There are many anecdotes from my childhood that just don’t translate to the rest of the world, and this subversive and gloriously wibbly wobbly children’s animation is one of them. When I was a kid this was the sort of programming that shaped my personality for better or worse, and it’s refreshing to be reminded of just how little we were happy with back then. I don’t ever remember questioning why the picture quality was so basic, and maybe that was actually its lasting appeal, it looked like something we could have attempted to draw ourselves with felt tips. It wasn’t fluffy wuffy childish nonsense either, which I always found patronising even way back then; it was alternatively absurdly funny and very cleverly scripted and appealed to me hugely though I didn’t quite understand why at the time.
Last week we read the very sad news that both the illustrator Bob Godfrey, and Richard Briers who voiced this cartoon, had both passed away, and it’s triggered a bout of nostalgia and a reminder that I’m getting older myself.
Richard Briers then was a voice I’d grown up with; as soothingly familiar as a glass of milk and a biscuit at bedtime, a regular and reassuring fixture as I went through my teens, and into my twenties and thirties longing for an Aga oven to keep my toes warm and the kitchen smelling divinely of home baked goods with a few chooks hovering at the door. No wonder then that The Good Life also became one of my firm favourites and still a show that I watch repeatedly on rainy days when I’m sentimental about Old Blighty (as opposed to the current version of the UK which I don’t miss at all). He was the sort of actor who seemed to exude the simple joys of just being alive in many of his roles, though I do remember him being cast against type in an episode of Morse where he played a very creepy chap which upset my mojo and the general order of the world for me entirely! For the greater part of his screen life though he came across as a cheeky scamp with a razor sharp yet good natured wit that followed him all the way to Monarch of the Glen, and I for one will deeply miss his presence in the world. In the words of one of his co-stars, Penelope Keith: “He was what it said on the tin; a thoroughly nice chap”.
It’s been a joy to be reminded of this with a blast from my past and I’m pleased to say that it would appear I’ll at least never be too old for Roobarb and Custard and ‘tip-pawing’ antics xx