February 2006

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Robert takes time out to bring us some Goodie News.

February 2006

January is always a funny old month. It’s a bit of a drag after the fun and frolics of Christmas and television schedulers all seem to be steadying their loins for the big Spring season. Still, this year we have had the absolute revelation that is Life on Mars. It’s the by far the best popular BBC drama until a certain other show re-appears…and I can’t get enough of it. John Simm, Philip Glenister and references to Carry On Girls. Come on! What’s not to like!!

And talking of which, my Dr Who Big Finish play Pier Pressure was plugged with a totally enjoyable signing at Tenth Planet, Barking on 28 January. I was joined by that total gent of horror, Doug Bradley, and – glad to say – the chills and the laughs I remember hearing the excellent cast generate at the recording have survived the editing and packaging to create a very satisfactory romp…even if I do say so myself. Because, frankly no one else will!

My January has also been packed to the rafters with classic television gleaned from the Play.com sale I mentioned last time. The gem so far has been a long over-due re acquaintance with Richard Carpenter’s joyous The Ghosts of Motley Hall. I have vivid memories of seeing this, presumably on its first broadcast, from 1976 until 1978. I was certainly at the age – five and a bit at the start – to fall in love with the spoofs and spooks of the show, but you tend to under estimate the sublime comic acting at that tender age. I have delighted in Arthur English as the medieval fool Bodkin and the glorious Freddie Jones as the bumptious Sir George Uproar but, perhaps, best of all is the totally in control panic of Peter Sallis as the nervous, living landlord, Gudgin. I remember when I was writing the official BBC book on Last of the Summer Wine in 1999 that Peter told me since starting in the show – from the beginning – in 1972, he had done little else. “Good God!” he exclaimed “if it wasn’t for Summer Wine I could have been an actor!” Well, he certainly proves himself in Motley Hall. Superb stuff and highly recommended.

My January has also been packed with researching, re-watching and re-writing about one of my all-time favourite shows, The Goodies. Although my Complete Goodies book covered everything the trio did together and apart I have recently been commissioned to write another book dedicated to the Cricklewood comic legends. And it IS going be new stuff! Tentatively entitled The Goodies Story, it will relate the history of the team through the memories of Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie. I’ve been up to my grateful eyes in black puddings, giant beanstalks and funky gibbons and I love it. It really is THE show of British television comedy. I’m honoured to be championing it once again.

It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Henry McGee. He was the favourite guest villain of the Goodies; being called back to recreate his lip-smacking role as the Music Master. Passing away on Saturday 28 January at the age of 76 Henry leaves behind a vast legacy of comedy work. Nicknamed ‘SS’ or ‘Super Stooge’ by Benny Hill, he was the perfect straight man. Memorable cameos in films from The Italian Job to Carry On Emmannuelle, the pedantic Mr Pugh opposite Charlie Drake in The Worker and Sugar Puff adverts with the Honey Monster remain undimmed. He was a lovely, unassuming chap…rest in peace Henry.

Well that’s about it for this month. I’m sticking my nose back in to my lap top…I’ve got another Dr Who play on the cards and a ton of comedy assignments that need a little bit of my attention as well!

See you all in Swindon at the end of March…it’s not long now you know…and in the mean time, keep laughing and keep ‘em peeled!

Robert Ross

Page Last Updated Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 17:39:10