Weekend Viewing: THE GOODIES


I have to admit I didn’t know much about The Goodies until it was brought up in comments. It was apparently shown on PBS, but I don’t think it’s as well-known, trans-Atlantically, as Monty Python’s Flying Circus, by which The Goodies is influenced, or The Young Ones, which seems to have been influenced by The Goodies.

The story of the series, which ran for years on the BBC and for one final season on ITV (yes, they have network switches in England too), is that there are these three idiots who will do anything for money. In every episode they either take a surreal job, or a conventional job that turns surreal. In this episode, “Cecily,” from the first series, they get a babysitting job that turns into a parody of every Victorian-governess story ever written. Like The Young Ones and other later shows, the format of the show allows for a fusion of sketch comedy and sitcom: we have continuing characters and relationships among them, but because there is no pretense to realism and no consequences from episode to episode, it allows every episode to be a completely self-contained half-hour sketch. (It also allows for plenty of digs at the conventions of sitcoms, like the joke early on about one-sided telephone conversations where a character repeats everything that’s being said to him.)

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Weekend Viewing: THE GOODIES

  1. The Goodies was actually shown on the C.B.C. in southern Ontario/Toronto after school some time in the late 70s or early 80s.

  2. I watched it on CBC in northern Ontario in the 70’s. Favouite episode: The Goodies are in prison and one is slagging the place, calling it dirty etc. and the other stops him saying, “Take that back, you can’t say that, this is Her Majesty’s Prison!”

  3. Thanks for covering this.

    The Goodies are virtually forgotten even in Britain, but are very well remembered in Australia, where they were heavily repeated for many years.

    The early episodes don’t give a great sense for how strange this series got. It was wildly uneven, but some of the better episodes are brilliant. I’d recommend you seek out “Scoutrageous” (in which the scout movement goes to war with the Salvation Army, Navy and Air Force) or the movie pastiche episode “Movies.” Both episodes are on the DVD releases, but I’m not sure how many territories those got to.

  4. If you like The Goodies you might also enjoy “I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again,” a radio program that ran on the BBC from 1964 to 1973. It predates both The Goodies and Monty Python and the cast included the three Goodies (Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie) as well as John Cleese. Graham Chapman was one of the writers. BBC7 is running repeats of ISIRTA and you can hear it in the Listen Again section of the BBC7 website.

    The Goodies were also founding cast members on “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” a comedy/panel game which has run continuously on BBC radio from 1972 to the present. Bill Oddie left the show in ’74 after the second series, but Brooke-Taylor and Garden are still on it.

  5. I first ran across The Goodies when it was syndicated in the states in the late 1970’s, after Monty Python had become a cult hit. I loved the show, which means I laughed like a moron at it and made it anathema to my parents. Fortunately for them, but not for me, it wasn’t even a cult hit here, and it quickly disappeared. Which means I had to wait for You Tube to see Bill Oddie’s brilliant “Football Hooligan” sketch.

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