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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!


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     Sooty       (1952 - )
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      creator: Harry H Corbett
hand puppet

                         1952 with Harry H Corbett

                         SATURDAY SPECIAL (BBC)
                         1952 with Harry H Corbett

                         THE SOOTY SHOW (BBC)
                         1955-1967 with Harry H Corbett

                         THE SOOTY SHOW (ITV)
                         1968-1976 with Harry H Corbett
                         1976-1992 with Matthew Corbett

                         SOOTY & CO (Granada)
                         1993-1995 with Matthew Corbett

                         SOOTY'S AMAZING ADVENTURES
                         1996 animated series via Cosgrove Hall

                         SOOTY HEIGHTS
with Richard Cadell & Liana Bridges

                         2001 with Richard Cadell


    "Izzy wizzy - Let's get busy!"

    Sooty, the little yellow bear with a penchant for magic tricks has been waving
    his magic wand and causing merry mischief on our tv screens and in theatres
    since 1952. He was, however, "discovered" four years previous to that in 1948
    when his stage-partner Harry H Corbett found him on Blackpool Pier and
    purchased him for his children's amusement. At the time, the bear was
    known as Teddy, and it was Harry and Teddy who first took our tv screens
    in the BBC variety show "Talent Night". Several performances in, Harry was
    persuaded to make his bear stand out from the crowd, so he blackened
    the bear's ears and "Sooty" was born...

    Don't say it too loudly, but Sooty is actually just a simple glove puppet
    with a very restricted amount of movement for his performer to play with.
    But Corbett was a genius. Sooty came to life in his hands. Harry treated
    him like a real-life little bear, talking and interacting with him as if it was the
    most normal thing in the world. Sooty doesn't speak, of course. At least,
    not out loud. Instead, he whispers to his stage-or-screen partner who then
    imparts his words to the audience. What genius!


    After "Talent Night" came regular appearances on "Saturday Special".
    Sooty was a hit, and he subsequently got his own titular show, "The Sooty
    Show" in 1955. two years later he was joined on stage by Sweep the
    squeaky dog who played the xylophone and sprinkled magic Oofle
    Dust everywhichway. He became Sooty's bestest pal and buddy and
    together they made a double-act to rival the very best of British Variety acts.
    (Oh no, they didn't! - Oh yes, they did!). If Sooty was the mischievous one,
    Sweep was as mad as a March Hare, with his incessant squeaking and
    erratic behaviour and his love of sizzling sausages...

    Sooty and Sweep needed a calming influence, and in 1964 they got it, when
    the lovable panda bear Soo joined the gang. Butch the dog, Kipper the cat
    'Enry robot and Ramsbottom the snake also muscled in on the act. Together,
    they survived a channel change from ITV to the BBC where they stayed until
    1976 when Corbett Snr handed over the reins to Corbett Jnr.

       "Sooty's Fun" - A Purnell storybook

    Matthew Corbertt injected some welcome vitality in to the act. His father's
    performances were tailored to a generation weaned on Music Hall and "Watch
    With Mother" television productions which performed "to" children - perfect back
    in the 1950s and 1960s - but the times they were a-changing. Matthew allowed
    himself to become a stage stooge. Sooty and Sweep didn't just joke with
    him, they humiliated the fellow! It was great fun. And usually very messy,
    because there was always copius amounts of water and cream flange
    flying around, and most seemed to end up on our Matthew.

    Throughout the 80s and into the 90s the Sooty concept was tinkered with
    and developed constantly, embracing new audiences and changing tastes.
    The gang were given their own home to have fun with and Sooty's cousin
    Scampi arrived. They went outside in to the real world regularly, and their
    anarchic schemes, plans, designs and tomfoolery got bigger, messier, more
    destructive and consequently, even funnier and regularly bringing down the
    house - literally. Indeed, there was a time during that particular era when
    the production was unmissable television for bigger kids too, on a par with
    the creative highs of "Tiswas" or latterly, "SM:TV Live".

    In 1996, Sooty dipped a toe into animated water, thanks to our friends
    at Cosgrove Hall. But the venture was short-lived, and the following year
    "Sooty Heights" opened its hotel doors. By now, Matthew had decided to
    retire from the tomfoolery, and
Richard Cadell and Liana Bridges stepped
    into the breach. Although Richard and Liana bravely took all the insults,
    custard pies and water pistol squirting that were thrown at them, some
    of the Oofle Dust seemed to have been lost along the way.

