Graeme merrily decorates the Goodies' office on Christmas Eve (as he has fun operating a flashing angel perched at the top of the Christmas tree and then tears up a big wad of tissue paper before unfurling it as a lengthy paper chain), but just as he finishes, Bill careers in through the door on his new skateboard and sends the tree crashing unceremoniously to the floor. Bill cheekily says "Happy Christmas" as a peeved Graeme complains that only "somebody amazingly irresponsible" would have bought Bill a skateboard as a Christmas present, to which Bill smugly replies that he has bought it for himself (as a "tearaway youth expressing the frustrations of my generation. Speed, violence, destruction …!") Luckily Graeme has also bought himself a handy gift - a skateboard destruction kit - which is soon put to good use on Bill's new pride and joy, but despite this tit-for-tat exchange, they promise not to have any rows at Christmas time and Graeme prophetically states "I'm going to enjoy this Christmas if it's the last thing I do."
Bill and Graeme tune into the carol service on BBC Radio at 11.30 pm, but it is soon interrupted by an important announcement that "the world will end at 12 o'clock tonight". Graeme thinks that the message is a hoax, but it is announced that due to ever-worsening problems such as "inflation, overpopulation, racism and pollution", the world leaders have "come to the conclusion that there is no point in going on", and "in a final act of unprecedented international military cooperation, the world will be blown up". ("BBC Radio will be covering the event!") A stunned Graeme contends "Well that's a bit of a blow!", but Bill isn't too fussed initially as he dismissively notes that "Christmases come and go" and at least this one will be "a bit different". Graeme agrees that it will be different alright ("We'll all be dead!"), but Bill casually counters "Yeah well, you've never been dead before, have you?!"
Graeme makes a phone call to the insurance company ("You never know, it might be worth claiming!") but Bill has no desire to spend his last 28 minutes of life filling out claims forms and wants to go off and "do something interesting" (though a miffed Graeme replies "I find insurance jolly interesting!") as he had previously thought "I had a whole lifetime of boredom in front of me", but now he really has to make his remaining time on Earth count. In contrast, Graeme "needs time to think" about how he will fill in time until midnight and he shouts "You'll be back" as Bill charges headlong out the door. Bill returns almost immediately (with a contrite "I'm back") and Graeme lectures him about his indecent haste ("See, that's 20 seconds you've wasted by being impetuous!") and tells him that he should have "sat down for 1 minute and 40 seconds" so that he could have a "really well-planned final 25 minutes" (to which an annoyed Bill calls Graeme a "pedantic smug little git", only for Graeme to remind him that he has wasted "another 7 seconds" with his insult!)
Bill intends to fill in his final 25 minutes of life with an odyssey ("Oddie-sey, get it?!") of "self-gratification" which involves the fulfilment of his aspirations in the fields of sport ("I'm gonna skateboard to Wembley and bang in a hat-trick"), food ("while licking the chocolate off two dozen Mars Bars"), girls ("and pleasuring the entire female contingent of New Edition"), music ("sit in on a final reunion concert of the Beatles") and girls again (with "Jane Fonda, the Three Degrees and Ivy Benson's trumpet section!") Bill then declares that "I shall still have a couple of seconds left in which I'll taste one final sensual experience of unsurpassed kinkiness – holding hands with Doris Newbold!" (as he has "done everything else, but never held hands with her!") However Graeme is at a loose end and doesn't know what to do with his final 25 minutes as he has accomplished virtually every weird thing that a loony scientist can possibly achieve ("Giant kittens, monster cods, Eddie Waring impressions …!")
