An Evening with Tim Brooke-Taylor at Saffron Hall on Wednesday, March 20

Tim Brooke-Taylor will be at Saffron Hall

Tim Brooke-Taylor will be at Saffron Hall - Credit: Archant

Tim Brooke-Taylor is not as bad as his wife, Christine thinks. He says that’s what she used to say when she came home after her sessions working in marriage guidance: “You’re not as bad as I thought.” He will be talking about his life and times at Saffron Hall on Wednesday, March 20.

Tim Brooke-Taylor is not as bad as his wife, Christine thinks.

He says that’s what she used to say when she came back from her sessions working in marriage guidance: “You’re not as bad as I thought.”

That’s one of the things he has in common with Barry Cryer, his fellow performer on Radio 4’s Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, a long and happy marriage. The Brooke-Taylors will have been married 50 years this year. They met on a skiing holiday in Switzerland.

“I always say that we have been going downhill every since. My wife’s sick of hearing me say that.”

It’s a holiday romance that has lasted half a century. But it’s never referred to on the radio programme. “I don’t like to boast about it,” he says. “I know people who are divorced and it’s nobody’s fault.”

So his marriage probably won’t be one of the things he speaks about when he brings his Evening With Tim Brooke-Taylor to Saffron Hall on March 20. He will be interviewed about his life and times by Chris Serle, who Tim says changes the questions each time to keep it fresh.

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“The best decision we made was to ask the audience to write questions in the interval, that’s so much more interesting than just relying on people putting their hands up - and more difficult.”

A most difficult question, he says was: “Do you think you’re funny?” The answer was: “No” followed by: “But I’ve got terrible taste.”

A frequent question is: “What are the rules of Mornington Crescent?”

The question will always get a laugh because the joke of Mornington Crescent, one of the “silly things to do” that Jack Dee, the quiz-master on Sorry I Haven’t a Clue gives the team to do, has no rules.

It’s funny because it’s a send-up of sports and games commentaries with Barry Cryer taking the mickey by pretending to take it seriously, using the hushed tones that you hear in a voice-over on snooker.

Tim, best known for the television programme The Goodies, began his “Evening With” show as a charity fundraiser for Wellspring, the counselling charity, at the Bristol Silent Film Festival five years ago.

It went so well they decided to take it on the road.

His career has been like that. Mostly a happy accident. As a student at Pembroke College, Cambridge, he was President of Footlights in 1963 and was part of the most successful Footlights Revue ever.

With John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Bill Oddie, it was so successful at the Edinburgh Festival that it went to London’s West End and transferred to Broadway.

They had to change its name. Originally it was called a Clump of Plinths because Brooke-Taylor says he loved the word Clump and Cleese loved the word Plinth.

It was changed to Cambridge Circus which confused Londoners because it was not showing anywhere near Cambridge Circus and puzzled the New Zealanders when it went there because they were expecting to see clowns and animals.

“It was all so unexpected,” he says. “I thought, I’m going to be a lawyer but right now I’m enjoying this. We knew we were lucky and we knew that we had been lucky at the right time.”

In the mid-60s, he replaced Peter Cook on the TV show The Braden Beat. “I created a right-wing character who thought he was a liberal.”

“I was in a pub and I heard a man saying that the man talked a lot of sense - I thought you are supposed to be laughing at him, you are not supposed to like him. he’s a terrible guy. The sort of person who makes a lot of assumptions.”

An Evening with Tim Brooke-Taylor will include clips from the 1968 television series: At Last the 1948 Show, so called, he says because “the people in charge of television always postpone everything.”

He’r right. Only now, 50 years on, is this series to become available as a box set.

He’s 78 now. He was shocked having lunch with Jack Dee and his history student daughter to find that the period she is studying is the 1970s, but time moves on. He and Christine have five grandchildren.

They all support the family football team, Derby County because the young Tim grew up in Buxton. He was director of the team for a while in 1980-81.

“They were in a spot of trouble. It was hard work. It’s not good having 30,000 people shouting ‘what a load of rubbish’.”

He appreciates football chants though.

“We were playing Reading and the Reading fans were shouting: “You’re the worst team in history” - The Derby fans shouted back: “At least we’ve got some history.”

“It was all good natured, the Reading fans laughed.”

An Evening with Tim-Brooke -Taylor. March 20. 7.30pm.

Tickets £12.50 from or 0845 548 7650 or Tourist Information 01799 524002.