Reviews

The Goodies ...At Last the 40th Anniversary

4

Admirable boxset reassesses the Goodies' legacy

Why have The Goodies never had their due? Tim Brooke-Taylor (the cowardly one), Graeme Garden (the boffin) and Bill Oddie (the small hairy one) simply aren’t remembered as well as the Monty Python team – their comedy and university contemporaries.

During a recent live appearance on The One Show, the clueless presenter even referred to them as “The Goonies”. Where’s the respect?

Python John Cleese summed it up in a cameo: “Kids’ programme!” he taunts, before disappearing in a puff of smoke (he played a genie in the 1973 Christmas special).

And it’s true – Cricklewood’s finest may have appeared in 74 episodes between 1970 and 1982, written bestselling books and even had a bunch of hit singles, but they’ve largely been dismissed simply as, you know, for kids.

This admirable boxset reassesses their legacy, gathering together almost half of their total TV output, and all of their most memorable moments.

As three chaps willing to do ‘Anything, Anytime, Anywhere’, the Goodies had only the loosest ‘sit’ for their ‘com’, and one of the series’ greatest strengths is that anything can happen.

Whether it’s a giant kitten running amok in London, a ‘puppet government’ taking over the country (with Sooty as Prime Minister), or black pudding-wielding, flat cap-wearing martial artists fighting in the ancient Lancastrian ’Ecky Thump style.

There’s a freewheeling dottiness to proceedings that has aged rather well.

Yes, the highlights are often the mostly wordless, sped-up scenes – the best of which is a jaw-droppingly inventive silent film pastiche in the episode ‘The Movies’.

But the scripts include patches of adult social satire, for example in the episode ‘South Africa’, where the diminutive Bill fights ‘Apartheight’.

Booklets of exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) programme notes by archivist Andrew Pixley, who has evidently researched every moment of the show’s history, lead the extras list.

The Goodies themselves sound rather bemused at the antics of their younger selves on the good-natured commentaries, and while there’s not the series-spanning documentary fans would have liked, the inclusion of various archive interview and song performance clips – including their classic song ‘Funky Gibbon’ – is welcome.

As is the wonderfully random news footage as Brooke-Taylor judges a turkey competition – complete with an interview from none other than Bernard Matthews!

 

Verdict:

An excellent collection of an overlooked cornerstone of British TV comedy.

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