Goodness Gracious Me (BBC2, 1998-2001, 2014-2015)
This is the sketch show that was one of the more successful comedy shows of its era. Goodness Gracious Me was the show that took a look at life with an Asian twist. The first editions were actually on BBC Radio 4 in 1996, although I didn’t hear them first-time round, but like with many other shows, they have constantly been repeated on BBC7/BBC Radio 4 Extra.
This was well received, and led to the transfer to TV in 1998. And once again, this is a comedy show where I saw the majority of the editions for the first time on UK Play, or PlayUK, or whatever it was called that week (why isn’t this great channel still going?). Their range of regular characters managed to strike a chord with plenty of viewers from various backgrounds.
These included the gossip reporter, the man who thought that everything was Indian, a Bollywood film star, and a rather rude kangaroo. If you were a viewer, you would know why people were starting to say “cheque, please”. Some of the sketches were performed in the studio with a rather basic set design, but the ideas always managed to get across. And whilst maybe not hitting the heights of The Fast Show, this still turned out to be a decent-sized success.
Among the cast members was Dave Lamb, who is better known nowadays for being the rather booming voiceover on a lot of shows, where he has managed to take sarcasm to extraordinarily new levels. By the time of the second series, Goodness Gracious Me was popular enough to be winning awards, and for there to be a stage tour featuring a lot of the now rather familiar characters.
There was also a special theme night, and among the shows was a look behind the scenes (and by this point I think that some editions were repeated on BBC1 in a late-night slot too). Following the third and final series, there was a one-off special featuring sketches made on location in India. And after this, some of the cast stayed together to work on comedy chat show The Kumars At No. 42. The majority of the episodes have been released on DVD.
In more recent years, Goodness Gracious Me was occasionally revived, firstly with a special that was part of BBC2’s 50th anniversary celebrations, meaning that for the first time in about 15 years, the cast got together to go through some of the best-remembered characters again. Further specials were as part of a season about India, and another celebrated 20 years of the TV version.