|Genre||Sketch comedy, surreal humour|
|Media||Television, theatre, audio recordings|
|Years active||1970-1982; 2005-2006|
|Notable works||The Goodies (1970-1982) |
The Goodies - stage shows (2005-2006)
|Other works (starring all three Goodies)||I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again (1964-1973) (25th anniversary special 1989) |
Broaden Your Mind (1968-1969)
|Fan club website||The Official Goodies Rule - OK!|
The Goodies were a trio of British comedians: Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, and Bill Oddie. The trio created, wrote for and performed in their eponymous television comedy show from 1970 until 1982, combining sketches and situation comedy.
The three actors met each other as undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, where Brooke-Taylor was studying law, Garden was studying medicine, and Oddie was studying English. Their contemporaries included Graham Chapman, John Cleese, and Eric Idle, who later became members of Monty Python, and with whom they became close friends. Brooke-Taylor and Cleese studied together and swapped lecture notes as they were both law students, but at different colleges within the university. All three Goodies became members of the Cambridge University Footlights Club, with Brooke-Taylor becoming president in 1963, and Garden succeeding him as president in 1964.
Garden himself was succeeded as Footlights Club president in 1965 by Idle, who had initially become aware of the Footlights when he auditioned for a Pembroke College "smoker" for Brooke-Taylor and Oddie.
Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie were cast members of the 1960s BBC radio comedy show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, which also featured John Cleese, David Hatch and Jo Kendall, and lasted until 1973. I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again resulted from the 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, US (including an appearance on the 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). Brooke-Taylor also took part in Marty (with Marty Feldman, John Junkin and Roland MacLeod). In 1968 Brooke-Taylor appeared with Cleese, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman in How to Irritate People. Garden and Oddie took part in Twice a Fortnight (with Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Jonathan Lynn), before Brooke-Taylor, Garden, and Oddie worked on the late 1960s TV show Broaden Your Mind (of which only about ten minutes survives).
The original BBC television series ran from November 1970 to February 1980 on BBC 2, with 67 half-hour episodes, and two forty-five-minute Christmas specials. The series was created by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, and originally co-written by all three, with Oddie providing the music for the show. Later episodes were co-written by Garden and Oddie.
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". In the series, the threesome travelled around on, and frequently fell off, a three-seater bicycle called the trandem.
In September 1978, the trio appeared in character in an episode of the BBC1 television game show Star Turn Challenge, presented by Bernard Cribbins, in which teams of celebrities competed in acting games. Their opponents were three members of the cast of The Liver Birds, Nerys Hughes, Elizabeth Estensen and Michael Angelis. They also presented the Christmas 1976 edition of Disney Time from the toy department of Selfridges store in London, broadcast on BBC1 on Boxing Day at 5.50 pm.
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, the Goodies signed a contract with London Weekend Television (LWT) 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 later interviews the cast suggest the reasons were mainly economic, and that a typical Goodies sketch was more expensive than it appeared.
A special episode, which was based on the original 1971 Goodies' "Kitten Kong" episode, was called "Kitten Kong: Montreux '72 Edition", and was first broadcast in 1972. The Goodies won the Silver Rose in 1972 for this special episode at the Festival Rose d'Or, held in Montreux, Switzerland. In the first episode of the next series, "The New Office", Tim Brooke-Taylor can be seen painting the trophy gold.
The Goodies also won the Silver Rose in 1975 at the Festival Rose d'Or for their episode "The Movies".
Unlike many long-running BBC comedy series, The Goodies has not enjoyed extensive repeats on terrestrial television in the UK. In 1986 BBC2 broadcast the episode "Kitten Kong" during a week of programmes screened under the banner "TV-50", when the BBC celebrated 50 years of broadcasting. In the late 1980s, the pan-European satellite-channel Super Channel broadcast a couple of episodes and the short-lived Comedy Channel broadcast some of the later Goodies episodes in the early 1990s. Later UK Gold screened many of the earlier episodes, often with commercial timing cuts. The same episodes subsequently aired on UK Arena, also cut. When UK Arena became UK Drama, later UKTV Drama, The Goodies was dropped along with its other comedy and documentary shows.
The cast finally took matters into their own hands and arranged with Network Video for the release of a digitally-remastered 'best of' selection entitled The Goodies ... At Last on VHS and Region 0 DVD in April 2003. A second volume, The Goodies ... At Last a Second Helping was released on Region 2 in February 2005. Series 9 (including the Xmas special) was released on Region 2 as The Goodies - The Complete LWT Series on 26 March 2007 and a fourth volume The Goodies ... At Last Back for More, Again was released on region 2 in 2010 as well as a DVD box set containing all four volumes to celebrate 40 years of The Goodies.
