Remembering the classic comedy team and their string of hit singles.
The death today of Tim Brooke-Taylor, another victim of the dreadful fucking Coronavirus, brings back joyous memories of childhood and an obsession with The Goodies, who were – are are – one of the most hilarious and anarchic comedy troupes ever assembled. It’s been said that The Goodies (Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie) were the gateway into Monty Python for many kids, and that’s true, but it also underestimates just how great they were. Not, as some have believed, a kids show, The Goodies was for many years a mid-evening ratings winner for the BBC – huge numbers tuned in to watch their ludicrous, episodic adventures that mixed chaos and silliness, often ribbing on current trends. These were spectacular shows, full of slapstick and satire, edgy enough for kids watching to think that they were seeing something a bit naughty, but wholesome enough for all the family to enjoy.
The Goodies is the only show known to have actually caused someone to die laughing – a man who keeled over during the legendary Kung Fu Kapers episode, where the world was introduced to the Yorkshire martial art of Ecky Thump. As a kid, I bust a gut laughing at the MCC vs Rollerball in 2001 and a Bit, and many other classic moments. That the BBC chose to effectively bury the series in later years, embarrassed that its apparently unsophisticated humour wasn’t the sort of thing that the middle classes might enjoy, is shameful.
As well as the TV show, The Goodies had a string of hit novelty songs. Their track The Funky Gibbon reached number four in the UK charts, and was the first single your Reprobate editor ever bought. It was backed by the gloriously tasteless Sick Man Blues, which appalled my mother and so became one of my favourite childhood songs. Other hits included the wonderfully inappropriate singalong Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me, and they had enough hits to justify a 1976 TV concert special, The Goodies – Almost Live.
The Goodies broke up in 1982, after an unsuccessful move to ITV for a final series. But they deserve to be remembered as one of the great comedy teams from the golden age of British TV. Here’s a selection of their musical classics.