The Goodies Still Rule OK!
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Celebrates The Goodies and their part in the remarkable explosion
of British comedy in the 1970s.
This is one of those shows that's almost beyond review. Those
who are Goodies fans will delight in seeing their heroes in the
flesh and hearing some anecdotes first-hand; those who weren't
fans will never come in the first place.
It is, basically, exactly what you might expect: two duffers
on stage reminiscing about their glory days, answering with warm,
friendly wit a list of safely pre-planned, or more likely made-up,
questions along the lines of 'How did you meet?' or 'What was
your most painful moment?'
The third member of the team, Bill Oddie, comes via pre-recorded
video not always seamlessly incorporated into the show, because
of his wildlife filming commitments.
There's a fine sense of fun pervading the show, from the moment
Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor's take to the stage in a
trandem Zimmer frame, to the self-deprecating badinage between
the two. Their age is clearly an issue, as to is the fact that
their greatest work has barely been seen on British screens in
a quarter of a century, thanks to the BBC.
'No one has seen the show in living memory,' they moan. That's
obviously not true, but I'd have expected more fans than the
half-empty theatre suggests. But it is Monday, it is a big room,
and they are here for a month.
There's more silliness in the double entendres the pair bat
around. There's something rather splendid about an older, seemingly
respectable, ex-doctor like Garden being crude, as any listener
to I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue will attest.
That long-running radio show was a spin-off from I'm Sorry
I'll Read That Again, a pun-riddled scene from which is re-enacted
as part of their thorough, but superficial, skim through the
Goodies' history. We also get a new performance of the audition
pieces Graeme and Bill performed for Tim during their time at
Cambridge, and Garden's daft talk about animals still has the
ability to endear and amuse after 40 years.
But we're here for the Goodies, and there are clips galore.
Not the well-worn cat up the BT Tower or Jack And The Beanstalk,
but Ecky Thump, a Mary Whitehouse satire, the very first episode,
and, the climax, a long, expensive but impressive montage loosely
parodying movie genres. Even a couple of non-PC scenes, one in
which Tim plays the campest gay man around to advertise 'Fairy
Puffs' washing powder, another in which Graeme blacks up to play
For those who haven't seen the recent DVD releases, the footage
serves as a welcome reminder of why they were so popular. They
are remembered for being colourful and wacky which wrongly
puts them in the children's TV camp in some people's minds (even
though the original show went out at 10.30pm, Australian broadcasters
today air it in the 6pm family friendly slot). But actually,
they were great silent-film makers, fizzing with inventive visual
gags and messing with the medium of television.
This is more than enough to make you nostalgic for a return
of the Goodies, anytime, anyplace, anywhere which is presumably
One obvious thing missing, though, is any improvised interaction
with the audience. The die-hard fans (a few even in costume)
would surely relish some Q&A time for queries not covered
by the prewritten cards, and that would add a welcome air of
spontaneity to at least some of the show.