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THE COMPLETE GOODIES
(from C&G #54 June 2000)
The C&G is proud to endorse the ultimate Goodies reference book - "The Complete Goodies" by Robert Ross. "The Complete Goodies" was launched by Robert and all three Goodies at a special gala function in London on May 23rd and can be ordered via a link from the Goodies Rule - OK web site at http://thegoodies.oztek.com.au/bookshop.html.
A number of our club members were fortunate enough to attend the book launch in person, and Lisa Manekofsky has kindly provided us with the following report on the evening:
"The Goodies - In Person" at the National Film Theatre in London (23 May 2000)
On Tuesday, 23 May 2000, the National Film Theatre in London hosted an event entitled "The Goodies - In Person". The event had been organized by Robert Ross, who is the author of a new book about The Goodies that was being launched that night. It had been stated at the Kitten Kon convention last month that the NFT event had sold out very quickly (reportedly in only 2 1/2 days). Apparently there weren't enough seats to meet the demand; upon arrival at the theatre we saw that there were many of people waiting in the stand-by line, in hopes that some tickets would become available.
The Goodies event was held in the largest theatre of the NFT, which seats about 500 people. The audience appeared to span a wide range of ages, from college age to people in their 60's (that's my best guess, at least). The "Yum Yum, Best of the Goodies" CD was being playing for the audience as they waited for the event to begin.
A little after 6:30 p.m., Robert Ross was introduced. Robert explained that we would first be shown an episode of The Goodies, "The Movies", and then the threesome themselves would be appearing on stage. "The Movies" episode, along with the other footage that was shown that evening, was shown on a large screen and the NFT had obtained a beautiful quality print. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the episode from the opening credits onwards; when the famous clip of Twinkle the kitten knocking over the Post Office Tower appeared in the opening credits I heard sounds of pleased recognition from fans who obviously hadn't seen this in quite a while.
At the end of the episode Robert Ross came back to the stage (which was set up in front of the screen) and began to introduce the Goodies, who had been watching the episode from the projection booth at the back of the theatre. Robert introduced Tim first, and there was a thunderous round of applause and cheers from the audience. I think Robert expected the applause to die down a bit so he could introduce the other two Goodies; once it became apparent that this wasn't going to happen Robert had to strain his voice to introduce Graeme and Bill, who came strolling down the aisle after Tim as the applause and cheering got even more enthusiastic. Robert and the Goodies took seats on the stage and the applause finally died down.
Tim, Graeme, and Bill were obviously pleased with the reception and they seemed to be having a great time. Robert took on the role of interviewer. When he asked the first question Bill asked to whom it was addressed. Bill explained that he had a bad habit of interrupting and said that he was not going to do that tonight, he would only reply when he was addressed. This provided a cue for Tim to jump in and become the self-designated interrupter for the evening. ;) On several occasions throughout the question and answer session Robert failed to address a question to a specific Goodie. On one of those occasions Bill and Tim said they'd both give their version of the answer and then they'd let Graeme state what the truth actually was (although Graeme ended up by saying that Bill and Tim had jointly given an accurate account). Other times Tim made a point of addressing one of Robert's questions to Graeme, to make sure he didn't fall into his accustomed role of being the quiet one of the trio in interviews (allowing Tim to once again show the moderator skills that he demonstrated so capably during the videoconference at Kitten Kon).
During the Question and Answer session the Goodies told many of the stories that were told at Kitten Kon, either by Tim during one of his Q&A sessions or during the videoconference in which all three Goodies participated. In general, I think the convention audience may have gotten more details, but this certainly wasn't true in all cases. One fun exception was when the Goodies were discussing the infamous incident in which a man laughed himself to death while watching the "Kung Fu Kapers"/"Ecky Thump" episode. They said that the minister at the man's funeral mentioned that the widow was going to write to the Goodies to thank them for making her husband's last moments so happy; this was how the press picked up the story (if I understood correctly). I believe it was Tim who then said this had led the Goodies to joke about some advertisements which they obviously couldn't actually do for their series (in the interests of good taste) - in a dramatic voice, like the ones used in ads for horror movies, he gave some examples along the lines of "The Goodies - do you dare to watch?" or "can you survive to the end of the episode?".
