1 9 7 0 – 1 9 8 2 (UK)
73 x 30 minute episodes
1 x 50 minute episode
1 x 45 minute episode
1 x 25 minute episode
By the second series of Broaden Your Mind, the trio of Brooke-Taylor, Garden and Oddie were assembled and determined to continue working together, focusing on the filmed visual comedy they so enjoyed writing and performing.
They approached the BBC’s Head of TV Comedy, Michael Mills, with an idea based on “an agency of three blokes, who do anything, any time” and Mills, despite receiving many similar outlines, had enough faith in the three comics to let them proceed.
The resulting show, which had the working title Narrow Your Mind to follow its predecessor, was first titled Super Chaps Three, and ultimately The Goodies.
The Goodies debuted on 8 November 1970 and became a landmark in British comedy, attracting 10 million viewers.
The Goodies were essentially a “fix-it” team, committed to helping those in need (and hopefully get rich and famous or take over the world in the process). Tim, Bill and Graeme nursed sick pets, launched rockets to the moon, house-sat lighthouses and competed in the Olympics.
Each of the trio had his own character – Tim was patriotic but cowardly, Graeme (a real doctor) was a mad scientist and Bill was solid, dependable and the composer of the appalling music that used to accompany The Goodies wherever they went.
Each week the three climbed aboard and promptly fell off their customised bicycle for three (the ‘Trandem’) before remounting to pedal off to their task. The trio specialised in visual humour and did their own stunts.
The show featured some ingeniously entertaining ideas, including “Kitten Kong” where a giant kitten terrorised London, and an episode which showed only too clearly the dire consequences should there be a breeding epidemic of Rolf Harrises!
Like live-action versions of Warner Brothers cartoons, episodes incorporated speeded-up footage, sight gags, surrealism, and good old-fashioned violent slapstick.
Each show would feature a song played during the chase sequences. Bill Oddie and Michael Gibbs wrote all the music, including the classic Funky Gibbon. Most episodes also included one or a few mock TV advertisements, which delightfully sent up the genre.
For the most part, the shows were fairly lightweight, although one programme did attack apartheid and showed a South African piano with only white keys and a zebra crossing where pedestrians avoided the black strips.
The BBC seemed to treat The Goodies as virtually a children’s programme, a state of affairs that led to them becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Corporation. Critics never accorded The Goodies the same degree of cultural standing as Monty Pythons Flying Circus, probably considering their corny jokes and blatant slapstick less worthy than the Pythons’ verbal artistry.
If this snub bothered The Goodies they did not show it, and in one famous sequence they even featured John Cleese in a cameo role, as a genie taunting them with the jibe “Kids’ programme!”.
Mary Whitehouse once described The Goodies as being “too sexually orientated”, taking particular issue with Tim Brooke-Taylor who had always seemed about as unlikely a sex symbol as Harry Worth. Mrs Whitehouse stated: “Tim Brooke-Taylor was seen undressing, then dressing to mock John Travolta in an exceedingly tight pair of underpants with a distinctive carrot motif on the front”.
Celebrity appearances were a feature of The Goodies, editions of which often spoofed other programmes and so were tailor-made for cameos, with all manner of unlikely TV personalities turning up, including Michael Aspel, Sue Lawley, John LeMesurier, Jane Asher, Mollie Sugden, David Dimbleby, Terry Wogan, Tony Blackburn, John Peel, soccer commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, quizmaster Magnus Magnusson, astronomer Patrick Moore and, perhaps most memorably of all, the rugby league commentator Eddie Waring.
The Goodies was ultimately axed by the BBC to make way for Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Bill Oddie was summoned into an office at the BBC and told that the BBC was planning a TV version of Hitch Hikers and, unfortunately, they didn’t have enough money to service the special effects on The Goodies AND Hitch Hikers Guide.
Naturally, they looked for a new home and found it at LWT, albeit just for one more series.
During their BBC years, The Goodies twice won the Silver Rose of Montreux (“Kitten Kong”, the 1972 winner, was a partial remake of an episode that had first aired on 12 November 1971). The Goodies also appeared in character on Top Of The Pops, Crackerjack, Seaside Special and in the 1976 fund-raiser A Poke In The Eye (With A Sharp Stick).
They further performed a short, self-contained comedy segment in each episode of the 13-week BBC1 show Engelbert With The Young Generation, starring the singer Engelbert Humperdinck (9 January-2 April 1972).
Tim Brooke-Taylor passed away in April 2020 after contracting the COVID-19 virus. He was 79.