Remembering Tim Brooke-Taylor and 'The Goodies' - Press "Enter" to skip to content

Remembering Tim Brooke-Taylor and ‘The Goodies’

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Coronavirus is now claiming so many lives that The Times has had to reassign some of its reporters to help on the obituaries desk. It feels to me like every day, another cultural figure who has touched my life in some profound way is lost to the virus.

Last week, it was the musician John Prine, who was supposed to be touring Australia this month. This week, the death that hurt the most was the British comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Mr. Brooke-Taylor was one third of the comedy group The Goodies, along with Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. The group had an eponymous television show that ran for a decade on the BBC in Britain (from 1970 to 1980), and played on endless reruns on the ABC in Australia throughout the afternoons of my childhood.

The show was ridiculous and surreal and hilarious, and Tim Brooke-Taylor in particular made a huge impact on my young mind. His wildly emotional British patriotism and devotion to the Queen has helped to inspire a lifelong tongue-in-cheek adoration of Her Majesty in my own life and household, which now contains a large collection of vintage royal memorabilia.

The Goodies helped to define the comedic sensibilities of at least one generation of Australians and New Zealanders. The show never had heavy rerun rotation in the U.K., but it was replayed in Australia (and in New Zealand) throughout the 1980s, so much so that I knew some episodes almost by heart.

One of the oddest things about moving from one country to another on the cusp of adulthood is trying to navigate a social space in which all of your cultural references mean nothing to your peers. This was the case for me when I moved from Australia to the United States as a teenager in the early 1990s. I remember trying to interest new friends in musicians and television shows and movies that formed me, to no avail.

I wanted to explain to them the deep impact of Paul Kelly and Monkey Magic and The Goodies. For the latter, I even had a very particular argument.

“If Monty Python represents the best of British comedic sensibility for adults, and the same is true of The Young Ones for teenagers, then The Goodies was the show for kids that filled that space,” I’d say, before regaling them about the details of the show in which a giant fluffy kitten ravaged London. (This analysis was not quite accurate — as it turns out, The Goodies on the ABC was edited to be child-appropriate.)

There was no Google back then, no YouTube, no way for me to actually show anyone in America the silly wonderful humor that raised me. Which is a shame. My smart, funny new friends would have loved The Goodies. I still do. And like so many others, I mourn their loss.


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