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Interview: Tim Brooke-Taylor & Graeme Garden - The Goodies

Interview with Tim Brooke-Taylor & Graeme Garden
Creators and Stars of Cult UK Comedy The Goodies

Interview By Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden : The Goodies

The Goodies (Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden) with Sean Lynch at World's Funniest Island 2009

Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden : The Goodies

The Goodies : Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden

the goodies

Tim Brooke-Taylor in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

the goodies

Tim Brooke-Taylor teamed up with Python's John Cleese and Graham Chapman on At Last The 1948 Show

The Goodies are one of the few iconic names you can mention in the same breath as Monty Pythons Flying Circus and Blackadder, shows which pioneered comedic style, broke ground and paved the way for a new generation of comedians.

Web Wombat's resident comedy nerd, Sean Lynch, caught up with his comedy heroes Tim-Brooke Taylor ("The Patriotic One") and Graeme Garden ("The Looney Scientist") to talk comedy history, Willy Wonka and "Pulling Shapes" as they embark on Sydney's Worlds Funniest Island festival.

Almost thirty years on, is it hard to look back and re-live some of those classic moments?

Tim Brooke-Taylor: It's actually quite fun because in doing research for these [Worlds Funniest Island] shows, we're actually watching episodes we haven't seen in many years.

They haven't repeated them in England, so we've never had copies of them.

So we rely on Australia to tell us what we did, basically [Laughs].

Comedians always have personal favourite gags they've written and always find hilarious (even if they are the only ones who think so).

In your research, did you find any gags where you thought "Wow... That's a really good f**king joke"?

Graeme Garden : [Laughs] Well it's hard to say. The trouble is, people in Australia have seen the show much more than we have - so we've forgotten half the gags we did [Laughs].

TBT: If you remember, we used to do some very elaborate visual things, and we used to call them "So What?" sequences.

Because what would happen is we'd film these very big, expensive elaborate gags... and [you could just feel] people around the country were thinking "Yeah, So What?" [Laughs].

Whereas you'd do one throw away verbal thing, and everybody would laugh...

What about your work before and after The Goodies, were there any skits that never quite made it or didn't work but you loved?

TBT: There has been hundreds... [Laughs]

GG: Almost all of them didn't go as well as we'd hoped [Laughs], so I wouldn't like to single one out... you try and forget the failures [Laughs].

The Goodies has always been a major comedy influence on me, but for some reason, I think I'll remember Tim just as vividly and fondly for your brief scene in the original Willy Wonka movie.

Are there any moments of your career you wish to be remembered for - and are there moments where you thought "I kind of wish I'd never done that"...

There are lots of "Kinda-Wish-I-Hadn't-Have-Dones", in fact, there is far too many of them [Laughs].

There are some sorts of live shows I did in the 1980s where suddenly green liquid was on your head - and it's supposed fun - but you think to yourself : "Why am I doing this?" [Laughs].

Graeme, I saw some footage of you on Top Of The Pops in the 1970s - and you look like the unhappiest man on earth, like you'd prefer to be in Auswich...

GG: Yeah, I know that's what it looks like - but in fact - I was just holding back on my funky disco moves.

I didn't want to throw shapes and show up the other guys [Laughs].

TBT: I remember doing an episode of One Foot In The Grave where Victor Meldrew tries to look as if he's not there - and that's basically what Graeme looked like on Top Of The Pops... [Putting on Graeme Voice] "I'm Not Here" [Laughs].

You're working with The Chaser's Andrew Hansen at World's Funniest Island - what's your take on the current crop of comedy... What do you hate, what's crap?

Of comedy?

TBT: We haven't got that long, have we? [Laughs]

GG: Well... [in Posh English Accent] That would be un-gallantry, really, to say anything like that...

TBT: What I think is interesting about The Chaser is that if someone described it to me I would say "I wouldn't like that", because they are making fun of people.

But in fact, they've always had really good points and the people they're making fun of deserve it.

GG: Until we saw the [World's Funniest Island] audience here, we thought this was the most elaborate Chaser prank you could imagine...

Well that was really quite a big crowd today...

TBT: Just say it was really Massive... [Laughs]

[Laughs] Positively ENORMOUS! Does that sort of blow your mind that the show can still generate this much interest?

We were surprised and delighted to see that many people. We thought we'd maybe fill the chairs, but there were people standing up the back, it was amazing.

And you almost gave this up in favour of attending Monty Python's 40th Anniversary party in New York?

I genuinely got an email from Eric Idle asking me to come over, and I said I couldn't because I was going to be in Sydney.

Now, I don't know if you've seen a sketch I co-wrote called "The Four Yorkshiremen" [from At Last The 1948 Show] where Graham Chapman times the word "Luxury" absolutely perfect. But in the return email, Eric just wrote "Luxury".

And I know Eric Idle would prefer to be here with us... although he quite likes the money he's earning in New York [Laughs].

Comedy Writing nerds will remember the infamous "Written By Graeme Garden & Bill Oddie with Tim Brooke-Taylor" credits, what was the process with that?

Who wrote what - did you all have particular strengths or weaknesses (studio dialogue or silent filmed pieces)?

GG: We would start the writing process with all three of us getting together to go through lists of topics and people and things we'd like to make fun of, or thought would make a good area for a plot.

Then we'd mix it all up and have two or three things: we didn't like circus clowns, we didn't like the American army, we didn't like pollution. So we'd mix it all up into this crazy mix.

Then Bill and I would map out the show into two halves and we would then take it away and write half each, then get together and stitch it together in the middle somewhere... use a commericial if all else fails [Laughs].

Newspapers and The Internet spread all kinds of celebrity rumours and myths by misinterpreting interviews.

If you could start your own rumour or "Richard Gere Gerbil" style myth about yourselves... which you will be remembered for the rest of time for... What would it be?

GG: What I just told you about Top Of The Pops... [Laughs]

... And what about you Tim?

TBT: That I am Bugs Bunny's father... [Laughs]

THE GOODIES is out now on DVD and are appearing at the WORLD'S FUNNIEST ISLAND FESTIVAL 2009

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