The London Palladium is packed for another glittering Royal Variety Show and the Queen makes a suitably dignified regal entrance to the hall along the red carpet (at least until she accidentally opens the door to the gent's loo and forces an embarrassed Graeme and Bill to hurriedly slam it closed again!) and eventually settles in the Royal box, along with other members of the Royal Family (and a horse for good measure!) Tim is the host of this stupendous evening of entertainment, but a procession of dreadfully boring acts (including Val Doonican in his rocking chair, Dickie Henderson doing golfing impressions, Lena Zavaroni crooning 'Old Man River' in a deep male voice and Charles Aznovour singing the Goodies' own nonsensical French song 'Charles Aznovoice') soon have the Royals nodding off to sleep.
However Graeme and Bill have been given the job of keeping the Royal Family awake during the Variety Show, which they achieve by increasingly unorthodox means (starting out with tapping them on the shoulder and shouting "Wakey wakey!", moving on to pelting them with fruit and ringing bells, then graduating to blasting them with fire hoses and firing revolvers in the air!), before they have to assist the bored Royals to applaud when the end of the show mercifully arrives (as Tim announces "Well all good things come to an end ... but so has this!")
Tim dresses up in the fancy "robes of an Earl", only for Graeme to burst into a fit of chuckles as he enters the Goodies' office ("I think it's the knees mainly!") Tim fully expects to be rewarded by the palace for his efforts to provide them with such great entertainment, but Bill delivers a Royal message (with Tim's cry of "Ugghh!" at their choice of courier drawing a response of "Oh come on, lay off the personal insults … old knobbly shanks!" from a miffed Bill) that the Royal family is "not best pleased." By being kept awake during the Royal Variety Show for the very first time, the Royals actually got to see how utterly boring it was. However Bill has "negotiated a peace settlement" and tells the others that the Royal Family have "promised not to send the Beefeaters around to bounce us off the wall on one condition" - that the Goodies provide a second show which is "an evening of spectacle and entertainment like what kings and queens used to enjoy in the good old days".
Tim reads the list of requests that the Royal Family has provided and gasps "We can't do that!" in horror, but Bill reminds him that there is "No choice matey, it's Royal command!" The second concert is a resounding success, with verbose host Graeme enthusiastically overseeing the torture and ritual humiliation of a number of thoroughly deserving so-called entertainers (including Max Bygraves, Rolf Harris and Rudolph Nureyev) to a delirious and rowdy audience of well-to-do lorded gentry. Afterwards Tim is ashamed at such behaviour ("They were like a pack of wild animals lusting for blood!"), so he packs away his robes and even shocks Bill with the revelation that "if they sent me an OBE now, I'd send it back".
Graeme enters the office triumphantly at this point with "glad tidings from the palace" (a whoopee cushion that Tim falls victim to) as he has been appointed as the 'Queen's Own Master Of Entertainment' ("hence the patriotic proboscis" – wearing a large fake nose with a Union Jack design on it), and he reveals that the Royal family have "decided to take an active interest in showbiz"; starting off in a small way by taking over the BBC! All programs on TV are soon replaced by ones that feature horse racing and showjumping themes ("Horse of the Year Show, Horse of the Day Show, Horse of the Minute Show …!"), but Graeme's bright idea of 'The Amazing Tumbling Royals' equestrian thrills on ice is a complete flop, as the members of the Royal Family break every bone in their bodies and are laid up in hospital swathed in plaster and bandages.
The Goodies visit the Royals in hospital (with Bill announcing "A visitor, Your Majesty. Tremulous Timbo, the nervous nut!") as a worried Tim creeps in (bringing a handful of carrots for the horses rather than a bunch of flowers for the patients) and he is astonished to hear that the Royals will be out of action for quite a while and require stand-ins to perform their duties as "the show must go on". Tim gracefully takes over as Queen in the interim, although his attempts to "do the voice" (multiple attempts at saying "My husband and I …", including one in his Lady Constance voice) are described as "rotten by Graeme, who just can't decide whether to be "him" (in Prince Philip's military-style navy jacket) or "her" (while also wearing Princess Anne's pale dress) "or I could be a bit of both" (doing a very silly combination of the walks of the two Royals, to which an unimpressed Tim deadpans "Yeah I think you could.") before Graeme finally settles on being "her".
Bill initially disguises himself as a corgi (in his Cuddly Scamp suit from 'Frankenfido') before he is forced to be "Young Him" as Tim tells him that he "must look recognisably regal and not funny" (then plonks a crown featuring gigantic flapping ears onto Bill's head!) Tim insists that there will be no more undignified gallivanting around and that the Goodies are to rehearse a new performance that "must be suitably refined and regal family entertainment". As Queen Tim sits at the piano (singing "Long to reign over you, God save me!"), Graeme (in a rather sexy-looking, though somewhat bizarre, outfit) introduces "the Clown Prince and Dad" - Bill and his ventriloquist act with a wooden dummy of Prince Philip. A displeased Tim huffs "We are not amused!", which sets off a haughty response from Graeme ("Begging one's pardon, one does not seem to appreciate the logistical problem, Timbo me ol' sovereign. I mean, there's only three of us and four of them and I've been up all night knocking up that Duke and I'd appreciate a little bit of gratitude!") that only gets an even more annoyed retort of "Silence!" from a huffy Tim.
