Phil: The final event of Stratford Literary Festival was to be another celebrity filled extravaganza. Last year we had Michael Palin, this time it was to be Tim Brooke-Taylor.
To make things even more exciting, Tim was being interviewed by Chris Serle, who many will remember from “That’s Life”. If you are a child of the 1970s, this was a good night out.
The format involved a couple of chairs and Searle interviewing TBT. This is a stage show they have performed around the country and basically involves some chat interspersed with clips from Tim’s TV career. If you were expecting something of the Radio 4 Tim then sadly, “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” was quickly dealt with early on, although at least this was with a filthy joke that made Nolan roar with laughter.
For those who saw Palin last year, there were many connections. Tim had also gone to Cambridge University, had also joined the Footlights review and was very nearly also a Python. In fact he was partly responsible to writing the classic Four Yorkshireman sketch that is normally considered pure Python. We have now seen film of the earliest version with the man himself playing one of the parts.
From here he progressed through several classic black & white comedy sketch shows until we got to The Goodies. The idea behind this was to take a couple of issues and throw them together with a sort of sketch format. Intended as an adult show and broadcast after 9pm, it’s usually remembered for a giant cat or flying black puddings. We were shown the climax of “The Movies” and it’s still very funny even if one or two jokes have dated.
To be honest, we didn’t learn much about writing other than Tim fell in to it having discovered that he really enjoyed making people laugh much more than he fancied being the lawyer he trained to be. He also doesn’t like to work on his own, jokes are funnier when you bounce them off people both on stage and on the page. That’s a lot like the way we work with ideas and banter driving the text.
More to the point, we both grew up with The Goodies and watching and old episode on DVD before writing this, I wonder if it has influenced the funny set-piece sections in our book. We certainly aren’t afraid to think outside the box with the jokes and although they have roots in reality, we are both capable of stretching this a long way for comedic effect.
Maybe TBT and collegues have more of a hand in our work than we realised.