Goodies 40th Birthday DVD

Monday, 08 November 2010 10:48

There has been nothing quite like The Goodies.  Unfortunately, due to an ages-old bust-up with the BBC, their adventures are falling into the memory hole, with very few of their potential next generation of fans ever having heard of them.  To their credit, Auntie Beeb did mention the intrepid trio’s 40th anniversary on their flagship The One Show, featuring a host of the clips and our heroes in-studio, thankfully being given the chance to promote Network’s DVD celebration of the series.

You can trace back the animosity to a time before they were poached by ITV. Michael Grade became aware of the dissatisfaction in the camp, in the way the nation’s public broadcaster was treating a series that had been on-air and doing great ratings over a decade, since 1970. A Christmas special for 1980 was cancelled, and the gang and their trandem three-seater cycled over to the commercial LWT. However, the new boss was the same as the old boss – they simply didn’t know where to schedule the show.

The Goodies - At Last, Back For More, Again DVDThe series had the energy that had been present in The Goons on radio, married to a visual humour that went back to the great era of the silent movies – it was this visual humour which appealed to the judges who awarded them the Silver Rose of Montreux twice (“Kitten Kong” – 1972, “Movies” – 1975), then a huge award which in itself made headlines.

The Goodies unleashed a blend of surreal storylines, strikingly topical satire, slapstick and lunacy on an appreciative viewing public. Capturing the irreverent and rebellious flavour of the previous decade, the 1960s, it was an award-winning series which spread its mischief over twelve years, nine series and numerous specials, making household names of creators, writers and performers Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Tim was cast as a wimpy patriotic royalist, Graeme a batty mad scientist and inventor, and Bill as a passionate activist, sometimes cynical and often an outsider.  It was a triumvirate which allowed for a whole host of outlandish storylines, where literally anything and everything could happen.

Mary Whitehouse, the clean-up TV campaigner, has often been cited as one of the reasons that the top brass at the BBC had another problem with The Goodies.  Tim Brooke-Taylor, in an article in ‘The Times’ noted: “I was at a party to celebrate the making of the first series of The Goodies. Our producer, John Howard Davies, stood on a chair to make an announcement. It was a letter from one of our viewers saying that she thought The Goodies was a great addition to the BBC’s output. Quite nice, we thought, until we heard the dreaded words – “from a Mrs Mary Whitehouse”. The room fell silent...

“Somehow we had to get back at Mary Whitehouse. We decided to do a show all about her. The character was called Mrs Desiree Carthorse and was played by Beryl Reid. In the show, Mrs Carthorse thought that we were the ideal people to make a clean film about the facts of life...  We did finally shake off the curse of Mrs W, in an episode entitled “Saturday Night Grease”. I played a John Travolta type getting dressed to Night Fever on the record player. As I struggled into a pair of tight jeans, my Y-fronts were revealed to have a large carrot painted on the front. To this day it looks pretty innocent to me. But not to Mrs W. She sent a telegram to the Director-General of the BBC complaining specifically about the carrot. Phew! We were back in business, our ‘street cred’ intact”.

Network has digitally restored the episodes on The Goodies – At Last, Back For More Again - this new release. What isn’t widely known, until you do a quick check on the BBC website, is that many master tapes are missing for the show, much in the famous way they are through the Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee eras of Doctor Who. Indeed, some episodes, all of which were filmed in colour by the way, only exist in nostalgic monochrome

Celebrating the series’ fortieth anniversary, this new volume comprises eight of the very best episodes – from rescuing kidnapped musicians to defending Camelot against town planners, from creating honest advertising to fighting a ban on fun instigated by an all-too-real puppet government, I remember all of them from their first transmission.  Embedded in your consciousness, classics in their almost-unique genre. The best thing of all is that while some of the cultural references have dated, the humour is as fresh and lively as ever.


This set comes with a brand-new booklet by archive television historian Andrew Pixley – and all the re-releases have an accompanying dedicated booklet, too.

