Back in the day, The Goodies was a staple of weeknight entertainment.
Back in the day, The Goodies was a staple of weeknight entertainment. Spawned from the same Cambridge Footlights scene that gave the comedy world Monty Python, The Goodies fell mid-way between the intellectual concepts and confrontational edge of Monty Python, and the knickers-bum-poo humour of Are You Being Served and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em. The Goodies were safe, relatively predictable and, above all, amusing. Wary of the ribald humour of other competing programmes, my parents were happy to let us watch The Goodies, and to explain the various ‘in’ jokes and characters that would appear throughout the series.
Forty years after the first Goodies episode, and it’s pleasing to see that the characters, plots and scripts haven’t aged as you might expect. The slapstick humour – Tim Brooke-Taylor falling into a river while flying a kite, Bill Oddie accidentally knocking his colleagues over with a large wooden plank – is as subtle as a sledgehammer, but delivered with a cute English style that remains endearing. The Goodies characters – the prudish, royalist Tim, bespectacled mad scientist Graham and bell bottomed garden hippie Bill – are well defined, and provide contrasting anchors for the various unbelievable plot lines.
What has dated are the pop culture reference points – Cilla Black, Rolf Harris, Nicholas Parsons, to name but a few – that punctuate the plot lines. But that’s not enough to detract from the cheesy one-liners, the pissweak sets (much of the main set appears to be made from cardboard) and surprisingly tight scripts that made up each programme. A cursory glance at the credits is illuminating: whereas the average contemporary situation comedy has a production staff equivalent to a new suburb, The Goodies was created with a single cameraman, a single set designer and editor. The absence of too many production cooks presumably goes some way to explaining the endearing simplicity of the entire series.
The Goodies ran for a decade, finishing up in 1978. It’s taken a while for The Goodies to appear on DVD release; the passage of time, however, isn’t likely to have diminished the core group of dedicated Goodies fans.