Bill is busy doing the cooking as Tim and Graeme arrive home famished (with Graeme commenting "Oh dear, it's hard work being a Goodie!" as he does a mini-Snooze routine with automated giant slippers, drink, pipe and newspaper appearing while he is comfortably seated in his chair.) Bill has prepared a healthy balanced meal of completely natural fresh foodstuffs ("You can tell that (it's healthy) because it's all brown!") from the recipes in the edible Natural Health Cookbook, (which includes brown milk and lettuce, much to the disgust of the others.) Bill's main course consists of one-third of a nutritious sultana each and seaweed salad (complete with live crab that latches onto Tim's finger) and Graeme's declaration that "This is hopeless. We can't eat this muck!" forces Bill to bring out "the ultimate in basic food" - a pot of soil (with watercress garnish!) for each of them. Tim wants some sugar to go with it but Bill refuses and instead offers Tim honey (a bee in a matchbox!); while he also gives Graeme a glass of plankton to wash his soil down with. Graeme finally rebels ("That does it, you've obviously gone loony!") and decides to go out for some fine British cuisine instead. Tim quickly follows him and Bill's pleas for them to eat all of the food that he has cooked soon changes to "... and I'm coming with you, yeah!" as the yuckiness of his menu hits home.
The Goodies arrive at Ye Olde Shepherd's Cottage Restaurant by trandem (riding right into the dining area, though the waiter calmly offers to take their bike for them) and peruse the menu after an impatient Bill has loudly demanded one. Ye Olde Shepherd's Cottage supposedly serves the finest British farm produce, but Graeme reads a notice on the bottom of the menu that the restaurant uses "the latest techniques of food production ... tinned, frozen, preserved, coloured and flavoured by experts". The Goodies notice another diner being served soup straight from a can and Graeme's pork chop consists of a massive bone with only a tiny bit of meat on it (which the waiter has to point out to him and gives him a tiny cutlery set to eat it with); a result of the latest agricultural production techniques. The waiter outlines various other disgustingly tasteless canned, frozen and processed menu items which prompt Tim to suggest that the Goodies should go to visit his Uncle Tom's farm for some proper fresh farm food.
The Goodies cycle out into the countryside dressed in frocks and hats like simple country folk, much to the bemusement of the regularly-attired Uncle Tom when he eventually meets them (though a starving Bill rationalises this by saying "Everyone dresses like this in the country, especially for eating in!"). Much to their own surprise though, the Goodies find that Uncle Tom's 'farm' is essentially a laboratory filled with computers, with chores such as feeding, milking and shearing done automatically by pushing a button on the main control panel. The animals are all kept in battery pens and various experiments are being carried out to produce mutations such as cheese-and-onion-flavoured product, square eggs (for ease of packing, though Uncle Tom remarks "Stuff the hens!" when Graeme protests about the difficulty of the laying process) and boneless chickens. Tim's notion of farms being about "the sheep in the meadow, the cows in the corn" is dismissed as "sentimental claptrap" by Uncle Tom and the Goodies are given a list of chores to do on the actual farm itself.
The Goodies work hard on the farm (as they blow up the mains hens, milk butter from the cows, turn pigs into sausages and herd duck pies among other chores) and after more than four days they are absolutely starving, but are too revolted to eat any of Uncle Tom's awful farm produce. Graeme sacrifices a good piece of steak by letting his 'yummy meter' computer eat it just to prove his bleedingly obvious scientific theory that the farm food is no good; which in turn causes Bill to flip his wig and attempt to sink his teeth into a horrid-tasting chicken in desperation for a feed! Tim comments that "Anything bred on this place of evil is bound to be horrible", while Graeme theorises that "An unhappy chicken does not make good eating" and nastily tells Bill that "(the animals) aren't fit for people to eat, let alone you!"
When Uncle Tom reveals to the Goodies that he sells most of his produce to Ye Olde Shepherd's Cottage, the Goodies decide to put an end to his foul food by stopping the demand for it and soon get their chance when the restaurant requires some extra waiters. After changing the wiring at the farm to feed gunpowder to the hens, concrete to the cows and rubber to the bullocks, they serve up food at Ye Olde Shepherd's Cottage which either explodes, runs around on the plate, is impossible to carve or stretches to the size of a tablecloth. The customers all either faint or leave in disgust and both the Ye Olde Shepherd's Cottage and Uncle Tom's battery farm are soon put out of business.
