First broadcast: 20th December 1970 on BBC-1
This was my favourite episode I’ve seen so far. The Goodies decide to take advantage of the recent introduction of commercial radio licences – at least that’s how it appeared to me. My knowledge of the history of commercial radio is slim but nonetheless, 1970 seemed a tad early for the Goodies to be applying for a licence – and that’s because it probably is.
Broadcasting in the Seventies
The Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 helped turn the Independent Television Authority (ITA) into the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), so independent radio gained a regulator. It seems likely that the regulator needed to exist before licences could be handed out. Yet it’s unsurprising that the Goodies would be keen already by December 1970 because in June that year the Conservatives had won a General Election with a manifesto that proposed the introduction of commercial radio.
Until then, pirate radio was the only alternative to the BBC’s airwaves monopoly, with stations basing themselves on vessels positioned several miles out to sea, and thus beyond the legal reach of UK law. When the Goodies are turned down for a licence, they opt to launch their own pirate station, which also then becomes the base for their independent postal service.
Bill and Tim’s enthusiasm for the radio station is best exemplified by the fact they have spent considerable time perfecting a jingle before they even hear about their licence. When they do get their station, Bill has worked hard on his presenting skills to emulate an upbeat, fast-talking disc jockey. He’s clearly hoping for superstardom and I’d be curious if his style is based on any contemporaries in particular. With both these important aspects in place, we then discover that they have neglected to acquire any records so are left playing one single on repeat.
Graeme is emerging as the technical bod of the three, which suits him as I think he looks like he should be presenting something from the Open University. He masterminds the design of their sea base and after proposing their postal service, later descends into increasing power-crazed megalomania, finally morphing into a villain who is Nazi-like in appearance. I hugely enjoyed watching this change in Graeme, who had seemed like the most sensible and ordinary of the three in the previous episodes I’d seen.
The design of the radio station is extraordinary. Graeme’s drawing shows a small fishing boat that sits atop the water, with a cylinder heading down beneath to the full station, complete with living arrangements and sleeping quarters. Graeme presents his design to the others, placing it in our imagination, thus it doesn’t matter that we never actually see most of this.
I adore the radio station set. It seems superb and unnecessarily huge for a single episode of a sitcom that also spends plenty of time on location. It looks wonderfully futuristic, immediately making me think of sci-fi series. I like the continuity that means it has a large silver ‘G’ on the door, similar to the one at the Goodies headquarters.
Pirate post office
The structure of the Goodies’ postal service is never explained and I couldn’t work out how they were supposed to make any money from it, so it’s best not to dwell upon that. Bill and Tim are left to do the bulk of the manual work, roaming around as rogue post boxes, trying to trap people into giving them their post. The sorting operation is even stranger, with Bill and Tim attaching balloons to the letters, which are directed out to sea for Graeme to shoot down and retrieve. I particularly liked the idea of the first class delivery that is delivered singularly by a Rolls Royce, then carried to the door on a silver tray by Tim, dressed up to the nines.
I mentioned my early enjoyment of The Goodies‘ musical choices and Radio Goodies excelled. I was particularly keen on the postal song that served as a background to Bill and Tim’s rushed activities. It really contributes well to these lengthy, silent sequences of visual comedy.