"The last time I saw
a face like that it had a hook
Well, hello... Everyone's favourite
foxy friend, Basil Brush, has been a part of
British television culture for nigh-on 40
years. He was created by illustrator
and animator Peter Firmin in 1963 and was
operated and voiced by actor Ivan
Owen until his death in 2000. The Basil character
was originally conceived for
"The Three Scampys Show", but stardom
beckoned and he was swiftly given his
own BBC series, "The Basil Brush Show".
Basil, his fondness for jelly babies, his
BOOM-BOOM catchprase, his stories, and his ribald
comments were a huge
success. By the end of the 1960's his show topped
the ratings and there was
a plethora of associated. Basil merchandise on
British High Streets for kids
old and young to snap up...
Of course Basil's ongoing success was at the
expense of his actor co-stars,
whom he would refer to as his "Mr"s.
There were five different 'Mr's during Basil's
first run, these being Rodney Bewes, Derek
Fowlds, Roy North, Howard Williams,
and Billy Boyle. Each brought their own personality
to the role and won over a
different generations of fans - much as the
different Dr Who stars have done
over the years. But each were subjected to
more than their fair share of corny
jokes, slapstick and ribbing from our foxy star...
"The Basil Brush Show" ended its
long tv run in 1980, but rather than being
mothballed and preserved for prosperity this
former teatime star was subjected
to one final humiliation courtesy of a collection
of children's compilation shows.
"Basil Brush's Cartoon Story Book" was
an awful production, sandwiching our
BOOM-BOOM boy between cheap Japanese animated
fairytales. You can still
track these down on video at car-boot sales,
but time has been even crueler.
Mr Brush looks desperately tired, threadbare, and
plain worn-out. His jokes
and japes are lost on a lifeless, unresponsive
camera. One imagines it was
almost a relief to let him retire after that...
Fast forward to 2000. The hunger for children's
TV nostalgia was just hitting its
stride when media players Entertainment Rights
made a very shrewd move for
the rights to our foxy fellow. A new series
was put into development and, wouldn't
you know, the rejuvenated star proved the subject
of a bidding war between
broadcasters keen to snap up the show. He was back,
but sadly, his voice
wasn't. Ivan Owen passed away just as Basil was
poised to return. His death
contributed to production delays which pushed the
series back 12 months
until finally, in Autumn 2002 the new show
launched on the BBC - the very
same channel who had dropped him from the
schedules twenty years before.
"Foxed" features two new younger "Mr"s
- Mr Steven and Mr Dave - and a new
young "Miss" in the form of Miss
Molly. As for the star, an all-new puppet has
been constructed by Darryl Worbey Studios. They've
gone back to Peter Firmin's
original illustrations and smartened the fellow
up. There's a lot of movement
within his furry frame. The series itself
is presented as a children's sitcom, with
the action flitting between a bright new apartment
and the local cafe bar...
Reaction to the series has been mixed with
a very specific section of the press
and public condemning the new-look Basil and
his sitcom setting. The Hound
though, gives "Foxed" a furry thumbs-up.
It's a feast of fun, stuffed with one-liners
and asides. Some hit, some miss, whilst
some shoot right over the heads of
its young audience. Basil's pop culture spoofs
are particularly fun, and there
are some interesting new members of the Brush
family to contend with, like
evil Cousin Mortimer. The show just clicks,
much like the excellent "Sooty
Heights" series, a few years back, when
Sooty and Sweep's rioutous antics
were at their peak.
Really, the fuss about a '"fat"
and "faulty" Basil is just so-much hogwash. The
new puppet is to the original what the new-look
Mini is to its predecessor.
Darryl Worbey Studios have done an excellent
job, packing much movement
and expression into Basil's cuddly frame.
By the way, keen-eyed fans should keep their
eyes on the 'Foxed' tv credits,
because this new-look, fit -looking Brush
actually has his own credited
Basil has made many guest appearances over
the years, on tv shows like
"Crackerjack", "Breakfast Time"
and various Saturday Morning productions.
But most notably, between January 2003
and March 2004 he became a
regular guest presenter on the BBC flagship
series "Blue Peter", as part
of his "Foxed" resurrection...
Hound: August 2003
Basil insured for £1million...
Hound: June 2003
Basil gets a fitness instructor...
Hound: May 2000
The return of Basil Brush...
"The Date" premiered
on BBC1 on the 4th October 2002...
The Date Revenge
of the Mummy
The Pitz Hotel
Holding the Baby
The Bully Wedded
The Fake's Progress
The Job Dog-gone
Meanie Genie Fox
The Farm Thanks
The Mad Man of Murrimbidgee Manic
Going for Broke Basil's
Molly Christmas Basil's
Brush With Fame
Cousin Mortimer The
Stupid Christmas I Mean
Big Bother I'm
a Celebrity... Let Me Back
The Return of Cousin Mortimer in
Bing Trouble Double
Molly in Love Basil
Basil's Christmas Turkey The
Fit for Nothing Meeja
Soap a Dope Santa
Taste the Blood of Brushcula Double
Bend it Like Basil
Brush on DVD
Brush - Sports Spectacular
Region 2 / 3 episodes from Foxed
/ Right Ent. / July 2005
Brush - Unleashed
Region 2 / 3 episodes from Foxed
/ Right Ent. / October 2003
Boom! - The Best of the
Region 2 compilation / Universal
/ Right Ent. / October 2001
A flash official site for Foxed.
A good fun site...
The creative team behind the
new-look Basil, Darryl Worbey and friends
have a bucket-load of puppet
building experience to their names, like
those lovable Leprechauns
from Live & Kicking...
web's most-linked, with a plethora of clips and and WAVs
for Brush fans...
Of course, SmallFilms' Peter
Firmin conceived the original Basil and
illustrated lord-knows how
many storybooks and associated praphenalia.
Here's the official site featuring all
the info you can wish on Bagpuss,
The Clangers, The Pogles, Noggin
The Nog and the other amazing tv
series he created with Oliver