Tag Archives: monty python

A Goodie evening with Tim Brooke-Taylor

Tim Brooke-TaylorPhil: 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.

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Parlez Vous Francais?

Candice:  Apparently our gaelic writing friends are struggling to find a bigger market than their own turf.  According to the BBC, French books don’t sell well outside of their own country because the French are seen as too deep and intellectual.  And they aren’t very good at writing chic lit…

I have to say this probably relates to most of our European cousins, lets face it most of the books in the shops are British or American these days, the key European ones are more likely to be course text for English Lit students.  The same could be said for the music charts and films – they again are mainly populated by the English-speaking countries.

Why is this? Well it seems it goes both ways, the French don’t read as much of the stuff we select in our bookstores.  It’s highly unlikely you’d be sat on the Metro next to someone reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘. No our french colleagues are to clever for that.

Personally I think it gets lost in translation.  They always say American and the UK, split by a common language.  The Yanks struggle with our sense of humour (though they get Monty Python) and we take their stories with a pinch of salt.  But add in changing the words as well as cultural differences and I think it might be a step too far for most.

However, I’m not saying these guys are stupid.  I think its us English speakers who don’t try hard enough.  We will always opt for the easiest route as we are crap at learning another language, the closest most Brits get to talking to foreigners is slowing it down to say “Fish and Chips, please, senor”.

I have to admit if I had the option of a french film with subtitles or an English one I know which way I would go but then when I give them a chance, something like Leon or Amelie is the result.  Two cracking films.

To our European based readers – what do you think?

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Talking to a ‘National Treasure’

Me and Michael PalinCandice: Phil and I were lucky enough to attend an event at Stratford Literary Festival last week, presented by Michael Palin.  To quote the lady who introduced him, everyone else Pales in comparison (ha ha).

I’ve been a fan of Michael’s for years, as our six form common room would always be full of the sounds of boys chuckling to ‘The Knights who say Ni‘ or ‘The Parrot Sketch‘.  Whether we wanted to be fans or not, we took it in by osmosis.  In fact, it was more the films than the Python TV show as they were on repeat on the TV and we’d sneakily watch them and then spend the next days quoting stuff back.  My one friend took on herself to write down all the words to the song at the start of ‘The Meaning of Life’. Year’s later the same group of female friends who listened at school went to see ‘Spamalot‘ and were quoting sections back to the cast (which they realised as we were in the front row and Lancelot was winking at us as we did it!)

Mr Palin has done alot, from Python to films to some random children’s books and then a travel writer.  It’s quite a varied list, though his presentation his travel shows is always done with tongue firmly in cheek, and I wonder if some times he’s going to break into the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Sitting listening to him talk for an hour, it was less about the art of writing per se but more about the amount of things he’d done. But he gave us snippets of some of the scripts he’d written as well the above mentioned books.  What I didn’t realise he is has actually written two fiction books, the most recent being ‘The Truth’.  As we were running out of time I didn’t get the full gist, but I might have to search this one out. The hour wasnt enough to get in nearly 50 years of experience and anecdotes.  However, he comes across as such a nice chap I could see you walking over to the local pub and carrying on the conversation over a pint!

I’d been set a task by the other half for the evening, as Michael is from Sheffield, the hubby wanted to know who he supported.  Well, while sneaking a cheeky photo, I asked.  ‘United’ was the response, I mentioned Richard was a Wednesday man, but Michael came back and said really either as he always supports his northern roots.  Good answer!

I’m not sure I came away from the event learning any more about writing but I certainly had a good laugh.

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