Tim declares that although the Royal Family appear to have "flipped their lids and screwed up their public image", the Goodies must "take this opportunity to put things right", so they "regally sit down" and watch 'Stars on Sunday', which is screened from the Hickstead Equestrian Centre. This program is interrupted by a newsflash in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer (aboard a horse which jumps over obstacles as a reporter runs along behind in hot pursuit) announces that there will be a rerun of the Coronation next weekend in order to "screw the tourists for another few million" after revenue from the Jubilee celebrations in the previous year successfully restored Britain's balance of payments. Tim calls the hospital and speaks to the Queen, who is happy for the Goodies to stand in for the Royal Family at the Coronation rerun ("And besides, she'd like to stay in and watch it on telly, she missed it the first time!")
The tourists begin to flock to London in readiness for the Coronation (and the souvenir mugs are printed with a beaming Queen Timbo on them), but "the Royal Family are keeping a low profile" in the lead-up. Inside Buckingham Palace a toey Tim complains that he has ruined his tights climbing in through the window ("She said she'd leave a key under the mat!") and Graeme is annoyed that the Coronation will clash with a more important commitment of his ("Look, one's got an Olympic trial this afternoon at 3 o'clock and one is jolly well not going to miss it. One was not consulted when they fixed up this beastly Coronation, so stuff them!") As Tim struggles to fit into his tight bodice, Graeme reads out the Coronation Oath in the style of Pam Ayres ("… let the land be bedecked in red, white and green. Alright, yes I know that should have been blue, but I'm bored with this poem, so pfftt to you!") from the newly-appointed Poet Laureate, to which an unimpressed Tim orders "Off with her head!"
Bill enters to reveal that he was in fact the culprit anyway and he removes his cloak to reveal his own Coronation outfit as selected from Prince Charles' wardrobe – a red clown nose ("I found it in his bumper fun box, y'know!") and a tweed suit with a gaudy multicoloured patchwork shirt ("It's all his gear, mate!") – much to Tim's horror and displeasure. The Goodies enjoy themselves immensely as they greet the masses (with an ecstatic Tim finally perfecting the Royal wave, Graeme in his Olympic trial gear heaving an annoying corgi off the balcony, and Bill activating his spinning bow tie), but the real Royal family are far from amused as they watch this spectacle on TV from their hospital beds. The Royals realise that Tim really will be the Queen following the new Coronation ceremony (as Bill chuckles "That means they're out and we're in …!"), so they charge off out of the hospital ward and run to Buckingham Palace in their plaster and bandages to disrupt the Coronation ceremony.
A horrified Tim spots the Royal posse as they approach the palace gates, so he and his fellow Goodies climb over the palace fence (with Graeme still carrying the wooden Duke) and run past the cheering crowds to Westminster Abbey with the Royals in hot pursuit. Tim races into the Abbey (which only has paper cut-outs of choirboys and visiting political leaders due to "cutbacks to the economy") in undignified haste and tries to snatch the crown from the Archbishop, who dithers and "consults his colleagues" after an unprecedented objection to the Coronation by the bandaged Royals when they storm into the Abbey. Tim eventually grabs the crown and flees on horseback, as the Royals commandeer a coach and a cannon roars to start the race between the two parties. The Goodies successfully clear the first hurdle (although one of the Royals is dismounted by a lifting boomgate) but a steeplechase which features dummies of three British politicians proves to be a major hurdle for the riders, as Graeme comes a cropper on top of Margaret Thatcher when his horse baulks ("She's refused, and who could blame her!") The Duke also takes a tumble and Tim puts his ceremonial orb to good use as a hand grenade to dismount another Royal as Princess Graeme continues on his Olympic trial run as he mounts the Archbishop and gallops away!
Although Queen Tim uses his ceremonial sceptre to beat off another of the Royals ("She's dubbing him, she's dubbing him … and drubbing him!") and mounts the Princess to continue the race, his crown is stolen by the last remaining Royal on the coach, but Bill flaps his big ears and jacket, spins his propeller bow tie and launches himself above the crowd-lined streets to unhitch the horses from the coach. The runaway coach crashes into a barrier and sends the Royal sailing back through the window of his hospital ward, while the crown spirals up into the air and lands back on Tim's head as he sits disconsolately on a park bench. Tim is therefore the new Queen of England and poses for a Royal portrait (alongside Prince Bill and Princess Graeme), but he spares a thought for the former Royal Family as he ruefully comments "It's sad that they're out of a job." Bill dismissively replies "On, come on, they're not doing too bad" as he switches the TV on to catch the Goodies' "favourite program" -'The Royals', which features the former Royal family members trundling up the road aboard a four-seater trandem with training wheels!
* Tim (pompously): "These are the robes of an Earl"
Graeme: "Glad to be rid of them, I dare say!"
Tim: "I'm just trying them on, just in case. I may not end up an Earl, of course, but they're bound to give me something after our Royal Show. I'd be happy to be an OBE. Best of all, an Earl and an OBE."
