The death from Coronavirus related complications of Tim Brooke-Taylor has been a real shock. He might have been 79 but his personality and even his appearance had changed little since the late 60’s. Brooke-Taylor had always been about 40 years old.
There was phase a couple of decades back when comedy was supposed to be the new rock and roll but in the 70’s it was so much more important than that. Comedy was the great unifier, generations would gather together to watch in real time, and the next day we could talk about it at school. The greatest unifier was the Morecambe and Wise Show, there was really nothing else that could have entertained three generations of my family equally. The greatest kudos in terms of next day playground conversations was Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The show was usually hidden away on some latish slot, a lot of it wasn’t actually that funny but the sketches were very repeatable when spoken in a funny voice by a 12 year old.
The Goodies navigated the ground between the two poles. Still a recognisable sitcom format but quite invent and surreal at times. Formed by Brooke -Taylor with two contemporaries Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie the show was incredibly popular and spanned the 70’s. Like a lot of comedy and variety shows The Goodies blossomed with the BBC but eventually turned to the big money of ITV and fizzled out. The show was in fact very expensive to make as it utilised lot of special effects which, although primitive were very costly.
At the heart of the show however, like most great sitcoms there was the characters which loosely reflected the actual actors themselves . Although they had all been part of the Cambridge Footlights scene Oddie was the least posh and from ‘the north’ and so was the scruffy anarchist. Brooke-Taylor with the double-barrelled name was inevitable the conservative royalist and Garden was the ‘mad scientist’.
The Goodies came from the same background as a lot of the Monty Python cast but inevitable got labelled as a bit Python lite. With a lot of slapstick humour, they appealed to kids and were one of the most popular shows for years and years.
In many respects though The Goodies had more in common with the Monkees than the Pythons. This was further reinforced by a diversification into music. Ever since the days of Charlie Drake and Bernard Cribbins comedy songs were a prominent feature of the charts and invariably Top of the Pops were willing to promote songs from their stable of talent. Like a lot of entertainers Oddie clearly fancied himself as a pop star and had actually had an earlier far less lucrative career releasing some singles in his own right. Eventually it seemed the time was right to use Oddie’s abilities to broaden the Goodies brand (as we didn’t say in the 70’s). The first real attempt (after the Goodies theme) was ‘the Inbetweenies’ the B side was ‘Father Christmas do not Touch Me’. Yes, it was the 70’s, in fact in an attempt to revive the record the sides were flipped. This was followed by ‘Black Pudding Bertha’,’Nappy Love’ (which luckily I have totally erased from my memory banks) and finally the apex of their career ‘Funky Gibbon’. On the latter they were apparently backed by genuine funk band Gonzalez.
Oddie was actually quite a good singer but no one has looked more unlikely as a pop star than Graeme Garden although he appeared to enjoy donning the glove as an Alvin Stardust Tribute during Funky Gibbon. Brooke-Taylor, as in everything he did, just appeared to be having a great time.
My favourite Goodies musical moment was their rendition of ‘Wild Thing’, suffice to say I wasn’t really familiar with the Troggs or Hendrix at this time. I’m slightly ashamed to admit the Goodies were my first introduction to this classic.
Time’s not been that kind to the Goodies, although the BBC have been happy to repeat Dad’s Army weekly for the last 40 years they’ve kind of disowned the series, possibly because, unlike Dads Army, it was a contemporary show and reflected 70’s values which don’t hold up too well today.
Or perhaps it wasn’t that good.. you can be the judge, head for YouTube !!
Goodie Goodie yum yum