The NFT was filming the event for their archives, according to the handout for the evening. A small snag came up at one point. The Goodies were telling the story about the special effects crew trying to figure out how to film the scene from Kitten Kon in which the Goodies' characters race off the roof of a building and, in best cartoon tradition, hang in mid-air for a few seconds, look down, smile at the camera, and *then* fall. In his enthusiasm to explain the scene, Bill dashed to the front of the stage as Tim and Graeme called out to tell him he had moved out of the camera shot. Robert handed Bill a microphone (since he had moved away from the mike in front of his seat); Bill held the microphone for a few seconds and started to use it. However, he then handed it back to Robert so that he (Bill) could continue his explanation, which included gesturing with his hands, for the live audience without being encumbered by holding the microphone (while Tim and Graeme just took it in stride). It was quite funny to see Bill's enthusiasm, although I suspect that the videographer might not have felt the same way. ;)
Another highlight came when Bill was explaining that he particularly enjoyed the planning stage of making the Goodies episodes. This involved meeting with the director, special effects team, and other members of the crew to plan out how they were going to make the episodes prior to actually doing the filming. During this explanation Bill said that he didn't consider himself to be much of a performer. He then paused and looked over at Tim and Graeme, with a big grin on his face. Graeme said something like "don't beat yourself up over it", paused, and then he and Tim said together (in perfect unison), "let us do that for you". It was obviously an old joke between friends and it got a very big laugh from the audience.
During the course of the Question & Answer session three pieces of footage were shown. The first was the opening scene from the first episode of The Goodies, "The Tower of London" (which shows the Goodies arriving at their new office and getting their first job). In order to show the clip, the lights were lowered in the theatre and Robert and the Goodies remained seated on the stage, in front of and just below the screen. Robert, Graeme, and Tim were able to turn their chairs a bit so they could see the screen. Bill, however, would have had to turn his chair completely around to be able to see the screen. Instead of doing so, he initially knelt down on the floor in front of his chair. Although this obviously wasn't his intention, it almost appeared that he was kneeling down to the images on the screen (which seemed like a funny thought to me). As the clip played there was a slightly surreal moment - the real life Goodies had, probably by coincidence, sat down on the stage in the order in which they often lined up in the episodes (by height, with Tim in the middle). For a few seconds, the on-screen characters were lined up almost exactly over their real-life counterparts. Perhaps this isn't overly noteworthy, but I found it amusing.
Later in the Q&A session Robert introduced a clip from the LWT episode "Change of Life". They showed a scene in which the Goodies are competing against a robot (which had been built by Graeme's character in the earlier LWT episode, "Robot") to prove that they weren't too old to still be the Goodies. The scene features a lot of self parody and references to classic episodes such as "Kitten Kong", "The Goodies and the Beanstalk", and "Kung Fu Kapers"/"Ecky Thump". I think the Goodies themselves were quite interested to see this footage; I heard at least one of them (Bill, I think) say that he hadn't seen it in a very long time.
After what seemed like far too short a time, the event was reaching its conclusion. However, before it ended Robert introduced one final piece of footage - the Goodies performing "The Funky Gibbon" on "Top of the Pops". The clip included Tony Blackburn introducing the Goodies; the audience broke into laughter as soon as they saw Tony on the screen (though it might partially have been due to his mid-1970s haircut). As the clip was playing I noticed Tim and Graeme having a conversation about it; I was hoping they'd get a chance to make some comments afterwards. However, it appeared that this footage had been planned as the closing for the event; as soon as the TOTP clip finished and the lights came up in the theatre Robert thanked everyone for coming and he, Bill, Tim, and Graeme received another long round of applause. Before leaving the stage Tim spotted retired Goodies Rule - OK President Alison Bean in the audience and he made sure to point her out to Graeme, who was standing next to him.
After the conclusion of the event a very long line of people queued up to purchase Robert Ross's new book and to get it autographed by the three Goodies. I think the only complaint that could have been made was that the evening seemed to go by much too quickly; here's hoping that there will indeed be another such event in the near future!