Graeme (wryly): "You'd be an Earlobe!"
* Graeme (hosting the second variety show): "And who better to begin our return to the good old days than that paragon of perky patter and comical cantillation ... (loud murmurs from the crowd, but puzzlement from the Royal box) ... He sings and tells jokes Ma'am!"
* The Queen (bored with Rolf Harris's performance at the second show): "Off with his didgeridoo!!"
Tim: (reading the 'Royal Radio Times'): Look what they've done to the schedules! Showjumping, Horse of the Year Show, Horse of the Day Show, Horse of the Minute Show! ... Racing from Newmarket, Racing to Newmarket ...!"
Graeme: "Yeah, they're quite partial to horses, you know."
Tim (in disbelief): "You're telling me! Look, 7:00 Dad's Cavalry, 7:30 Rock Fillies, 8:00 Ponyrama with Dobbin Day ... ! Whatever's next?!"
* Tim (visiting the hospital): "Are (the Royal family) really cross, Bill?"
Bill: "Well put it this way. One is not amused. ... Two are bloody furious, and the other just wants Harry Secombe's autograph!"
* The grand entry to the Palladium by the Queen for the Royal Variety Show, with people cheering, waving flags, bowing and curtseying and presenting her with flowers along her red carpet entry, only for her to walk up the stairs and open the door to the gentlemen's loo, prompting rapid evasive action from a stunned Bill and Graeme (who were otherwise occupied spending a penny), with Graeme jamming his hand in the door as he hastily tries to slam it shut!
* The Royal family frequently dozing off due to a succession of appallingly boring acts (such as Val Doonican crooning 'Danny Boy' in his rocking chair, Mike Yarwood impersonating the Red Army Choir and "a host of jugglers and novelty acts on Bernard Delfont's books"), only to be awoken by Bill and Graeme trying every available method from tapping them on the shoulder and pelting them with fruit to firing guns and drenching them with water hoses in a bid to get them to pay attention.
* Graeme claiming that he is "not jealous" of the fancily-attired Tim possibly becoming an Earl; saying that "I like Earls" and crooning "Thank heavens for little Earls" before adding "Oh, that robe is very sexy!" and singing with a French accent "Earls are made to love and kiss … oh come on, give us a kiss!" Tim seems all set to oblige; replying "Why not?!" and singing "I'm just an Earl that can't say no!", forcing a worried Graeme to jump up on the desk to relative safety until a knock on the door stops things from getting any kinkier!
* The entire second Royal Variety show, with a packed audience of enthusiastic lords and ladies gleefully lapping up entertainment like in the "good old days", including Max Bygraves only having time to utter "I wanna tell you a story …" before rapidly disappearing from view through a trapdoor, and the "Antipodean apogee of artistic Apo deixis", Rolf Harris, having the Queen's decree of "Off with his didgeridoo!" carried out by Beefeater Bill wielding a huge spear to satisfy the audience's bloodlust after he has been boring them to tears with his wobbleboard-playing and singing of 'Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport'. Also "versatile vocalist" Rod Stewart "extending his repertoire" and his legs ("It's only rack and roll!") by performing 'I Am Stretching' on the torture rack, "four songbirds in harmony" Brotherhood Of Man singing 'Save All Your Kisses For Me' before being hoisted up into the air by nooses placed around their necks, and "time for culture" with ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev performing his rendition of the 'Nutcracker Suite' and Bill chasing him carrying an enormous set of nutcracking pliers (eventually followed by an agonised squeal from backstage!) Finally the "preposterous provocative politico and bumptious backbencher" Willie Hamilton being boiled in oil to the delight of the crowd who sing 'Happy Days Are Here Again', egged on by Graeme's classic over-the-top performance as Master of Ceremonies.
* The taking over of the BBC by the Royal Family, with their partiality to horse racing borne out by the TV schedule being filled with gems like 'Dad's Cavalry', 'Rock Fillies' and 'Ponyrama' with Dobbin Day. Also 'Stars On Sunday' coming from the Hickstead Equestrian Centre, with Moira Anderson singing 'Bless This Horse', followed by a loud "Damn!" when it fails to clear a jump correctly, and an honourable mention to Bill's suggestion that the Royal Family's new TV show should be called "Windsor Takes All"!
* The wonderfully humourous character portrayals of the Royals by the Goodies, with Tim making an elegantly bossy Queen (even if he just couldn't manage to get the "My husband and I" voice right!), Graeme doing a brilliantly haughty, horsey Princess Anne (with lines such as "But one always wears this hat!" and "See if one cares!" typical of his defiant attitude), and Bill as a cheeky, chucklesome Prince Charles ("Well it's the sort of thing he'd wear because he's funny" … "He's into wacky surrealist humour") with the added help of a crown with a huge pair of ears attached to it!
Ricky Newby, Terry Denton, Ernie Goodyear
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
A great first half, especially the two Royal Variety shows and accompanying celebrity bashing, however "one is not amused" nearly as much by the remainder of the show as the rather lengthy chase scene just doesn't have quite the same sparkle to it.
BLACK PUDDING RATING