40 years ago today, 'Tower Of London' - the first episode of 'The Goodies' - was broadcast. I missed it unfortunately ( down here in the valleys, nobody could pick up B.B.C.-2, so we had to wait several months for a B.B.C.-1 repeat! ). I've already reviewed it so thought I'd mark the anniversary with a few comments about 'It Might As Well Be String' from Season 6. A favourite feature of mine in the first few runs was the spoof commercials. In one or two cases they were the highlight of the programme. 'String' opens with a spoof of an advert for Bold washing powder, with Bill playing 'Joe', an aggressive salesman who beats up a housewife when she refuses to use the product. The real 'Joe' was in fact comedian Joe Baker, who at one time was part of a double act with Jack Douglas and emigrated to America in the '70's. Then we see Graeme as 'Captain Fishface' ( alright, its Captain Birdseye really ) feeding children on a boat while a Tim voice-over issues a ransom demand. The Goodies are running an advertising agency, and these new adverts are Bill and Graeme's work. Tim objects to the hard-sell, and Graeme responds by saying that all advertising is a con and the public know it. But Tim has his way and suddenly the adverts are truthful for once. Sales plummet, so they look around for a new product to market. They settle on string...
When Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney tried to send up advertising in their 1980 series 'Watch This Space', 'Sun' television critic Margaret Forwood pointed out that 'The Goodies' had done it earlier and better. The idea of marketing string as though it were a brand new product is a good one and Graeme and Bill get much comic mileage out of it. There is a lovely parody of 'Tomorrow's World', the B.B.C.'s long-running science series hosted ( originally ) by the late Raymond Baxter, who appears here in string vest and pants. Everything in the studio is made from string. As he talks to camera, the place collapses around him. Images from commercials of the day, such as the giant tin of Dulux paint and the Milk Tray man, are put to comic effect.
Things To Watch Out For - Valerie Leon, the 'Hi Karate' after-shave woman, in a cameo. After Tim is squirted with 'Kung Poo', she bursts through a door, panting with desire. No nooky for Tim though. Instead she delivers a couple of karate chops before departing!
Bill mentions 'The Incredible Hulk'. In 1976, the character only existed in comics and a television cartoon. The Bill Bixby series was two years away.
Funniest moment - Graeme and Bill singing 'Everybody Loves String!' while Tim ( literally ) tries to get them off the television screen by pushing the picture out of the frame. But back they come, still trilling 'string, string, string, everybody loves string!". As the end credits roll, we see them in reverse - because we are now in the television set while the Goodies watch us! Amazing stuff.
Happy 40th anniversary fellers!
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