"The Goodies - In Person" Handout
Attendees at "The Goodies - In Person" evening also received a handout containing some interesting background information, and again many thanks to Lisa Manekofsky for transcribing the text for our enjoyment:
Send in the Clowns: TV Comedy
The Goodies - In Person
We are delighted to welcome Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor - The Goodies - to the NFT stage to be interviewed by Robert Ross.
Robert Ross is the author of The Carry On Companion, Monty Python Encyclopedia, Benny Hill: The Complete Companion, Carry On Uncensored and Last of the Summer Wine: The Finest Vintage.
His latest publication, The Complete Goodies (published by B. T. Batsford) is launched tonight. Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Robert Ross will be signing copies in the foyer following this presentation.
They did anything, any time, and they ruled the `70s because of it. Living at `No fixed Abode, Cricklewood', The Goodies patrolled North-west London on their trusty three-seater bike, leaving behind them a wake of chaos and lunacy. A bearded hippie, a mad scientist and a true Brit, The Goodies eccentric adventures messed with the minds of an entire generation.
`We just went straight ahead and wrote the most stupid bloody things we could come up with,' muses Bill Oddie. `Looking back on our early days,' he continues, `I can't believe that we did some of those things. And I don't mean that in a congratulatory sense, quite the opposite, because I look at some of the old episodes and wonder what the hell we were doing.'
`I don't think we should have stopped earlier, though,' adds Graeme Garden, `We should have started later.' Bill agrees, `That's a perfect way of putting it, because by about 1974 we finally started to get the hang of things.'
Graeme has a theory: `Back in the old days the BBC was very supportive of new TV shows. If your first series wasn't that great, they would trust you enough to grow and develop into the second one. It wouldn't have happened with the commercial companies, because if you didn't get the ratings straight away, you were out.' Ah, the Beeb. Although in later years the BBC dumped The Goodies in favour of the more `alternative' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, back in the days of flared trousers and glam rock, the BBC was the very picture of tolerance and generosity. `Best of all,' adds Graeme, `we rapidly got ourselves - perhaps earlier than we believed was possible - into a situation where we were allowed to do whatever we wanted to do,' and eventually, as Bill points out, they `delivered the goods.'
The Goodies were a hit. Kids and parents around the country tuned in every week to see what kind of bizarreness the guys would get themselves into, and since Bill and Graeme wrote all of the shows (Tim Brooke-Taylor also had a minor writing credit for a while, but the others soon put a stop to that), they only had themselves to blame for the ensuing madness. `And as you may have observed,' points out Bill, `since Graeme and I wrote the scripts, Tim had to do most of the difficult and dangerous bits. Looking back over the whole series, though, I think we became a bit of a victim of our own style. I actually prefer the episodes where we had a bit more to say. I think we were better actors eventually - and I do mean eventually - than we allowed ourselves to be. I was particularly bad in the first two or three series. Tim was variable, and Graeme was consistent - he was never any good! It's a pity, though, that we didn't make more shows where we were able to act, and I think we'd do it even better now than we did then, to be honest. But the public liked the running about!'
Every loyal Goodies fan will no doubt remember `The Funky Gibbon', `The Inbetweenees' and the four or five other novelty pop hits the guys churned out. `It was a joke come true,' chuckles Bill. `A bloke I used to play charity football with, who was a record producer, quite rightly saw an opportunity there, and since the music was on the show, it was self-promoting.'
And so The Goodies made it on to Top of the Pops. Graeme picks up the story. `When we first went there, I remember thinking that the last thing the show needed was three sad old men, but once we got there, we realised that all the other acts were sad old men too, and that made us feel a lot better.' Bill interrupts: `We're talking Mud, Bay City Rollers, Gary Glitter and Neil Sedaka all introduced by a sad old paunchy DJ - we all felt quite young then, like New Kids on the Block!'
credited to Marshall Julius, "What's On," 7 September 1994
Note at the end of the credits: Programme notes and credits compiled by Filmographic Services, bfi National Library. Notes may be edited or abridged.