Apr 122020

Tim Brooke-Taylor

17 July 1940   –   12 April 2020

Tim Brooke-Taylor, who has died aged 79 of coronavirus, was one of those Oxbridge graduates who brought surreal, anarchic humour first to the stage, then television, where he was one of the trio adding slapstick to the mix in The Goodies.

Typical of the humour of The Goodies was a medieval vasectomy sketch with Brooke-Taylor standing in a park, back to the camera and trousers around his ankles, while a knight on a charger rushes him with a lance aimed at the appropriate area. He once reflected: “There are moments when I’m standing in the middle of some high street dressed as a rabbit and I say to myself, ‘I’ve not only got a degree, but I’m an honorary doctor of laws. Doctor Tim Brooke-Taylor. What am I doing hopping down this high street in floppy ears and a furry tail?’”~~~~With his fellow Cambridge graduates Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, Brooke-Taylor created The Goodies, which ran on the BBC for 10 years from 1970 to 1980. All three wrote the scripts at the start, while in later years they were provided by Garden and Oddie. ITV revived the show with a 1981 Christmas special and a six-part series the following year. Cartoon-style humour came from the three contrasting characters portrayed on screen – the pompous Brooke-Taylor, the professorial Garden and the untidy but raffish Oddie.

The programme was most striking for its sight gags – such as Brooke-Taylor, dressed as an Edwardian nanny, falling into a river – with significant location filming and special effects. “Our pre-production meetings with the art designers and production designers were almost more important than the writing of the scripts,” he revealed.~~~~A cat toppling over the Post Office Tower in London was the centrepiece of the Kitten Kong episode, which won the Silver Rose at the 1972 Montreux television festival. Three years later, the same award went to a Goodies show paying homage to the silent film greats that included Brooke-Taylor grappling with a lion.

Nevertheless, radio was the medium where Brooke-Taylor made his most enduring contribution to comedy. He was a panellist and occasional writer throughout all nine series of BBC Radio’s anarchic, revue-style sketch show I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again (1964-73), a cocktail of silly voices, awful puns and smutty humour. Alongside Garden and Oddie, as well as others including John Cleese, Jo Kendall and David Hatch, Brooke-Taylor was most memorable as the screeching Lady Constance de Coverlet, an ageing dowager reputed for her size, variously heard in the guise of Anne of Cleavage or an elephant in a parody of the TV adventure Daktari.

The show was spun off into the even longer-running I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, a parody of panel games, with those taking part given “silly things to do” and Brooke-Taylor ever-present from its launch in 1972 until his death. It became one of BBC Radio 4’s most popular programmes and the original presenter, Humphrey Lyttelton, described him as “prone to argue with the chairman, slightly vulnerable, perspires a lot, a favourite with the crowd”.

Tim was born in Buxton, Derbyshire, to Rachel (nee Pawson), a former games teacher at Cheltenham Ladies’ college who played lacrosse at international level, and Edward Brooke-Taylor, a solicitor and veteran of the first world war, who won the Military Cross for gallantry and was then a home guard commander during the second world war.

Following the death of his father when he was 12, Tim attended Winchester college, then spent a year teaching at schools in Hertfordshire and Derbyshire before gaining a law degree from Pembroke College, Cambridge. He joined the university’s Footlights drama club in 1960, performing alongside his fellow students Oddie, Cleese and Graham Chapman. He was Footlights president when A Clump of Plinths, its 1963 revue for the Edinburgh festival, transferred to the West End, retitled Cambridge Circus, then in 1964 to Broadway.

Just as Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore found a path into television satire following the success of their revue Beyond the Fringe, an Oxford-Cambridge collaboration, Brooke-Taylor headed for BBC radio, joining I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.

No BBC television opportunities were immediately presented to him, so in 1965 he joined ITV’s topical consumer affairs show On the Braden Beat, parodying a rightwing business executive in satirical sketches. He then joined the scriptwriting team – along with Oddie and most of the future Monty Python members – on David Frost’s BBC satirical show The Frost Report (1966-67), then was both a writer and performer in two comedy series starring Marty Feldman – At Last the 1948 Show (1967) and Marty (1968-69).

Broaden Your Mind (1968-69) was a sketch show that proved to be the precursor to The Goodies. Brooke-Taylor and Garden created it, and were joined in the second series by Oddie. Brooke-Taylor, John Junkin and Barry Cryer also wrote and starred in the BBC Radio 2 sketch show Hello Cheeky (1973-79), but their 1976 TV version was less successful.

