The Sooty Show – 1955 – Present
This little fella has been appearing on our TV screens for over 50 years. Sooty is the little yellow bear hand puppet, whose character was originally created by Harry Corbett.
The series in which the little bear is joined by a host of friends originally started life as a children’s sketch show on BBC1 in 1955. Presented by Harry Corbett, who purchased the little hand puppet in a joke shop in Blackpool, the early shows featured just Sooty and Harry.
In 1957 a new character joined in the form of Sweep another puppet this time a grey dog with a penchant for bones and sausages. Known for communicating using bizarre squeaks (which were created by someone blowing through the reed of an oboe/bassoon).
In 1964 another character, this time a Panda bear with a normal human voice, by the name of Soo arrived. Her voice was provided by Marjorie Corbett (Harry’s wife) until 1981 when Brenda Longman took over providing the voice right up to the present day.
In 1967 the BBC axed Sooty. The show quickly made a move to ITV as part of the launch of the Thames Television franchise. The show remained there until 1992 until Thames lost it’s ITV franchise. So, in 1993, (nearly a year after the series was concluded), the show was replaced/succeeded by Sooty & Co., also presented by Matthew Corbett and was made by Granada TV in Manchester, North-West of England. It remained until 1998.
As far as we can ascertain the show returned in 1999 with ex co-star Richard Cadell, taking over presenting duties. The show ran until 2004. In 2011 Sooty returned to our screens with Richard Cadell.
The early Harry Corbett shows took the form of a sketch show. When son Matthew took over after Harry retired in 1976, the show evolved into a sitcom format until 1992, set in Sooty’s cottage. In 1993 the show became Sooty & Co., with the gang running a shop that “sells almost everything”. Brenda Longman, the voice of Soo since the early 1980s, co-starred as neighbour Mo.
Matthew Corbett took his retirement in 1998, bequeathing Sooty to then co-star Richard Cadell, who presented the show through another five series, at first under the name Sooty Heights, then under the name, Sooty, both set at a hotel. He was joined in these by two female co-hosts, starting with Liana Bridges from 1999-2000 who worked in Sooty & Co. in the same period he did, and then Vicki Lee Taylor from 2001–2004.
In 2011 the show returned to CITV with Richard Cadell, this time set in a Holiday Camp.
Harry Corbett – 1955 – 1975
Matthew Corbett – 1976 – 1998
Richard Cadell – 1999 – present
Sooty – A mute yellow bear who is the protagonist of the show. He owns a magic wand whose power is invoked using the words “Izzy wizzy, let’s get busy!”.
Sweep – A grey dog with a penchant for bones and sausages. Known for communicating using bizarre squeaks (which were created by someone blowing through the reed of an oboe/bassoon).
Soo – A calm and collected female panda with a normal human voice, who acts as the foil for both Sooty and Sweep. Usually wears a red skirt. Originally voiced by Harry Corbett’s wife Marjorie Corbett from 1964 to 1981 and later voiced by Brenda Longman from the very same year right up to the present day.
Butch – A dark brown dog, similar to Sweep but able to talk. Introduced by Harry Corbett in the early 1970s, but withdrawn by Matthew in 1980 returning to play the part of a villain.
Ramsbottom – A brown snake who spoke in a deep Yorkshire accent and had the habit of telling rather convoluted stories and ditties.
Little Cousin Scampi – Sooty’s cousin, also mute like Sooty. Introduced in an episode of the same title in 1990 and became a regular character from 1991.
Snuffles the Rabbit – Appeared in one episode, was very greedy and consequently annoying throughout the episode but turned out to be well-meaning as it drew to a close.
Created By; Harry Corbett
BBC1 (1955 – 1967)
ITV (1968 – present, currently CITV)
Original Transmission Dates:
24 July 1955 – 30 November 1992 (Sooty Show)
1993 – 1998 – Sooty and Co