Tim feels somewhat sorry that his uncle's life work has been destroyed, but is pleased that it is "no longer a farm of shame". After ten days of famine, Bill is ready to sacrifice the first happy naturally grown chicken, but is stopped by Uncle Tom who has seen the light (and actually seen his animals for the first time) after having kept them locked up in cages for the past 25 years. He had always wanted to be a zookeeper but had been told by his father at the age of two that he would have to carry on the family's farming tradition and so he had never been able to look an animal in the face again since then. Now he wants to hear "the hens mooing and the cows crowing" and to look after 'Esmerelda' and his other animals by playing them music and feeding them fresh country produce, much to the horror of the ravenous Goodies. To placate their demands for food, Uncle Tom puts the Goodies in the battery enclosures and feeds them grain; then they each make loud clucking noises and three big eggs slide out the chutes below.
* Tim: (horrified at Bill's cooking): "I am not eating plankton!"
Bill: "Why not? Whales do."
Tim (objecting): "I am not a whale!"
Bill (cheekily) "That's 'cos you don't eat your plankton!"
* Waiter: "We at Ye Olde Shepherds Cottage do guarantee that the food we serve is prepared by experts."
Graeme: "Cordon bleu chefs?"
Waiter: "Nobel Prize chemists!"
* Tim: "Are you sure it's wild duck?"
Waiter: "Absolutely certain, Sir. Prime Aylesbury duckling hung upside-down by one leg in a plastic box until thoroughly wild ..."
* Tim: "Come on, we're leaving"
Waiter (preparing Tim's dessert): "But, your sweet Sir..."
Tim (flattered): "Ooh, thank you very much! But we're still leaving." (to a look of bemused revulsion from the waiter)
* Uncle Tom (regarding the jobs as waiters): "You'll get four quid a day and your meals thrown in."
Tim (disgusted): "You mean thrown up!"
* The Goodies carrying out the chores on Uncle Tom's farm, including Bill messing around with the controls of the mains hens eggs (alternating between raw, lightly boiled, medium & hard) until the whole henhouse blows up to his horror, Bill and Graeme vigorously shaking one of Uncle Tom's wheeled cows above their heads before Tim milks it to produce pre-wrapped butter (with the poor beast slowly keeling over sideways after its ordeal!), Bill wandering into the pig processing plant and emerging out the other end as a squealing sausage (before a panicked Tim reverses the machine) and Bill dressed in farm gear herding a flock of waddling duck pies
* Their stint as waiters at the restaurant after they have sabotaged feeding operations at the farm (to the excellent backing music of 'Down on the Farm'), with an egg blowing up and knocking a diner off his chair (after which he angrily shakes his fist and storms off) and further eggs detonating in front of a family dining out. A cake served up to an elderly gent blows up in his face; a duck pie starts walking around on the plate (causing an old lady to collapse with shock) and sausages start flying around the heads of perturbed diners. A rock-hard pot roast requires a sledgehammer to break it, a plateload of dumplings are bounced around like tennis balls by a young boy (lobbing in the Goodies' mouths while they are chuckling away at the mayhem that they have caused) and a steak is eventually stretched by various means (including tug-o-war and a heavy roller) to the size of a tablecloth; then draped over the shoulders of the irate diner like a cape before he stalks off in a huff.
John Le Mesurier, Frank Thornton, Andrea Lawrence, Reg Turner
Down on the Farm
Gloscalp Dandruff Control
I Like The Men Who Like The Beer
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
A difficult episode to rate as the visual sequences from the farm and the restaurant are wonderfully inventive and funny (the series of disasters at Ye Olde Shepherd's after the Goodies have changed the feed mixtures is actually one of my all-time favourite Goodies scenes) but much of the dialogue has a rather flat feel to it. John Le Mesurier and Frank Thornton play their guest roles to perfection, but both characters are straight-laced with rather subtle humour which, when coupled with the slow opening sequence of Bill's healthy meal, makes the episode drag a bit until the visuals eventually kick in.
BLACK PUDDING RATING
Graeme's relaxation devices after a hard day being a Goody
Graeme carves up his sultana for tea
Horrible-tasting healthy food
Arriving in the restaurant
Graeme's giant pork chop
The waiter after dealing with Tim!
The Goodies in simple country dress
Tim's Uncle Tom, the farmer
Uncle Tom's laboratory farm
Milking cows down on the farm
Graeme & Bill making butter
The pig processing machine
Bill the silly sausage after wandering into the machine
Herding duck pies down on the farm
Bill isn't happy with Graeme's Yummy Meter
Exploding egg at Ye Olde Shepherd's
Bill carving the pot roast
Oh dear, the pie is still alive!
Don't play with your food, Sonny!
The rubbery steak gets some tenderizing
Another unhappy customer
The Goodies about to lay an egg!