The Goodies – At Last, Back For More Again, is out now as a two disc set from Network, with a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 254 minutes approx, and a RRP of £19.99 – or get it for less from www.culttvstore.com

Also worth noting is that Network have combined this release together with their previous three double-DVD releases, to create a special box set The Goodies ... At Last The 40th Anniversary. It contains 31 episodes, including the full LWT series, and contains the rest of the iconic moments, including the giant white fluffy kitten called Twinkle, a slippery climb up a giant beanstalk, and the ancient Lancastrian martial art of Ecky Thump. Again it has a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 955 minutes approx, and a RRP of £59.99 – or again, you can get it for less at www.culttvstore.com 

 

The Goodies – At Last, Back For More Again: Episodes Featured

1.06 “Cecily

The Goodies find themselves fallen on hard times, and literally have to consider doing anything, anywhere, anytime – including babysitting a young girl, who seems to be the victim of uncaring and aloof parents.  But all is not as it seems...

Guest Starring: Lena Ellis, Ann Way, Robert Bernal, Jill Riddick

Original Transmission: 13 December 1970

 

2.05 “The Music Lovers

Musicians are being kidnapped – so it’s up to the Goodies to fill in, hoping to be kidnapped themselves to solve the mystery. Things end up being worse than they thought, getting locked in a cell with Rolf Harris!

Guest Starring: Henry McGee, Corbet Woodall, Norman Mitchell.

Original Transmission: 29 October 1971

 

3.01 “The New Office

Builders and then Estate Agents foil The Goodies in their bid to get more salubrious premises.  Swindled out of £100,000 they end up building their own disused rail station, its mobility a benefit, but they soon find themselves under attack from monster construction equipment.

Guest Starring: Joe Melia, Julie Desmond

Original Transmission: 4 February 1973

 

5.14 “Goodies Rule - OK?

After The Goodies have their act, “The Bootles” stolen by some famous scousers, they plot a way to create a 1970s supergroup to finally gain stardom. Wembley Stadium beckons, but the police buy all the tickets. Their trend for bouncing gets banned, which leads to them literally having to take on a puppet Government, including Sooty, Hector and Dougal!

Guest Starring: Michael Barrett, Sir Patrick Moore, Tony Blackburn, Sue Lawley, Eddie Waring, Terry Wogan, Corbet Woodall, Norman Mitchell, Barry Cryer, Sheila Steafel

Original Transmission: 21 December 1975

 

4.01 “Camelot

Tim’s Uncle asks The Goodies to look after his castle, and Graeme decides the best way to save it from having a road driven through it is to turn it into a tourist attraction. They can defeat a dragon, even a knight, but can they really take on the town planners?

Guest Starring: Alfie Bass

Original Transmission: 1 December 1973

 

6.05 “It Might As Well Be String

Advertising gets a revamp courtesy of The Goodies, who find excessive ads and telling the truth don’t help sales.  They corner the market with a new product – string. Raymond Baxter uses a Tomorrow’s World feature to orchestrate a scene-stealing cameo, and Valerie Leon lifts spirits by simply being Valerie Leon in a Hai Karate ad spoof.

Guest Starring: Raymond Baxter, Valerie Leon, Marcelle Sammett

Original Transmission: 19 October 1976

 

6.06 “2001 and A Bit

In the near future, Raquel’s kids have taken over the business, but they’ve all got mixed up, as Bill Brooke-Taylor notes. Tim Garden challenges Graeme Oddie when he turns up in a “Rollerball” outfit having made the team ... but this game is “Roller...EGG”! But it’s to cricket and the MCC to save the day ... or not.

Guest Starring: Oliver Gilbert

Original Transmission: 26 October 1976

 

7.05 “Royal Command

The Royal Family find the regular rota of acts at their Command Performance tedious, so it’s up to The Goodies to reinvent the format. The Royals take over the BBC, turning all shows to a horse bias, but they end up in hospital, all bones broken.  It’s up to The Goodies to cover for them.

Guest Starring: Terry Denton, Ernie Goodyear, Ricky Newby

Original Transmission: 6 December 1977

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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