In 2004, an episode of the BBC documentary series Comedy Connections was devoted to the Goodies. During Christmas that year, Channel 5 repeated the classic 1973 episode "The Goodies and the Beanstalk". Christmas 2005 saw a 90-minute Goodies special, a documentary about the series, Return of the Goodies, broadcast on BBC Two.
In December 2010 BBC Two showed selected late night repeats of the BBC series, which ran nightly from 23-30 December. This apparent gesture followed years of campaigning by The Goodies that the shows had not been repeated like other BBC shows such as Dad's Army, Only Fools and Horses and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. The episodes shown were: "Bunfight at the O.K. Tea Rooms" / "Earthanasia" / "The Goodies and the Beanstalk" / "Kitten Kong" / "Lighthouse Keeping Loonies" / "Saturday Night Grease" / "The Baddies" (a.k.a. "Double Trouble") and "The Stone Age", although "Scoutrageous", "Kung Fu Kapers" and "Scotland" (a.k.a. "Loch Ness Monster") were originally billed as episodes 1, 2 and 7 of the repeat run. The episodes garnered good ratings given their time slot, and the first six episodes were taken from the BBC's own master tapes, rather than the digital remasters, the rights to which are currently owned by Network Video, "The Baddies" and "The Stone Age" have never been digitally remastered.
On Sunday 8 June 2014, during 70s weekend, BBC Two repeated the Montreux '72 Edition of "Kitten Kong" once again, however this has been the only episode to be repeated twice, and no full series have been repeated since.
In September 2018, Network released a box set titled The Goodies: The Complete BBC Collection. This set contains every single episode from 1970-1980 (excepting the lost, original version of "Kitten Kong") and, as a bonus feature, a one-hour edit of the show "An Audience with the Goodies," hosted by Stewart Lee and filmed live at Leicester Square in June 2018.
In Australia, the series has had continued popularity. It was especially popular when it was repeated through the 1970s and 1980s by the ABC. As the show was typically broadcast in the 25-minute 6:00 pm children's timeslot, portions often had to be cut. The 1981-82 LWT series was played once on the Seven Network in the early 1980s. The ABC screened the BBC episodes again in the early 1990s, but skipped several stories due to either political correctness, or a lack of colour prints at the time. The BBC episodes were then heavily edited to allow time for commercials when repeated on Network Ten in the 1990s, before moving to the pay television channel UK.TV during the late 1990s and early 2000s, where they were screened in full. ABC2 ran re-runs of the series, beginning in 2010.
Three of the Goodies DVDs are available in Australia under different titles to the UK releases: The Goodies: 8 Delicious Episodes, The Goodies: A Tasty Second Helping and The Goodies: The Final Episodes, respectively. The Goodies' DVDs are also available in a boxed set with a commemorative booklet (The Goodies: The Tasty Box). This collection contains the same 16 episodes as the original two DVD releases but with additional material such as commentaries on several episodes and the original scripts of some episodes in PDF format. Picture quality has been greatly improved using digital restoration techniques and the episode "Come Dancing", which was originally thought to only have survived as a black and white film recording, is presented in colour from a 625 line low-band broadcast standard PAL VT recording, made for training purposes, which has had the low level colour boosted. (The original Australian DVD release, The Goodies - A Tasty Second Helping (2 disc set), and The Goodies - A Second Helping: 4 tasty serves (1 Disc), featured the b/w telerecording of this episode.)
In Canada, the series was shown in on the CBC national broadcast network during the late 1970s and early 1980s, in the traditional "after school" time slot, later a Friday night 10 pm slot, and occasionally in a midnight slot. Several episodes were also shown on the CTV Television Network. In the mid-1970s it was shown on TVOntario on Saturday evenings, repeated on Thursday evenings, until being replaced by Doctor Who in 1976.
