Kung Fu Kapers

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"Kung Fu Kapers"
The Goodies episode
Episode no.Series 5
Episode 7
Produced byJim Franklin
Original air date24 March 1975
(Monday — 9 p.m.)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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List of The Goodies episodes

"Kung Fu Kapers" is an episode of the British comedy television series The Goodies. It caused a viewer to die from laughing.

This episode is also known as "Ecky-Thump". It was written by The Goodies, with songs and music by Bill Oddie.

In January 2020, "Kung Fu Kapers" was announced as the fan's favourite episode of The Goodies, during the celebration of the show's 50th anniversary at Bristol's Slapstick Festival.[1]


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.

With great reluctance, Bill agrees to demonstrate this "ancient Lancastrian art" 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, such as Ecky-Thump Meets Mary Poppins and Enter With Drag On.

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 television series Kung Fu, many martial arts schools appearing in gyms, and even a fragrance for men called 'Hai-Karate'.

Viewer death[edit]

The episode is infamous for the documented example of a man laughing to death. Fifty-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. Mitchell's widow later sent the Goodies a letter thanking them for making his final moments so pleasant.[2][3][4][5][6]

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.[7]

DVD and VHS releases[edit]

This episode has been released on both DVD and VHS.


  1. ^ "Goodies fans choose Kung Fu Kapers as favourite episode". BBC News. 25 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Have People Died Laughing?". Snopes. 3 January 2004.
  3. ^ Ross, Robert (2000). The Complete Goodies. London: Batsford.
  4. ^ "Man Dies Laughing at The Goodies". Daily Mail. 29 March 1975.
  5. ^ "A Goodies Way to Go — Laughing". Eastern Daily Press. Norwich. 29 March 1975.
  6. ^ Staveacre, Tony (1987). Slapstick! The Illustrated Story of Knockabout Comedy. Angus & Robinson.
  7. ^ Levy, Andrew (20 June 2012). "Doctors solve mystery of a man 'who died from laughter' while watching The Goodies, after his granddaughter nearly dies from same rare heart condition". Daily Mail.
  • "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

External links[edit]