Bill doesn't particularly care about Graeme's plight and is ready to head out and have fun until Graeme pleadingly asks him "Who's going to tell Tim?" about the imminent end of the world. Bill reckons that Tim "probably already knows", but when Tim enters the room wearing a sandwich board with the slogan 'The End Of The World Is Nigh' written on it, as he has been out promoting his hot chestnut stall (with the additional even more nifty slogan of 'Tim's Nuts Are Nicest' for good measure!), Bill and Graeme realise that he is still blissfully unaware of the world's impending demise. Tim is incredibly excited about Christmas Eve ("the most wonderful, magical night of the year") and he "shall be awake all night … (to which an upset Bill mutters "You won't you know!") … listening for Santa's sleigh bells" (as Graeme rings a bell on the desk which causes Tim to excitedly gush "Sleigh bells!") and he hangs up his Christmas stocking ("But the question is, which one?" as he rifles through a drawer of assorted hosiery!) in preparation for Santa's arrival
Graeme simply can't bear to tell Tim the bad news ("Ah, bless him!"), but Bill is fed up with all of the mollycoddling and after he creates a chimney upon Tim's request (by smashing a very rough hole in the office wall with a sledgehammer) and commandeers the brandy ("But that wasn't me, no no no, that was Santa Claus!") and request letter that Tim has left out for Santa, he breaks the news of the end of the world to him in less-than-gentle fashion, which causes Tim to have a major panic attack. ("Where are my shiny shoes?! I want to die with my shiny shoes on! I'm a teapot! I'm a teapot ...!") Bill is fed up with these shenanigans and wants to go out and enjoy his final 20 minutes, but Tim begs him to come back for Christmas, which Graeme has brought forward to 11:56. Bill doesn't plan to come back if he is having fun, so the Goodies initially try to have Christmas before he goes (Bill: "Happy Christmas. Goodbye!" Tim: "That wasn't Christmas as I remember it!") and then reschedule it to 11:42, but miss it while Bill is on the phone (trying to "start on Jane Fonda"!) Graeme reschedules the next Christmas (1978) to 11:43, but Tim and Bill complain that they have missed their birthdays, which forces an increasingly frustrated Graeme to try to fit their birthdays in at half and three-quarter minute intervals. Another Christmas drifts past while the Goodies argue, which causes Graeme to forcefully declare that "at 11:56 will be Christmas" after all - for 1980!
Bill goes out briefly and leaves Tim and Graeme to contemplate their sins (or lack of, in Tim's case, as he struggles to recall any while Graeme sniggers away wickedly to himself and chortles "Ah, memories!") before he returns and acts as a priest to hear Tim's confessions of his feeble sins (such as forgetting to put the Christmas turkey in the oven), then tries to strangle him in a sinful fit of anger. Graeme objects to Bill being the "only person in here having any fun" (and has a turn at choking Tim too!) but then decides to devote "the rest of his life" (a whole 12 minutes!) to trying to cure Tim's inhibitions. Graeme wants to make Tim "into a new person" (as Bill remarks "Well, make him into Jane Fonda. Save me a taxi fare!"), but he needs Bill's help to "pare away the externals", namely Tim's Union Jack waistcoat, to find the underlying reason for Tim's problems.
After calls of "Doff the waistcoat, Timbo!" and "Hoist the flag!", it is revealed that Tim has a huge hangup about his belly button (even going to the lengths of covering it with a lacy A-string - "It's a G-string, but a little higher up!") so Graeme uses hypnosis and Bill dressed up as Tim's mother to regress Tim back to his childhood. However this makes Tim's shame and inhibitions about his belly button even worse, as Bill bears an uncanny resemblance to his mother (especially the bushy beard!) and revives awful memories of Tim being embarrassed that he didn't want to "let your old Mum scrape the fluff out of your belly button" or for her to attend "the big parade on Belly Button Sunday" because he was so ashamed of her appearance.
Bill exits the room in a less-than-joyous mood and Tim decides to spend his last eight minutes doing the ironing, as he laments that "it's the end for Derby County and the Muppets – oh I do hope they don't suffer!" Graeme incredulously points out that the Muppets are "just dollies" and shatters Tim's illusions of Kermit ("a green sock"), Miss Piggy ("a pair of y-fronts and a mop head"), Fozzie Bear ("a woollen jumper with a hat on") and others such as Waldorf and Statler with brilliant mimicry. This revelation is enough to send Tim berserk, and he charges at Graeme and flattens him with the stove in a fit of rage (with Graeme bellowing "You shouldn't have hit me with that! You've ruined the cake!" as he picks himself up after a spectacular tumble) although Graeme at least celebrates one final triumph ("It worked! I released his inhibitions through anger and violence. My work is at an end.") and can now "die a happy man".
Graeme calls Minicabs at 11:54 in a bid to join the revellers in Trafalgar Square (as news footage is shown of the Royal family blasting off in a rocket ship and big crowds flocking to the Harrods closing-down sale) but he won't be picked up for another ten minutes yet! Bill re-enters the office dressed unrecognisably in a fancy suit, tie and shiny shoes (and with his beard shaved off!) in an attempt to show Tim "the real me", which prompts a shocked Graeme to remark "You vicious swine!" Bill stuns Graeme even further when he points a razor at his luxurious mop of hair (to which Graeme cautions "That's virgin forest in there, mate. Don't go in without a guide!") and then lifts it off to reveal that he is really wearing a "long-haired Peruvian gerbil" to disguise a rather large bald patch on his pate. Bill confesses that the gerbil has been his "constant companion for many a long year", though Graeme had never suspected that Bill was a "closet Kojak" despite "the tin of Evo Stick on your dressing table, the little saucer of milk on your pillow and those little funny noises, all him." Bill concurs "Yes that's right; all except the little funny noises!" and also admits that he has had his "hair cut by the vet" for years too; but he is "not going out looking like this" for the final few minutes of his life and "just wants to be there with (Tim) at the end and be the mother that he never had".
