My fascination with old television programmes started young, as our old television still had a vhs player attached, and we still had a decent collection of tapes for me to sift through. At the time I was only small so the cartoons always appealed to me, I watched a lot of Danger Mouse and Stoppit and Tidyup, Trapdoor and Count Duckula. And my interest grew past just what we had available on tape, I became enthralled with the soft textures and the seemingly alternate universe these shows were created in. Totally different yet comfortingly similar to the world I grew up in.
My parents had and still have many old TV shows on DVD, and that includes a show called The Goodies. Starting in 1970, it ran alongside Monty Python and the writers were all good friends. Just a wacky comedy show with some ground-breaking for the time special effects, episode plots based entirely on props they found in the BBC archives and a lot of slapstick.
It had been an issue for a long while that episodes were hard to come by, this is no longer the case, but at the time we had the only two DVDs to have been released, 13 episodes in total. 13 out of 76, mind you. Either way I watched them a lot, and my brothers watched them a lot. We know those 13 episodes off by heart, as well as all the bonus content. It was a big part of my childhood and I still hold it dear.
One of the main trio in the show was a man called Tim Brooke-Taylor, who played the “upper-class” guy in the trio, (Graeme Garden playing the middle-class, and Bill Oddie playing the working-class) who usually ended up being the one suffering the most due to his mild, repressed and trusting nature. He played the role pretty damn perfectly, rather sympathetic but never enough to stop the slapstick from being amusing.
The man himself started out like many great comics of the time in the Cambridge Footlights, where he met Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, his future work partners, as well as future Monty Python members, including John Cleese. He was responsible for helping write the The Four Yorkshiremen sketch, which later became a Monty Python staple.
He had a long, successful career as a comedian, but was best remembered by most, and by me, for his role in The Goodies. And that is for what I shall continue to remember him for, the entertainment and happiness he brought me and my family.
He died today, age 79, after contracting coronavirus.
It’s a strange feeling, really. Not someone I know personally on any level, but still a character I grew up with.
Remember to wash your hands, lads.