Kung Fu Kapers
|"Kung Fu Kapers"|
|The Goodies episode|
|Episode no.||Series 5
Episode 43 (of 76)
|Original air date||24 March 1975
(Monday — 9 p.m.)
This episode is also known as "Ecky-Thump".
Written by The Goodies, with songs and music by Bill Oddie.
Tim and Graeme are attempting to learn Kung Fu in the Goodies' office, but Bill is extremely disparaging of their techniques, and shows them that he knows some rather impressive martial arts skills of his own. Under pressure from the other two, Bill reveals himself as a master of the secret Lancashire martial art known as "Ecky-Thump" – which mostly revolves around hitting unsuspecting people with black puddings while wearing flat caps and braces.
Bill agrees to demonstrate this "ancient Lancastrian art", with great reluctance, in a series of bouts against Tim and Graeme (who pose as various martial arts experts who are "foreign members of their families"). Bill wins against every "expert" merely by hitting them over the head with the black pudding (except the Scots one who is knocked out by a wayward boomerang). Tim ends up with all four limbs in plaster, in a "kung-fu" style stance, so he will be "ready" if Bill comes back. Graeme points out that Tim can't actually move. Bill has meanwhile opened a profitable Ecky-Thump class, and subsequently stars in a series of Martial Arts flicks.
The night before Bill and his Ecky-Thump "army" are to go on the march to attack with their black puddings, Graeme adds a "remote control device" to the black pudding mixture – leading to unexpected wayward black puddings for a bewildered Bill and his equally bemused Ecky-Thump followers.
At the time the episode was made, Kung-fu was a craze which was sweeping the UK with films such as Enter the Dragon, the Kung Fu TV series, many martial arts schools appearing in gyms, and even a fragrance for men called Hai-Karate.
The episode is infamous for the documented example of a man laughing to death. 50-year-old Alex Mitchell could not stop laughing for a continuous 25 minute period - almost the entire length of the show - and suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the strain placed on his heart. It was from a skit in which a kilted Scotsman seems about to successfully defeat Bill wielding a black pudding. However, the returning boomerang from an earlier battle with Graeme's "Australian relative" knocks the Scotsman out. Mitchell's widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making his final moments so pleasant. 
In May 2012, Mitchell's granddaughter, Lisa Corke, suffered a heart attack at the age of 23. She was diagnosed with long QT syndrome and the doctors caring for her believe it is likely that Mitchell suffered from the same hereditary condition.
DVD and VHS releases
This episode has been released on both DVD and VHS.
- Death by Laughing
- The Complete Goodies — Robert Ross, B T Batsford, London, 2000.
- Man Dies Laughing at The Goodies, "Daily Mail", London (29 March 1975)
- A Goodies Way to Go — Laughing, "Eastern Daily Press", Norwich (29 March 1975)
- Slapstick! The Illustrated Story of Knockabout Comedy — Tony Staveacre, Angus & Robinson 1987
- Doctors solve mystery of a man 'who died from laughter' while watching The Goodies, after his granddaughter nearly dies from same rare heart condition
- "The Goodies Rule OK" — Robert Ross, Carlton Books Ltd, Sydney, 2006
- "From Fringe to Flying Circus — 'Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960-1980'" — Roger Wilmut, Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1980
- "The Goodies Episode Summaries" — Brett Allender
- "The Goodies — Fact File" — Matthew K. Sharp
- "TV Heaven" — Jim Sangster & Paul Condon, HarperCollinsPublishers, London, 2005