However when Tim re-enters the office, he is completely cured of his inhibitions and shamelessly flaunts his belly button for all to see, much to Bill's dismay ("Cover up your nakedness!" … "Wash your mouth out!") The emboldened Tim declares "I am plain-speaking. I speak as I find, for example: 'Oi Baldy, you don't half look ugly now you've shaved your beard off, you dreary little wart!'"and after an offended Bill objects ("You sure know how to hurt a man!"), Tim gives him a knee to the groin to go on with. Tim is so uninhibited that he even tells a startled Graeme to "Stay loose, buggerlugs, four-eyes, ol' chihuahua chops!" and dismisses Graeme and Bill's desire to celebrate Christmas with a sour rant that concludes with "Season of good will? Hah! Good swill, more like!" as he skolls from a keg of beer.
The hostilities are temporarily put aside at 11.56 for a Christmas celebration, and all three Goodies sing a jolly medley of carols while they pluck piles of feathers from a shrunken turkey and perform the annual ritual of exchanging presents. Bill gets a present consisting of Tim's dirty socks which are "not to be sniffed at!" and no-one can think of anything nice to say about each other as the clock ticks down to the final few seconds before midnight. Tim and Bill cower under the table, only for Graeme to chuckle fiendishly as he approaches them ("To see your little faces … the world ends at midnight!"), as there is no big bang at midnight after all. Bill curses "You've played a silly joke, haven't you?!" (no doubt worried that his extreme makeover has all been in vain!), only for Graeme to reveal that he has merely put the clock forward by "about half a minute". Then, BOOM ... (and not even any credits afterwards!)
* Graeme (about filling in his final minutes): "But I've done everything. I mean, I'm not a creature of the flesh like you. I'm a loony scientist and I've done it all! Giant kittens ... monster cods ... Eddie Waring impressions ... !"
(does a babbling impersonation of Eddie)
Bill (looks at his watch): "Ten seconds, that took!"
Graeme: "It's not so easy for me!"
* Bill (angrily shouting at Tim): "But on the other hand, as you well know, tomorrow never comes and do you know why? Because, little dewy eyed Timbellina, tomorrow we'll all be dead! Dead, dead, D-E-D-D DEAD! Have you got that?!"
Graeme (understated): "You might have broken it to him gently!"
* Tim (deep in thought): "Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? We've got to stop and think about our sins."
Bill (impatiently): "I've already thought of mine. I just have to go and do them!"
* Graeme (to Bill, who is choking Tim): "Stop it!"
Bill: "I'll kill him!"
Graeme: "You'll get life imprisonment."
Bill (looks at clock): "Twelve minutes. Well worth it!"
Graeme: "What I resent is the fact that you're the only person in here having any fun."
Bill:" I don't call this fun."
Graeme (enthusiastically): "I do!"
(as he takes over strangling Tim!)
* Bill (lifting Tim's shirt):"Behold, the belly button"
Graeme (stunned at the sight of a lacy triangular cover): "And what is that?"
Tim (embarrassed): "It's an A-string."
Graeme (demandingly): "And what is an A-string?!"
Tim (embarrassed): "It's a G-string, but a little higher up!"
* Graeme: "Then there's aversion therapy, but I dunno, I've been put off that!"
* Tim (regressing to his childhood):"I want to be a hair artiste and become a credit to Brooke-Taylors".
Bill (posing as Tim's mother, annoyed): "Taylors lad, Taylors! That's t' family name! Don't give me any of your Brooke hyphen airy-fairy airs and graces, I mean, honestly that a son of mine could have turned out to be such a flaxen-haired, namby-pamby, niminy-piminy … oooh!"
(and a little later …)
Graeme (feeling guilty): "Stop it, stop it! Tim, that's not really your mother, it's Bill playing an irresponsible prank. Wake up, Tim, Tim, is that anything like your real mother?"
(Tim looks at Bill, who peeks out from the shawl with a silly look on his face)
Tim (upset):"Yes it is, it's just like her!"
Bill (shocked): "Eee!"
