Hi all. It’s not usually my format to throw away the remit of writing about travel, but this week the world lost a great comedian, a gentle soul, in the British actor/comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor. Tim Brooke-Taylor is primarily known to me and indeed much of Australia as one third of the comedy trio ‘The Goodies’ who had their own TV Show from 1970 into the early 80s.
Tim, along with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie form a group of three who go into business together with their motto being they do ‘Anything, Anytime’. It’s a show that incorporates a lot of farce and slapstick, and is born from the Cambridge Footlights, a group from Cambridge which I believe still runs today. Yes – ‘The Goodies’ are British, not Australian. But the show ran over and over here. It took an afternoon slot on the ABC through the 1980s and so many kids who grew up over that time had it as a standard TV staple. We would go into school each day talking about the previous afternoon’s episode. I remember clearly one day in Grade Six coming in to notice that everyone was singing the ‘String’ song – ‘String, string, string, string, everybody loves string!’ – you probably had to be there.
The episode ‘It might as well be String’ followed the common Goodie’s format of starting from somewhere strange (the Goodies were suddenly advertising executives), taking the idea of selling string as a product to the nation. By the second half Tim was fighting Bill and Graeme who had gone rogue, ending in a long filmed sequence featuring a lot of physical comedy culminating in a grand finish.
And the thing about this show is, although it was shown in a kids’ timeslot, it quite clearly was never a kids’ show. The ABC cut quite a bit from the episodes because I think they saw that kids’ loved the physical humour, but when you see the episodes, in full on DVD these days, well, it is clear this is no show for children!
Tim Brooke-Taylor was in fact the President of the Cambridge Footlight’s back in the 1960s. Not only did audition the likes of Graeme Garden (who he would form the Goodies with) for the company, but the company at the time included a number of Monty Python members – including John Cleese who gave tribute to Tim earlier this week.
Tim found himself in a show called ‘At Last the 1948 Show’ alongside Python’s Graham Chapman and John Cleese. He moved on to ‘Broaden Your Mind’ a little later with Graeme and Bill (1967-68), both of these comedy sketch shows. I have no doubt that somewhere in an alternate universe Tim was a member of the Monty Python team.
It was 1970s when Tim, Graeme and Bill got together to form ‘The Goodies’ (a series that was nearly called ‘Super Chaps Three’ which may not have proven so popular) and hilarity prevailed. The show changes and develops and becomes more clever and political as it goes on. The three Goodies were given different roles, Bill was ‘working class’, whilst Graeme was the technical ‘boffin’. Tim was cast as the upper class chap of the three, a fierce royalist who wore a union-jack waist coat and loved making speeches.
But somehow you knew that the views of the character were not Tim’s views of the world. It was this mix of three different personality types that created conflict and ultimately made ‘The Goodies’ work so well.
In a time where cross-dressing for the sake of comedy seemed to be all the rage, Tim never seemed to miss the chance to get in a dress. Whatever they (Bill and Graeme were the principal writers, with Tim only have occasional creative contribution) asked Tim to do, he was more than happy to do and he got hurt a number of times on the show. Tim immortalised the phrase ‘I’m a teapot’ – a go to position whenever his character (also called Tim, the Goodies all went by their real names in the show itself) whenever he was going potty.
There was something about Tim that was just so endearing. From the regular frocking up, to trying to dance with girls at the disco in a piss-take of ‘Grease’, to his love of the Queen, and the fact that in ‘The Goodies’ he always talked of getting an OBE – and in the end he did get one.
People who met him – and I really wish I had – said he was kind and generous. After ‘The Goodies’ he starred for seven seasons alongside Richard O’Sullivan in a show called ‘Me and My Gal’. Since the 1960s he, along with his fellow Goodies, starred on radio panel shows, in particular ‘I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again’ and ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ over decades and decades – I think he was still a regular earlier this year. Over 50 years of regular appearances.
Tim was incredibly silly, incredibly funny, and the sort of person this world needs more of. I don’t usually (or ever) use this blog for a post like this, but I have been pretty overcome at the news of his passing this week that I really needed to write something. So, I thank you for indulging me because sometimes a public figure/actor can mean an awful lot to you through your life, and sometimes you don’t even realise it.
Tim passed away at the age of 79, with Corona Virus.
Thanks again. May the Journey Never End.