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30 August 2014
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The Goodies

The Goodies

"Goodies, goodie-goodie-yum-yum": sing the opening of The Goodies to anyone over 35 and they'll get a faraway look in their eye...

...and be whisked back to a time of giant kittens destroying the GPO [sic] Tower, the rise and fall of the cream-mining industry, attempts to breed Rolf Harrises in captivity and three men in flares riding around the country on a three-seater "trandem".

The Goodies

The Goodies was the creation of Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor.  Having won a big audience for their children's show, Broaden Your Mind, they were let loose on a series with the simple premise that the trio were an agency offering to do "anything, anywhere, any time" - a premise they abandoned as soon as they could, leaving behind a tale of three very different men, all living in a giant office-cum-laboratory, usually either completely broke or amazingly rich, and always coming up with whacky schemes. 

At its best the programme had the wit and inventiveness of a golden-era Tom and Jerry or Warner Brothers cartoon, lightly sprinkled with satire and the odd song.

Visual invention was a particular hallmark, with the team making great use of chroma-key and models for effects like Kitten Kong and the famous sequence in The Movies where attempts by each of the three to make a film (a silent, a western and a Roman epic) at the same time results in a picture that sees them flow rapidly from movie to movie, breaking through frames, busting down genres and bringing in everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Julie Andrews.

The Goodies

As well as the influence of cartoons, The Goodies also derived humour from a broad-brush approach to class struggle... no, honestly.

Tim was the posh one, loyal right down to his Union Jack underpants to Queen, country and the blessed Margaret Thatcher; Graeme was a middle-class technocrat, forging a new country in the white heat of his technological revolution; and Bill was the flat-capped son of honest toil, red in tooth and ballot-box-preference. 

The Goodies was massively popular in its time, its wit appealing to adults, its visual humour appealing to children and The Goodies' songs (especially "The Funky Gibbon") achieving notable chart success.

The Goodies on Top of the Pops

A penchant for Goons-like silliness sometimes saw it attacked as a "kid's show", generally by people who resented its huge ratings success. 

There were more real problems, however.  In particular some scenes saw various Goodies blacking up or putting on "comedy" black accents.  While these things could (just) pass as innocent attempts at humour in the early 70s they feel very out of place all these years later.

For all that, The Goodies had many, many moments of sheer comic genius, whether it be Bill's adoption of the ancient martial art of Ecky Thump, Graeme ketchuping himself to death at the OK Tea Rooms or Tim being forced to sneak around in a bin bag to hide his true nature as a... gulp... scout.

No wonder so many people still campaign for repeats.

Cast

Bill Oddie
performer
Tim Brooke-Taylor
performer
Graeme Garden
performer

Crew

Bill Oddie
writer
Tim Brooke-Taylor
writer
Graeme Garden
writer
Jim Franklin
director
Bob Spiers
director
Jim Franklin
producer
Bob Spiers
producer
John Howard Davies
producer

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