In Germany in 1972, German TV screened the 13 part variety show Engelbert and the Young Generation a co-production between the BBC and German station ZDF in which The Goodies appeared in short 3 to 4-minute film sequences. The first six films were culled from the first and second series of The Goodies, "Pets" (from "Kitten Kong"), "Pop Festival" (from "The Music Lovers"), "Keep Fit" (from "Commonwealth Games"), "Post Office" (from "Radio Goodies"), "Sleepwalking" (from "Snooze") and "Factory Farm" (from "Fresh Farm Foods") and seven new film sequences, "Good Deed Day", "The Gym", "The Country Code", "Street Entertainers", "Plum Pudding", "Bodyguards" and "Pan's Grannies", these also featured intro sequences with host Engelbert Humperdinck visiting the Goodies at their office. The shows were dubbed into German and because the Goodies part of the shows were more visual than dialogue based, it translated very well.
Five of these new films were also cut together, with a new story involving The Goodies filling out their "Tax Evasion" form, as a special 25-minute Goodies compilation episode, "A Collection of Goodies" was first broadcast on BBC1 at 8.15 pm on 24 September 1972, and was produced by Jim Franklin, "The Country Code" and "Bodyguards" were not used.
In Spain, a couple of episodes of The Goodies were shown as part of a season of television-award-winning programmes (the Goodies were Montreux Festival winners) on TVE 2 entitled Festival TV in 1981.
In the US, the series was shown widely in syndication during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but has been little seen since. It was shown also on PBS stations, sometimes in tandem with Monty Python's Flying Circus.
In their heyday The Goodies also produced successful books:
The first true Goodies album, The Goodies Sing Songs From The Goodies was released in 1973 and reissued as The World of the Goodies in 1974. "The Goodies Theme" was released as a single in 1973.
They had a string of successful chart singles penned by Bill Oddie. In 1974-75, they chalked up five hit singles in twelve months: "The Inbetweenies", "Black Pudding Bertha", "Nappy Love" and "The Funky Gibbon" (all performed during the episode "The Goodies - Almost Live"), and "Make a Daft Noise for Christmas".
"The Funky Gibbon" was their biggest hit, reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart. The Goodies made an appearance on Top of the Pops with the song. They also performed it during the Amnesty International show A Poke in the Eye (with a Sharp Stick). "The Funky Gibbon" became a favourite in the United States on Dr. Demento's radio shows and reached number 79 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975.
Three variations of the Goodies Theme were used on the opening titles for the 1970-1982 television series. Apart from the original Goodies Theme, used from 1970-1972 and released as a single, two other variations surfaced, one, with a contemporary feel from 1973-1974, sung by Bill and then the third and final theme for the rest of the series from 1975 onwards, again sung by Bill. This variation lasted for the rest of the TV series and also surfaced on later Goodies LPs and eventually singles.
Tim Brooke-Taylor was a writer/performer on the television comedy series At Last the 1948 Show (which also included John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman in the cast), in which Eric Idle and Bill Oddie guest starred in some of the episodes. The famous "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch was co-written by the four writers/performers of the series - Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman.
Tim Brooke-Taylor was a cast member of the television comedy series Marty with Marty Feldman and John Junkin - a compilation of the two series of Marty has been released on a DVD with the title of It's Marty.
Brooke-Taylor was also a cast member of John Cleese's special How to Irritate People.
Along with John Junkin and Barry Cryer, Brooke-Taylor was a regular cast member of the long-running Radio 2 comedy sketch show Hello, Cheeky!, which ran from 1973 to 1979. The series also transferred to Yorkshire Television for two series in 1975 and 1976.
Tim Brooke-Taylor also appeared on BBC's hospital comedy TLC, as well as the sitcoms You Must Be The Husband (with Diane Keen and Sheila Steafel), and Me and My Girl (with Richard O'Sullivan and Joan Sanderson). He also played in a televised pro-celebrity golf match opposite Bruce Forsyth.
Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden were writers/performers on the television comedy series Broaden Your Mind, with Bill Oddie joining them for the second series.
The three writers and performers also collaborated on the 1983 animated children's programme Bananaman, where they played various voice roles.
Bill Oddie has occasionally appeared on the BBC Radio 4 panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, on which Garden and Brooke-Taylor are regular panellists.
Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie worked on the television comedy Doctor in the House: they co-wrote most of the first series and all of the second. Garden also appeared as a television interviewer in the series, in the episode titled "On the Box".
Garden was a regular team captain on the political satire game show If I Ruled the World. Brooke-Taylor appeared as a guest in one episode, and during the game "I Couldn't Disagree More" he proposed that it was high time The Goodies episodes were repeated. Garden was obliged by the rules of the game to refute this statement, and replied "I couldn't disagree more...it was time to repeat them ten, fifteen years ago." This was followed by uproarious applause from the studio audience.
