Friday, 4 November 2011

The Sooty Show - 2011

Title Card for the New 2011 Series
Anyone in British Waters ought to have seen, heard of or grown up with Sooty and chums. Originated from Harry Corbett in 1948 for the BBC, Sooty, Sweep and Soo would go on to become the longest-running children's programme in the UK, spanning an incredible 60 years in various shapes and forms (including an animated series from Cosgrove Hall Films).
Even when Harry retired, he handed the bear to his son, Matthew, who - until his own retirement in 1998 - became a huge creative driving force for Sooty's further adventures, becoming as iconic as his little friend during his respectable career.
Richard Cadell, a life-long friend to the Corbett family and co-star of Sooty and Co, happily took over from Matthew started with Sooty Heights, and has since continued the traditional string of stage shows, keeping the little band of friends alive for generations old and new.

Hey Ho, it's Sooty & Co! Matthew Corbett poses with the Camper Van
However, Sooty's television career since the late '90's hadn't always been "Izzy Wizzy". Following HIT Entertainent's takeover of Gullane Entertainment, it left the series in creative doubt.
HIT's current brands have had (to them) more of a worldwide appeal than just one country alone - consisting of Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Pingu, Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine - so their attempts of making Sooty appeal outside of Great Britain had been rather negative and, lack of a decent word, stupid. Poorly-made puppets and a lack of Brendam Longman (long-time voice of Soo) were two of the biggest blows to the "franchise".
Soo from the 2004 series, comparing the old look with the (then) new. Don't fix what isn't broken...
But bad writing in all stifled the series between 2001 - 2004, which landed them in a 6-year hiatus until HIT, unsure of what to do next, decided to put the rights up for sale.

Richard with Sooty, Sweep and Soo!

...however, Richard became a true hero in the end when he snapped up the rights in 2008 and, from 2011, delivered us a brand-new series set in a holiday camp theme park. And having watched a majority of the new series, I was happily delighted with the results. Now that he's in complete charge his talent shines through much more. You can really see how passionate he is about Sooty and the brand, rather than just trying to make money off it.
It really does feel like old school children's TV from the 80's/90's - purely to entertain and not educate, with all the wonderful slapstick that made Sooty and Sweep a brilliant duo in the first place. And even the additional writers, Alex Skeratt, shares his enthusiasm!

In this day and age where reviving and destroying childhood heroes is becoming an annoying "fad" in today's media, it's folks like Richard that has to remind everyone that if you do plan to bring back a classic series to the present day - DO IT PROPERLY. And so I applaud Richard for showing 'em how to do just that, even with a small budget.
While I'll always adore the Matthew Corbett shows (mainly because that was the era of Sooty I grew up with), Richard Cadell is fast becoming a second favourite if this new series is anything to go by =D
Currently airing on the CITV channel, the number of guest stars to take part have been an additional treat - including Stacey Solomon, Justin Lee Collins, Keith Chegwin, Paul Daniels....and an old friend who makes a delightful return for one last hurrah...

Talking of familiar faces, test your Sooty knowledge and see if you remember any of Sooty's past from the episodes below - a little slice of why the 2011 series deserves further admiration!

1 comment:

  1. really nice blog chris, thank you, and thanks for the kind words, and the mench! A.S.