The Cricklewood Japes: The Goodies

So it’s ta-ta Tim Brooke-Taylor, yet another victim of this Coronavirus holocaust that has forever changed our world.

The Goodies seemed to be everywhere in the 1970s, making household names of Tim and his fellow creators Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden. Indeed, the mischievous trio are often mentioned in the same sentence as Monty Python. Coexisting on television around the same time, both teams emerged largely from the fertile comic fields of Cambridge, trying out material in the fêted Footlights. And there was much cross-pollination between their members in the 1960s (At Last the 1948 Show, radio series I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, scripts for the ITV Doctor sitcom that spawned Fawlty Towers).

Considering the mass viewing figures the originals got in their day, it does seem strange that the pearl-clutchers at the BBC seem reluctant to splurge out on reruns of either series. But whereas every show of the Pythons is available on Netflix, not to mention umpteen movies and stage shows like the spooftastic Spamalot, the Goodies are airily dismissed as a product of the times, that must look incredibly dated now. Probably.

It’s kind of true that come the 1980s they were largely seen as gentlemanly old hat. Even Morecambe & Wise were being trounced in the ratings by ITV’s budget priced, budget talent version, Cannon & Ball.

Alas, thank heavens for YouTube, because until I went online this morning looking for a Goodie fix, the only things I had a vivid memory of were their opening titles: mainly the giant cat and dog, King Kong Kitten and an oversized version of Dougal from the Magic Roundabout, and of course, the Goodies theme tune.

One clip I did discover that I had completely forgotten about was Cricklewood. Cricklewood is the area where the far nicer West Hampstead, Willesden Green and Kilburn collide, and in the programme, the Goodies’ postal address was given as “The Goodies, No Fixed Abode, Cricklewood”.

I felt slightly embarrassed forgetting any of this considering my paternal grandparents lived in London NW2, a.k.a. Cricklewood at the time, having moved there with my teenage dad in the 1960s, one street away from Dusty Springfield’s birthplace no less. But I can guarantee there is zilch of the titular suburb in this film, more’s the pity.

It was a fairly quiet time in Cricklewood at the dawn of the Seventies. After the excesses of Flower Power from the previous decade, the 1970s started with a whimper, not a bang. If you were wandering through Cricklewood’s suburbs, you wouldn’t have seen a lot happening.

You could hear children bouncing up and down the streets on their spacehoppers, mums and dads speculating about decimalisation, and pensioners bemoaning the fact that daytime TV wouldn’t be invented for another decade. The 1970s hadn’t really arrived until those three young(ish) men moved into the area, and Cricklewood (and BBC TV) was never the same again.

This tumultuous trio, going by the names of Bill, Tim and Graeme had inherited a sum of money and decided to plough it into their new business venture – a company set up to help anyone, no matter what the job was, and calling themselves The Goodies. Their motto: “We do anything, anytime”.

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Capturing the irreverent and rebellious flavour of the decade, this phenomenally popular, award-winning series spread its mischief over twelve years, whereby the triumvirate unleashed their legendary blend of surreal storylines, strikingly topical satire, slapstick and general lunacy on an unsuspecting viewing public, subjecting the viewers to a plague of Rolf Harrises, rival Scout factions, the Ecky Thump craze (the martial arts for people from Northern England), and clown viruses to name but a few.

Maybe Auntie Beeb will rethink its reruns policy now? Miaow.

RIP TBT.

Steve Pafford

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