In 2004, Garden and Brooke-Taylor were co-presenters of Channel 4's daytime game show Beat the Nation, in which they indulged in usual game show "banter", but took the quiz itself seriously. Oddie hosts a very successful series of nature programmes for the BBC.
The trio reunited in Australia for The Goodies (Still A) Live on Stage as part of Sydney's Big Laugh Comedy Festival in March 2005. The show toured the country, visiting Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra and selling out most of the 13 performances.
A further Australian tour by the Goodies, sans Bill, took place during November and December 2005.
Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden took their Goodies Live show to the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe festival. The show was similar to the second leg of the Goodies Australian tour, with Bill Oddie participating via video (due to his many filming commitments). The show was also performed at the Paramount Comedy Festival in Brighton in October 2006.
Brooke-Taylor and Garden performed the show at 22 further UK venues in 2007.
Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden appeared at Sydney's Riverside Theatre (Parramatta) on 15 October 2009 and the World's Funniest Island comedy festival on Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour on 17-18 October 2009. The show was hosted by Andrew Hansen of Australian comedy team The Chaser.
The Goodies were once again reunited when the BBC1 show, entitled "The One Show", brought them back. It concluded with Tim riding a tandem alone while the others stared / watched. Show air date was 4 November 2010.
Bill Oddie toured Australia, to present a series of one-man shows, An Oldie but a Goodie, during June 2013. The Australian tour took in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. A video with the three Goodies was shown during the shows.
The final time that The Goodies collaborated on a commercially available project was a single, hour-long audiobook created for Audible UK, entitled The Big Ben Theory. Scripted by Gareth Gwynn and John-Luke Roberts, along with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, and recorded in front of a highly-appreciative live audience, the cast comprised Tim, Bill, (an indisposed Graeme was replaced at the last minute by the project's originator and producer, Barnaby Eaton-Jones), Joanna Lumley, Philip Pope, Jon Culshaw, and Kate Harbour, with direction from Dirk Maggs. Graeme Garden's own description reads 'As Parliament falls apart and sinister dictators threaten the world, Tim, Graeme and Bill must save the day. They defeated Kitten Kong! They stuffed the Funky Gibbon! They invented Ecky Thump! Can they save Parliament as well? 52% say yes. 48% say no. But you just can't rely on statistics, can you?!' The audiobook, released by Audible on 9th October 2019, was intended to be the pilot for a forthcoming series of new episodes to be written and recorded in 2020; however, the project ended with Tim Brooke-Taylor's death from complications from COVID-19 on April 12th that year.
The official Goodies fan club's (Goodies Rule-OK!) newsletter, is called the Clarion & Globe. It was named after the newspaper in The Goodies' episode "Fleet Street Goodies" (a.k.a. "Cunning Stunts").
During the 1970s, Cor!! comic, released by Fleetway publications, had a Goodies comics strip. When the comic later merged with Buster, the Goodies did not move across, although the TV show was still running.
Australian theatre company Shaolin Punk produced a short play titled "A Record or an OBE", written by Melbourne comedian and actor Ben McKenzie, and featuring Tim and Graeme as characters. Set in 1975, the two remaining Goodies struggle to carry on after Bill leaves the group to pursue a music career. The play premiered in the 2007 Melbourne Fringe Festival, where it was highly commended in the Comedy category. Later seasons were also performed for the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2008.
U.S. rock band The White Stripes named their 6th album Icky Thump in reference to The Goodies sketch "The Battle of Ecky Thump". The name was changed from "Ecky Thump" to "Icky Thump" to make the title more palatable to an American teenage audience.
All three Goodies were awarded OBEs. Bill Oddie received his OBE in 2003 for wildlife conservation, while Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden received their OBEs in 2011 for services to light entertainment. The show often mocked OBEs, in particular a running joke was that Tim desperately wanted to receive one.
All three Goodies have been regular attendees at Slapstick Festival in Bristol, and in 2011 they were awarded the Aardman Slapstick Visual Comedy Legend Award at the festival for the significant contributions to the field of visual comedy they've made over their lifetime.
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.
On 1 November 1977, Seema Bakewell, a 32-year-old housewife from Leicester, went into labour whilst laughing at a sketch in The Goodies episode "Alternative Roots". She refused to leave home for the hospital until the episode had finished. Thirty years later, she visited the 2007 UK reunion tour with "her baby, Ayesha, and the baby's husband" and recounted the story to Graeme Garden.