Tim: "The voice, the clothes, but above all, the beard! It was the beard that really used to shame me. All the lads used to pass remarks like: 'Hey Curly Tops … whose Mum's got jowl-to-jowl carpeting!' My young life was misery." … "It's not my fault I didn't grow up big, tough and hairy like my Mum!"
* Bill bowling over Graeme's carefully-decorated Christmas tree after a reckless ride through the door on his skateboard, only for Graeme to unveil an early present of his own - a skateboard destruction kit. Bill's skateboard gets unceremoniously smashed in half with a hammer, shot three times with a pistol, lobbed in a rubbish bin and finally detonated with an explosive charge, although Bill gets some small measure of revenge by using Graeme's pistol to pot a decorative bird on top of the Christmas cake shortly afterwards.
* Tim being incredibly soppy about the arrival of Christmas; listening for sleigh bells (to which Graeme and Bill both assist by ringing bells for him), putting out a glass of brandy (an early present for Bill!) and a note for Santa ("Ho ho ho, I see you want a Union Jack corset and your own personal Concorde!") and asking for a chimney, to which Bill obliges by violently bashing a hole in the wall with a sledgehammer ("Bill, you're rough, but you're kind.") Also Tim's initial disbelief when Bill breaks the news of the world's imminent end to him in extremely blunt fashion until he is shown a copy of the Radio Times that has blank pages for the program listings after December 24th, which causes him to scream and race about in a mad frenzy (even doing another famous "teapot" peformance) as Bill threatens "Stop that or you won't last until midnight!", only to then panic about doing the laundry because "I've got six dirty vests in there!"
* Tim and Graeme pausing to think about their sins, with Graeme smirking and chucking away over some very fond memories, while Tim sits there quietly and can't think of any at first. Bill goes out to commit a few more sins of his own before he returns and acts as a priest to hear Tim's "deeds of darkness" (after firstly phoning Jane Fonda and telling her to "keep your engine running!"), only to hear such lame sins from Tim as "He tucks his shirt inside his underpants" and "In the bath … little bubbles … that come up between your knees?! Come on, who doesn't?!", with a disbelieving Graeme adding "They're great big bubbles!"
* Graeme's attempts at curing Tim of his hangup over his belly button with expert help from Bill dressed up as Tim's old mother, complete with the same northern voice ("When are you going to leave that posh school 'ey, and get yourself a proper man's job down t'pit?!"), clothes and thick dark beard ('Hey Curly Tops … whose Mum's got jowl-to-jowl carpeting!') This is followed soon after by Graeme revealing to Tim that the Muppets are just items of laundry, with brilliant impersonations including Kermit the frog's nephew, Robin, singing "Half way down the staircase ...", which has the effect of causing Tim to completely flip his wig and overcome his inhibitions by hurling the stove at Graeme in anger.
* The fun and games and mass confusion caused by Graeme bringing Christmas forward to 11:42, missing it and rescheduling it for 11:43, with Tim and Bill complaining about not having their birthdays, leading to Christmas being missed again during all of the arguments about slotting birthdays in, and resulting in a decision to have Christmas (1980!) at 11:56, just before the world blows up.
* Bill revealing "the real me" - a dignified man of shiny shoes, smart suits, no facial fungus and a "closet Kojak" wearing a Peruvian gerbil (which Graeme even brings to life with a quick "Whoa, down boy!") as a toupee - only to be upstaged by a crass obnoxious Tim who returns with his belly button exposed through a gaping hole in his t-shirt and highlighted by arrows pointing to it. Tim has great delight in ridiculing Bill, kneeing him in the groin and giving his smelly socks as a Christmas gift ("No socks please, we're British!") after all three Goodies have belted out an enthusiastic medley of Christmas carols while plucking a mountain of feathers from a tiny Christmas turkey!
* Many cameo pieces of 'black humour', like Graeme considering claiming the end of the world on his insurance, Bill's final "oddie-sey of self-gratification" including a quick fling with Jane Fonda and licking the chocolate off two dozen Mars bars, Tim using his last few precious minutes to do the ironing, Graeme booking a cab to Trafalgar Square at 11.54 before realising that it would take 10 minutes to pick him up, and his final mean trick where he puts the clock forward half a minute so that it looks like they've all escaped the big bang!
MY 2 CENTS WORTH
Another of the classic 'trapped with nowhere to go' episodes filmed on the one set with only the three Goodies and no fancy visual effects or manic chase scenes; just half an hour of tremendously funny 'black comedy' and brilliant character portrayals.
BLACK PUDDING RATING