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Goody, Goody, Yum, Yum! By Keith Topping

The Goodies: Series 1 & 2

 

The characters were: Brooke-Taylor, the patriotic, arrogant and cowardly Tim, Garden, the epitome of the over-the-top SF 'Mad Scientist' Graeme, and Oddie, the scruffy, cynical, occasionally violent Bill (a subtle role model for The Young Ones) who, despite his mania would often be the one to inject a note of horrid sanity into the proceedings. Although many of the aesthetic elements that are well remembered today did not arrive in the series until later in the decade (Bill is not bearded in the first season, Tim has yet to acquire his union-jack waistcoat and Graeme his large-framed glasses), their first pad (there would be two later versions) was firmly rooted in the 70s especially Graeme's computer (a couple of cardboard boxes with spools of tape on them), and Bill's Chairman Mao poster, which remained, along with Tim's throne and portrait of the Queen, unchanged throughout the decade.

Radio Times announced before the first episode that 'The Goodies - as opposed to the Baddies - are a firm of three who lay themselves open to some very strange commissions.' Tim, Bill and Graeme (as they announced in their theme song) would do 'anything, anyplace, anytime'. In their first adventure, the trio are hired by the Royal Family, via their representative (George Baker) to protect the crown jewels. Needless to say, they fail miserably, though the palace are impressed by the fact that they've 'done their best'. This began a fascination with ridiculing royalty that was to last for most of the groups career.

 

 

 

 

There are some great visual gags in the episode, though the most important scene is the opening one as the trio establish themselves to the audience arriving at their new office and set themselves up in business.

 

Tim:

We are The Goodies

Graeme/Bill:

We know that!

Tim:

And we are, err, going to, err, do 'good' to people.

Bill:

How wet!

Certain elements became rapidly familiar; ridiculously speeded up action sequences, with slapstick violence and Garden's brilliant talent for mimicry. Oddie's musical ability (previously a key element in I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again), which, with the help of musical arrangers Michael Gibbs (and later Dave McRae) became vital to The Goodies sense of focus with chase sequences often accompanied by Oddie's low-key songs such as Come Back or Dumb Animals. This would also became a source of much outside income, as a string of singles released in the mid-70s sold extremely well. It would, remember, be another 15 years before Monty Python achieved a novelty hit. And while The Goodies weren't The Monkees by any stretch of the imagination, the sight of Bill, Tim and Graeme on Top Of The Pops doing The In-Betweenies or Wild Thing does have a certain nostalgic kitsch about it.

One plot device regularly used in the first season had Bill achieving 'total awareness' with the use of 'mind-expanding lemonsherbert'! This was later dropped, as Wilmut notes, 'because it was becoming too obvious a device', although Oddie would have preferred to keep the idea ('I think if we were an American series that would have been very much kept'). The team parodied ITV adverts cleverly (Tim's frequent appearances as the brattish, incompetent Baked Beans kid) while the season closer, Pirate Radio Goodies, was a wonderful surreal tale of the the trio's attempts to start a radio station whilst possessing only one record (A Walk in the Black Forest). Later Graeme 'flips' and becomes an eye-rolling Nazi, almost drowning as he 'goes down with his ship'.

"Anything, Anyplace, Anytime"

Tim:

Leave him Bill, that's not our friend out there... he would've wanted it this way.

Bill:

No he bloody wouldn't!

Interestingly this episode is one of the few in the series to have been written by all three. Brooke-Taylor was closely involved with the setting up of the series but was often unable to be involved in the actual writing of episodes because of his other work (chiefly in radio comedy). Some episodes carry the credit 'written by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie (with Tim Brooke-Taylor's biro)'. Brooke-Taylor described the writing process thus;

'Bill and Graeme tend to write very fast... also, they tend to divide the show up into two halves and write half each. One half is completely different from the other.'

The second season, in 1971, featured the boys tracking the Loch Ness Monster, cleaning up Britain's environment, saving the country's national art treasures, bouncing around the world for charity, meeting 'The Baddies', evil android replica's of themselves and, most famously, battling Twinkle, a giant white kitten, who destroys London in a brilliant send-up of King Kong. The season featured guest appearances by Stanley Baxter, Bernard Bresslaw, Roy Kinnear, June Whitfield, Patrick Troughton and Michael Aspel (whose contribution ended when the kitten stood on him). Kitten Kong was so successful that the episode was re- filmed, with additional kitty material a few months later as Britain's entry for the Montreaux Light Entertainment festival where it won the Silver Rose. (Tim can be seen in the first episode of the following season painting the trophy gold).

Wilmut states that '

Much of the credit of the effectiveness of 'Kitten Kong' and other Goodies film sequences must go to Jim Franklin, who directed the filming for the first two series; thereafter he also did the studio direction, taking over from Producer John Howard Davies. With his previous experience as a comedy film editor, he was the ideal choice.'

Although there was no new season in 1972, the team were active, appearing in a regular series of sketches on, of all thing, Engleburt with the Younger Generation. Their short inserts formed a counterpoint to the banality of the surrounding show. Additionally, at Christmas 1972, The Goodies appeared on that bastion of BBC1 respectability, Christmas Night With the Stars alongside Mike Yarwood, Dad's Army and The Two Ronnies.

'Ideally, The Goodies will be great in 70 years time' said Tim Brooke-Taylor at the time, 'basically, we are trying to produce the greatest half-hour of comedy anyone has ever seen, each week.'

Certainly, Oddie and Garden's manic scripts, which were described by Halliwell's TV Encyclopedia as

 

'anarchic, farcical comedy; each episode starting at least as a spoof on some aspect of life, but degenerating into a hopefully hilarious mess of sight gags, one-liners and elaborate visual trickery'

loaned themselves very well to the excesses of the era. In many ways The Goodies are as much a part of the 70s as flared trousers, Hai-karate aftershave, star jumpers, Derby County and progressive rock. Their three-seater bicycle (in reality, a modified tandem) became one of televisions most easily recognisable icons.

© 1996 Keith Topping      Visit his website From the North...