Goodie yum yum!

Being Radio 3, it was not sufficient to have Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke- Taylor and Bill Oddie on Free Thinking (Weekdays, 10pm) just to plug their new DVD box set of the Goodies. There had to be some higher intellectual purpose, and Matthew Sweet brought it along by suggesting that the show was a more accurate reflection of its time than most comedy shows and some current affairs programmes.

To be fair, it’s a thesis that stands up. Bill Oddie explained that they had what they called ‘the Panorama list’, containing controversial or serious topics of the day, all ready to be mined for comedy. And for a programme often regarded, wrongly, as a kids’ show, the Goodies didn’t shy away from much.

Most notable, perhaps, was 1975’s South Africa, in which the non-whites had given up and gone elsewhere, leaving the authorities needing a section of society to hate. This was resolved by turning the focus on short people in a new policy called ‘apartheight’. Oddie became the oppressed and subservient one.

This particular edition of the show is problematic now, the Goodies admit, because it used some language that would be off-limits now. However, the progressive intent is obvious, and the Great Garden had it right when he said that while people say you couldn’t make that show now, the answer is that you wouldn’t need to.

Over 45 minutes, Sweet, Garden, Brooke-Taylor and Oddie went over the history and pre-history of the show, back to their Footlights days, and it was a warm, fascinating listen for anyone who loves comedy. Oh, and it gave some long-overdue credit to oddie for the brilliant music he created for the show with Mike Gibbs and Dave Macrae. Oddie and Macrae's work on 1980’s Saturday Night Grease would fool even a Bee Gee.

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