Sitcoms extended Brooke-Taylor’s career beyond such programmes. After taking a supporting role as the neighbour Toby Burgess in His and Hers (1970-72), he teamed up with Junkin to script and star as two flatmates on the look out for women in the 1971 pilot The Rough With the Smooth, followed by a 1975 series.

In Me and My Girl (1984-88), he played Derek Yates, supporting his widowed best friend and ad agency partner Simon Harrap (Richard O’Sullivan) in bringing up a teenage daughter. He then starred in You Must Be the Husband (1987-88) as Tom Hammond, coming to terms with the success his wife, Alice (Diane Keen), finds in writing a racy romantic novel.

Bolstered by Oddie’s musical skills, the Goodies had a string of chart singles, including the Top 10 hits The Inbetweenies/Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me (1974) and The Funky Gibbon/Sick Man Blues (1975), both double A-sides. They also voiced the superhero cartoon TV series Bananaman (1983-88).

Brooke-Taylor was appointed OBE in 2011. He is survived by his wife, Christine (nee Wheadon), whom he married in 1968, and their sons, Ben and Edward.


Apr 102020

On This Day

BORN - April 10

On This Day Audrey Whitby

Apr 042020

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend


PLOTEthan (Christopher Gorham) is a struggling writer who rushes to his girlfriend’s house only to be told by her roommate that she has left for the airport. There and moments later, they are reunited and embrace. It is revealed to be an excerpt from Ethan’s latest written work. His agent (Carol Kane), upon finishing the novel, informs him that it is “unrealistic” and will not be published.

Disappointed and exhausted from his many attempts at being published, Ethan retreats to a local café and while recording his thoughts into his personal journal meets waitress Jesse (Alyssa Milano) and is instantly smitten with her outgoing personality, beauty and charm. He asks for her phone number so they can go on a date together and she cheerfully agrees. Moments after Ethan leaves, a handsome patron named Troy (Michael Landes) enters the café and also asks Jesse on a date to which she also agrees.

As Ethan and Jesse begin to date, he learns that she was once married and that her marriage failed because she “was not the right girl” for her ex-husband. Ethan begins writing a new novel at the time that he and Jesse begin dating. Ethan, who manages the apartment building he lives in in order to live rent free, seems to be the exact opposite of the much more financially successful and suave Troy, an advertising executive. Despite this, Ethan and Jesse’s relationship blossoms and deepens and he falls in love with her, as does Troy.

It is apparent through conversations with her brother (Tom Lenk) and uncle (Beau Bridges) that Jesse is struggling over how to tell Ethan her “secret”. She knows that Ethan desires a family and is enthralled by his interaction with his sister’s children. After Ethan proposes marriage to her Jesse becomes emotionally distraught over fear of revealing the truth and decides to end their relationship and leave town with Troy, who had asked her to move to another city with him to expand his business.

Heartbroken but determined to fulfill his promise to Jesse to finish his novel, Ethan submits his work and is overjoyed when he receives word from his agent that his novel will be published. As he is on the phone with his agent he receives a missed call from Jesse who is checking in at the airport. He tries to return her call but she has turned off her cell phone in the meantime. Just as in the beginning of the film, Ethan rushes to her apartment to tell her how much he loves her but her brother informs him that she has left for the airport. Ethan then races off to the airport only to find that he has missed Jesse’s flight.

He returns home and is surprised to find Jesse waiting for him in his apartment. She tearfully expresses her wish to be honest with him, but he decides to share his news with her first. He shows her his new novel, Troy Meets Girl. It is revealed at this point that the relationship between Jesse and Troy was fictional; Troy had been created by Ethan as a more wealthy and successful version of himself for his novel to create content. Jesse was not leaving with another man, but rather for a job in another city for a fresh start. Jesse then reveals her secret to Ethan—she cannot have children. Ethan quickly responds that this does not matter to him and that they can adopt if need be. He again proposes marriage and this time Jesse accepts.

The film ends with Jesse and Ethan getting married and driving off in his car, which stalls and needs to be pushed by the wedding party.
2010Personal Rating60Rotten CriticsNRRotten Audience47IMDb Rating58Combined Rating55.0

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