Anything, Anytime, Anywhere – The Goodies

The Goodies, at least according to its fans, is the greatest forgotten TV comedy classic of the seventies. That’s arguable, I suppose, but it was long lasting (through the seventies and the early eighties), featured some of the most famous names in British comedy (Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke Taylor and Bill Oddie) and managed to be made by two separate TV networks (BBC and later London Weekend TV). It won numerous awards over the years, including a prestigious Montreux award. So it is quite strange that it’s been forgotten.

The programme was about three men – played by Garden, Brooke Taylor and Oddie – who are prepared to help out anytime, anyplace, anywhere. No job too big or small. What took the series above your average sit-com was its regular lurches into the surreal.

Earthanasia – Bill’s helping Tim get in touch with himself! One episode which is consistently popular with fans, judging from their pages on the Web, is “Earthanasia,” in which it’s decided that the easiest way to solve the world’s problems is to end it. The programme revolves around how the three main characters and how they cope with impending doom. There is one static set. There are no guest stars. There are no trick special effects (though the series did plenty of those). The programme works because of tightly written, funny dialogue, and because of the characters of the three stars.

‘The Goodies’ was overshadowed for much of the early part of its run by the seminal ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ (and indeed came from the same Oxford/Cambridge stable – the Goodies were all cast members from the BBC radio series “I’m Sorry, I’ll Read that Again”, which featured a certain John Cleese). In some ways, The Goodies was more approachable than Monty Python, in that it had a discernible plot and regular characters. Monty Python was frequently more outrageous, because of its sketch-based format. However, the Goodies was also more even, in terms of content and quality. Watching old episodes of Monty Python now makes you realise that the gems were interspersed with material that was significantly less funny.

The series transferred to London Weekend, and independent British TV company, after the Goodies themselves felt the BBC neither appreciated them, nor was willing to keep the budget high enough to maintain the show’s quality. (Trivia fans – the money that the BBC had allocated to The Goodies was going spare after they transferred to LWT… and so the BBC decided to make a NEW series with it – which was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So every cloud, etc etc.)

But the grass wasn’t greener, and after a couple of series, The Goodies faded from the screen forever.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.