THERE must have been something in the water when Tim Brooke-Taylor was at Cambridge.

While at the university the comic actor, best known for The Goodies and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, mixed with budding comedians that would go on to change the face of British comedy. In his youth Tim was in the Cambridge University Footlights Club with the likes of John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden and Jonathan Lynn.

And that laid the foundation for numerous beloved shows including Monty Python.

It certainly came as a surprise to Tim who hadn’t even thought of a career in TV until that point.

He said: “At my school they didn’t do any acting. I went to a very posh boarding school which specialised in Latin which was my worst subject. They didn’t do any plays except in Greek. It was just the odd little bits there where I was doing silly conjuring things in front of friends.

“But I got a report in my last year that said if Tim fails his A-Levels, which they quite clearly thought I was going to, he can probably become an actor or he’d probably prefer a musical comedian.

“It was extraordinary really and it was thanks to the Derbyshire Education Committee that I said I was going to join the Footlights.

“I didn’t even know what they were but it was trying to justify a grant.”

But everything fell into place when Tim arrived at Cambridge University’s Pembroke College.

The 77-year-old added: “Very luckily, I was at a college where Peter Cook had just left and Bill Oddie I met within two or three weeks.

“I got to know like-minded and really good people but at that time I didn’t see it as a serious way forward.”

At that time the comedy world was starting to shift and little did Tim know he would be at the epicentre of that.

He said: “I think it was a great time anyway because it was in the early 60s when the whole world seemed to be changing.

“Comedy could be much broader because people were seeing it on television.

“You didn’t have to stick to jokes about your mother-in-law. You could go out in all sorts of area – satirical areas as well as just stupidly funny.

“Certainly in my case it was the people I was with who got me doing my best work. I would never have done it on my own.”

TV producers soon came knocking.

Tim added: “The BBC people had come to see our revue in Cambridge and some of us were offered jobs very early on.

“I wasn’t but I went to ITV and worked on a programmed called On The Braden Beat. Then we went to America and started all over again.

“Fortunately we got one or two other people’s toes in the door and our student revue became I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.”

That was the BBC radio show that planted the seed for the panel game favourite, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, that is still going strong after more than 45 years.

But in between Tim worked with Monty Python’s John Cleese and the late Graham Chapman on the TV satire show, At Last The 1948 Show.

“That was when it really got going,” he told Weekend.

“One of the sketches is one of the best things I’ve been in where I’m a policeman and the others are plain clothed policewomen.

“They suddenly throw names at me that I wasn’t expecting. The audience spot it early on and it’s totally unprofessional but it’s twice as funny because of that.”

Could that show considered be considered the beginnings of Monty Python?

“In many ways yes,” said Tim, who grew up in Buxton.

“In fact they nicked one of ours – The Four Yorkshiremen – but they have paid me recently.

“I could have been a member of Monty Python but I’m not a very good solo writer.

“I can write a bit for comedy but I’m not a big writer and for that you have to be one of main writers and that wouldn’t have worked for me.

“I’d have liked to have been part of it though. They did some great stuff especially Life of Brian. That is one of the greats that I’m jealous of.

“But I was very happy doing The Goodies which feels more satisfying now than it was at the time.”

The Goodies, a surreal sketch show also starring Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, was again the result of Tim’s friendships and collaborations at Cambridge.

Memories of the programme are fresh in Tim’s mind because he has recently done a show in Leicester Square about The Goodies to tie in with all the episodes being released on DVD.

‘I could have been a member of Monty Python. In fact they nicked one of our sketches’

Tim added: “Seeing the shows again comes as a bit of a shock. I’d forgotten how much satirical stuff was in it. Quite strong stuff.

“It appealed to people like me who liked cartoons but had a bit more weight to it in other places.”

Strangely the show’s biggest fans were in Australia and New Zealand.

Tim said: “Australia had it on every day of the week along with Doctor Who. We did a couple of tours there and they know a lot more about the shows than we do. They’ve gone on showing it and they’ve terrific audiences there.

“I’ve got this funny theory that they like it there – along with Scotland too – because it’s anti-establishment.”

A lot of fans will also know Tim for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, that is currently hosted by Jack Dee.

Few radio shows can boast to be still going after 46 years but legend has it that Tim said ‘never again’ after the first episode.

“That’s absolutely true,” he added.

“Humphrey Lyttelton (the show’s original host) made me swear I wouldn’t. That was in 1972 and we’re still making it now.

“To be honest it was dreadful to start with. We didn’t have a way of doing it properly.

“We were basically trying to do I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again but ad libbing it. Eventually it evolved and thankfully we have a very good producer Jon Naismith who works his socks off.

“We’ve just done one recording in Leeds and I’ve got two more coming up. It keeps coming back even though we swore never again.”

These tales just scratch at the surface of Tim’s fascinating life and he will be sharing his story in full for Lymm Festival.

At Statham Lodge Hotel on Monday he will be interviewed by former BBC presenter Chris Serle where you can also learn things like how he got a part in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, ended up directing Orson Welles in a film and even how he got expelled from the PNEU School in Buxton.

He said: “I’ll leave that for the show but that’s how my story starts. My mother says: ‘You weren’t expelled you were asked to leave’...

  • Lymm Festival presents An Audience with Tim Brooke-Taylor at Statham Lodge Hotel on Monday. Visit