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 who 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. 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. “At my school they didn’t do any acting,” he says. “I went to a very posh boarding school which specialised in Latin, 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 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 Cambridge Footlights. I didn’t even know what they were, but I was trying to justify a grant.”

Everything fell into place when Tim arrived at Cambridge University’s Pembroke College. “Very luckily, I was at a college where Peter Cook had just left and then, within two or three weeks, I met Bill Oddie, says the 77-year-old. “I got to know like-minded and really good people, but 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. “I think it was a great time anyway because it was in the early 60s when the whole world seemed to be changing,” he says. “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 off in all sorts of directions – satirical, 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. “The BBC people had come to see our revue in Cambridge and some of us were offered jobs very early on,” says Tim. “I wasn’t but I went to ITV and worked on a programme 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, which is still going strong after more than 45 years. In between, Tim has 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 says.

So could that 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’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 surreal sketch show, also starring Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, was again the result of Tim’s friendships and collaborations at Cambridge. Strangely, the show’s biggest fans were in Australia and New Zealand. “Australia had it on every day of the week, along with Doctor Who,” says Tim. “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, currently hosted by Jack Dee. Few radio shows can boast to be going after 46 years, and legend has it that Tim said ‘never again’ after the first episode. “That’s absolutely true,” he says. “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, but 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 in Leyburn, North Yorkshire on Thursday, June 6, at The Garden Rooms at Tennants. He will be interviewed by former BBC presenter Chris Serle, so 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.

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

• Oh Goody! An Evening With Tim Brooke-Taylor and Chris Serle is at The Garden Rooms at Tennants on Thursday, June 6, at 7.30pm. For tickets visit or call 01969-621146