts, it was Tim Brooke-Taylor who performed most of them.

The Goodies never had a formal contract with the BBC, and when the BBC Light Entertainment budget for 1980 was exhausted by the production of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series, they signed a contract with London Weekend Television for ITV. However, after one half-hour Christmas special ("Snow White 2") in 1981, and a six-part series in early 1982, the series was cancelled. In recent interviews the cast suggest the reasons were mainly economic — a typical Goodies sketch was more expensive than it appeared.

It may be argued that The Goodies' antics brought the surrealist adventure traditions of The Goon Show to the television screen without diverting into areas of coarseness or topical satire to the same extent as other British television series like Till Death Us Do Part, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Not Only But Also, Not the Nine O'Clock News or, much later, The Young Ones. There were satirical episodes of The Goodies including: "South Africa" (apartheid) — "Punky Business" (punk) — and "Gender Education" (satirising Mary Whitehouse's influence on television).

The Goodies appealed to adults on an intellectual level, and also had a level of appeal to children as a consequence of its visual humour and slapstick. Although there are similarities to the television series The Monkees, with the group members employing music, slapstick comedy, bad puns and camera tricks; and all living in the same house together and working together — a tradition also borne out of the films of The Beatles — The Goodies owes nothing to either. Instead, the comedy of The Goodies originated with the Cambridge University Footlights Club's revues.

Fatal effect

On 24 March 1975 Alex Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from King's Lynn literally died laughing while watching an episode of The Goodies. According to his wife, who was a witness, Mitchell was unable to stop laughing whilst watching a sketch in the episode "Kung Fu Kapers" in which Tim Brooke-Taylor, dressed as a kilted Scotsman, used a set of bagpipes to defend himself from a black pudding-wielding Bill Oddie (master of the ancient Lancastrian martial art "Ecky-Thump") in a demonstration of the Scottish martial art of "Hoots-Toot-ochaye." After twenty-five minutes of continuous laughter Mitchell finally slumped on the settee and died from heart failure. His widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell's final moments so pleasant.

1 comment:

John said...

Required viewing!
I should advise our American readers that Ecky Thump is an expression associated with the north of England, and is essentailly an expression of disbelief.
Is it really? Ecky thump!
A southerner might respond with
Bloody hell.
(Sorry if this offends any sensitivities).