23. The New Office

The New Office

4 February 1973

A year has elapsed between series, during which sabbatical the lads have taken ‘Kitten Kong’ to Montreux, released the under-par ‘Collection of Goodies – Special Tax Edition’ and the rather more charming ‘Travelling Instant 5 Minute Christmas’… and spent 6 months squatting outside their office, waiting for builders to put in a couple of bookshelves and some wallpaper! Now they’re back, and it’s business as usual… sort of.

‘The New Office’ marks a sea change. The Goodies were more in the public eye come the start of 1973. They were more confident, a little self-indulgent, perhaps, but by no means complacent. In fact, Series 3 sees them embark on a striking re-invention.

First up, the opening credits. Gone is the upbeat guitar and drum combo and the mad exuberance of the original ‘Take a little good advice…’, replaced here by a down-tempo funk/soul rendition (same lyrics, more or less) at relaxed, assured contrast with the clips on display. ‘THE GOODIES’ flashes up in that familiar mania font, then spins away. ~Bill dances out of control with a postbox~ ‘WE DO’ ~Tim rides the gymnasium pommel horse~ ‘ANYTHING’ ~Graeme shampoos art gallery sculptures~ ‘ANYWHERE’ ~the Loch Ness monster turns and bites~ (Hang on? Did that say anywhere? What happened to any time?) The lads appear and are named, not in mid-air above a trampoline but rather standing individually in front of a blue curtain, as if being inspected by the audience. Tim is bashful, Graeme scientifically detached. Bill opens his jacket with schoolboy cheek and brazen self-awareness to reveal a Goodies t-shirt. It is an acknowledgement not only of the viewer but also of fandom. The lads have made it. They’ve established themselves, now they’re moving on to greater and even zanier heights.

Secondly, we’re given a change in set. This is accomplished in-story by a masterful dig at the building industry.

Graeme: Remember what the builder’s estimate said; look: ‘Estimated time to complete work – a couple of days.’

Bill: Well, there you are. A couple of days!

Graeme: ‘NB. A couple of days – builder’s slang meaning six months.’

The resulting demolition and rebuild presents us with the titular new office—a workspace with personalised, demarcated ‘bits’ for Tim (desk and throne), Bill (beanbag and Tony Blackburn punch ball) and Graeme (computer). This is a formalising of identity; a setting in stone of characters and costume. Graeme is the brains of the operation, outrageously clever yet prone to simplistic oversight and megalomaniacal excess. Tim is the heart, an exaggerated patriot with upper-class pretensions and congenital cowardness. Bill, in this metaphor, is the penis—a disreputable, unruly, fun-loving, pent-up anarchist who thinks primarily with his, um, self. We knew these archetypes already. The lads have grown into them over time (even as they’ve begun casting off their ‘nice but put-upon’ image of buffoons for hire). But ‘The New Office’ makes it official. The Goodies are back. They know who they are and we know what to expect from them. Which doesn’t mean they’re going to rest on their laurels. Second place at Montreux? Not good enough!

Tim applies gold paint to the Montreux Silver Rose!

While Tim’s re-tinting of the Silver Rose is usually taken for good-natured disgruntlement at having lost out to Marty Feldman, it could equally represent the super chaps’ commitment to forging a new, improved product (cf. ‘new, improved Snooze’!) – tighter, funnier, running with the same basic formula and array of jokes, yes, but pushing themselves to greater extremes. (Hence the showdown with dinosaur-styled digging machines!) Placed in this context, ‘The New Office’ is actually quite masterful. It is fast and funny, with gags aplenty and—allowing for a little sag at the offices of Gazump, Grasper, Meanie & Snatch—very little wasted time. Guest star Joe Melia[1] puts in a manic and belligerent, two-parts Hyde, no-parts Jekyll performance as the Builder / Mr Snatch. The outdoor construction scenes are consummately handled (to the understated soul-fusion earworm ‘That’s My Home’; special mention to the pane of glass gag executed by way of French mime). The mobile office is inspired[2], the mecho-Jurassic confrontation a triumph! And of course, absurdism rules. Right from the outset, with Tim shouting to make himself heard over construction noise that turns out to be on tape (the builders having left a cassette player for Bill to operate!), we know we’re in for something special.

50 years on, that impression has only been strengthened.

Jacob Edwards, 4 February 2023


The Goodies on their trandem, towing the new office (a converted disused railway station).
Tim (dressed as an old woman) and Bill (dressed as a baby in yellow romper suit) receive a cake-sized piece of land from Miss Lushboosie (Julie Desmond).
Graeme puts the finishing touches on a door, opens it, and crashes into the brick wall behind.
Graeme: It’s too quiet. I don’t like it.

Bill: Neither do I. Graeme? I’m frightened!

Tim: Oh, come on! It’s just you’re not used to it, that’s all.

Graeme: No, no. This silence – it’s not natural. There’s something wrong. Out there. [From outside comes a loud mechanical roar.] What— What was that?!

Tim: Oh, probably just a cow. Honestly, you city folk! Getting all nervous and edgy the minute you hear the sounds of the countryside. Once you get used to it— [He is drowned out by an even more monstrous ROAARRRR!] ...you’ll be quite happy— It isn’t a cow, is it?
Graeme using his coat as a matador’s cape; Tim fighting a pneumatic drill; Bill being hammered into the ground.
Graeme is pursued by an enormous digging machine; the Goodies perform the first (of several) Pied Piper acts!

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[1] Having demolished the Goodies’ office, Joe Melia went on to demolish Arthur Dent’s house in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series (1981), itself a product of the BBC’s having evicted the lads from their programming schedule.

Tim with the Builder (Joe Melia); Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) confronts Prosser (also Joe Melia) in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series.

[2] And will ramp up still further in Series 4’s ‘The Race’!

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