    Sooty's last reincarnation occurred at the turn of the millenium, when he
    returned in the titular series, "Sooty", which is best remembered for the
    arrival of Miki, the sly tomcat.

    Ownership of the little yellow bear has chopped and changed over the
    last decade. Guiness Mahon bought the Sooty rights in 1996, with Matthew
    Corbett maintaining ties with the character until his retirement in 1998.
    Planet Gullane then took control in 2000. But in 2003 HIT Entertainment
    got their hands on the character as part of their buy-out of the company,
    and they've since suggested that Sooty doesn't fit into their current
    roster of stars. But who knows? Sooty remains as popular as ever with
    the public at large. Why, he's a Great British Institution, up there with
    Rupert and Basil Brush - both having been reinvented for changing
    audiences with great aplomb. Basil is currently running amok in
    "Foxed" and Rupert is about to get a brand-new animated series.
    There's nothing to suggest that Sooty couldn't do the same...


      See also

Tv Town info
      A look at Sooty's Tv Comic exploits...


      In the news

      The Hound: August 2003
      Sooty for sale!...


     Broadcast info

     Sooty/Teddy made his first "Talent Night" appearance on BBC1
     on 3rd May 1952...


Sooty's sidekicks

     1957 - Sweep
     1964 - Soo
     1960s - Kipper the cat, Butch the dog, 'Enry Robot
                and Ramsbottom the snake
     1976 - Matthew Corbett
     1991 - Cousin Scampi
     1996 - Katarina the cat, Captain Fogbound (both animated)
     1997 - Richard Cadell, Liana Bridges
     2001 - Miki the Tomcat


      Sooty credits

      Obviously, it wouldn't be practical to generate a complete list of series
      credits here - even if that kind of info was available. So instead, here's
      a snapshot...

     The Sooty Show (1987 credits)

     devised by:     Harry Corbett O.B.E.

     producer:       Stan Woodward
     director:         Stan Woodward
     exec prod:      Charles Warren
     writer:            Richard Lockwood
     musical dir:     Ted Brenan
     prod asst:       Vivianne Royal
     designer:        Jim Nicolson
     puppeteers:    Peter Saxon, Brian Sandford,
                           Richard Lockwood, Brenda Longman
     presenter:       Matthew Corbett
     voices:            Brenda Longman (Soo)

     Sooty Heights

     director:          Stuart Hall
     producer:         Helen Stephens
     writer:             Peter Corey
     music:             Dave Corbett
     casting:           Linda Butcher
     dub mixer:       Gary Moore
    Brian Sandford, Brenda Longman,
                           Ronnie Le Drew, Crispin Lowry,
                           Craig Almond
              Richard Cadell (Richard)
                           Liana Bridges
                           Eva Gray (Portia du Pont)
                           Brenda Longman (Soo / Dotty)


      Sooty on DVD

      UK DVD 

      The Original Sooty Show: Wet and Wild Water Fun!
      Region 2 / 3 episodes / Prism / April 2002

      The Sooty Show: Sweep Superdog
      Region 2 / 6 episodes from various series / Fremantle / August 2001

      Sooty: Izzy Whizzy Let's Get Bizzy!
      Region 2 / February 2004


     On the web

      Reaching Brand New Sooty Heights
      Brian Swann's enthusiastic fan site..

      Reaching Brand New Sooty Heights
      And here's Brian's Yahoo! original...

      Ronnie Le Drew
      Ronnie operated Sweep for four seasons of "The Sooty Show"...

      PC Sweep
      Now this is silly, and fun, and actually informative. It's a
      semi-official site following the mis-adventures of PC Sweep
      Watch out for the cones!

      Sooty & Sweep's Online
      Stop the presses, though. Here's a full-blooded site, rounding
      up info on the little bear from across the web...

      The Travels of Sooty and Sweep          
      And now some more Sooty silliness. This one features snapshots
      of the yellow and grey one "on tour" with their human friends.
      They've even seen "Iron Maiden" in concert, don't you know...

      HIT Entertainment
      The rights holders, with info on all the characters they own...

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© HIT Entertainment / F2006