Sunday, 18 March 2012

Goodies! Goodie, Goodie, Yum, Yum! Remembering The Goodies (1970 - 1982)

What can you say about the Goodies? Other than they were fuckin' brilliant! So join me as I pay homage to one of the greatest, legendary, classic shows of the 1970s.
The Goodies was a British television comedy series of the 1970s and early 1980s.
The series, which combined surreal sketches and situation comedy, was broadcast on BBC2 from 1970 until 1980 — and was then broadcast by the ITV company London Weekend Television for a year, between 1981 to 1982. The show was co-written by and starred Tim Brooke - Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie (together known as "The Goodies"). Bill Oddie also wrote the music and songs for the series — while "The Goodies Theme" was co-written by Bill Oddie and Michael Gibbs. The directors/producers of the series were John Howard Davies, Jim Franklin and Bob Spiers.
An early title which was considered for the series was Narrow Your Mind (following on from Broaden Your Mind) and prior to that the working title was Super Chaps Three.

The series' basic structure revolved around the trio, always short of money, offering themselves for hire — with the tagline "We Do Anything, Anywhere, Anytime" — to perform all sorts of ridiculous but generally benevolent tasks. Under this loose pretext, the show explored all sorts of off-the-wall scenarios for comedic potential. Many episodes parodied current events, such as an episode where the entire black population of South Africa emigrates to Great Britain to escape apartheid. As this means that the white South Africans no longer have anyone to exploit and oppress, they introduce a new system called "apart-height", where short people (Bill and a number of Jockeys) are discriminated against.
Other story lines were more abstractly philosophical, such as an episode in which the trio spend Christmas Eve together waiting for the Earth to be blown up by prior arrangement of the world's governments. The "Christmas Eve" episode titled "Earthanasia" was one of the two episodes which took place entirely in one room. The other, "The End", occurred when Graeme accidentally had their office encased in an enormous block of Concrete. These episodes were made when the entire location budget for the season had been spent, forcing the trio to come up with a script shot entirely on the set that relied entirely on character interaction - episodes known in the industry as bottle episodes.

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 d'or held in Montreux, Switzerland. The Goodies also won the Silver Rose in 1975 at the Festival Rose d'Or for their episode "The Movies".
The show featured extensive use of slapstick, often performed using sped-up photography and clever, though low-budget, visual effects, such as when they built a railway station together, and awoke the next morning to discover that the construction equipment outside (steam shovel,bulldozer, backhoe) had come to life, and were lumbering, growling, and battling like dinosaurs.
Other episodes featured parodies of contemporary pop music composed by Oddie, some of which went on to substantial commercial success in the British charts, among them the hit single "Funky Gibbon" as well as character-based comedy. Some early episodes were interrupted by spoofs of contemporary tv commercials.
The Goodies opening Waikato
The group also acknowledges their debt to the usage of music in silent movies. In "The Movies" episode, they buy an old movie studio, and attempt to make their own epic film, MacBeth Meets Truffaut The Wonder Dog. After several 'takes', they argue and each begins to make his own movie in a different style. The episode finished with an extended silent movie segment, in which each movie comically interferes with the others.
The characters are based on the personae of the three characters: Garden, a bright but bizarre "mad scientist"; Brooke-Taylor as a conservative, vain, sexually-repressed, upper-class royalist; and Oddie as a scruffy, occasionally violent, left-leaning rebel from Lancashire. The group have suggested that the characters of Graeme, Tim, and Bill represent the Liberal, Conservative and Labour wings of British politics or Middle-Class, Upper-Class, and Working-Class stereotypes respectively. The characters played up to their stereotypes, but were not necessarily based on the actor playing the character, even though the actors played characters with their own names, and had some minor characteristics in common. In reality, Garden is a medical doctor, Brooke-Taylor is a lawyer who is not at all conservative ("But I had the double-barrelled name so I was always going to play the Tory") and Oddie is a pacifist, Ornithologist and active Environmentalist.

The Goodies was a consistently very popular show in the UK, although, because it seemed to appeal particularly to younger viewers, some critics dismissed it as juvenile in comparison to the other contemporary UK "alternative" comedy hit, Monty Python's Flying Circus. In fact, whilst this comparison irritated them, Oddie, Garden and Brooke-Taylor were old university friends of the Monty Python cast, and had worked with them in the past, so there was considerable mutual respect between the rival shows. This led to several gentle parodies of Monty Python appearing on The Goodies.
Goodies episodes, in which Monty Python's Flying Circus was either parodied or alluded to, included the following:
  • "The Goodies and the Beanstalk" — At the end of this episode, John Cleese portrays a geenie in the guise of a Monty Python character and uses the Python catchphrase "And now for something completely different". When spotted and told to "Push off!" by Tim, he shouts dismissively: "Kids' programme!" before vanishing.
  • "Invasion of the Moon Creatures" — the opening credits of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" can be seen when Graeme switches on the television. Graeme immediately switches off the television in disgust because he has missed what he wanted to see (Moira Anderson).
  • "Fleet Street Goodies" — in which the Liberty Bell March (the theme for "Monty Python's Flying Circus") can be heard.
  • "Scatty Safari" — in which four Gumbies are featured.
  • "The Goodies RuleOK?" — in which two Gumbies are seen on Skid Row.
  • "U Friend or UFO?" — Bill plays the Python theme on the trombone with the aliens.
"Kitten Kong" (episode seven from season two) is the only Goodie episode that is officially missing from BBC archives. However, an expanded, more elaborate version of the episode called ‘Kitten Kong: Montreux '72 Edition’, especially made for 1972 Montreux festival, does exist, and is said to have only minor differences with its 1971 prototype. The Goodies were awarded the Silver Rose at the 1972 Montreux festival for this special episode. Several other episodes that were originally screened in colour are also missing, but exist as black and white telerecordings made for overseas sales.

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