TV Cream

Bric-a-Brac: N is for...

Noddy, Tom

You can't do that on stage anymoreOf all the weird and wonderful speciality acts who peopled variety shows with their esoteric skills during the ’70s and ’80s, none were as mesmerizing as ‘bubble magician’ Tom Noddy. An unassuming American with a hippyish ponytail and a relaxed line of chummy patter, Noddy kept audiences enthralled by just standing there blowing bubbles. Not just any old bubbles, of course: bubble volcanoes, bubble caterpillars, bubble carousels and his piece de resistance, the bubble cube. He’s still going today, but unlikely to turn up on the telly due to his preferred method of highlighting his soapy creations for the cameras – filling them with lungfuls of smoke derived from a Marlboro constantly burning between the fingers of his left hand.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    August 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Talking of Marlboros, remember that bloke whose act was to smoke as many fags simultaneously as possible? I wonder how long he lasted on The Paul Daniels Show before the sprinklers went haywire?

  2. Paul Gatenby

    September 18, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Tom Noddy was one of my earliest TV memories. Apparently he now uses a small fog-generating machine to fill the bubbles. So there’s no excuse now, commissioning editors!

  3. Adrian

    September 18, 2009 at 9:12 am

    “I wonder how long he lasted on The Paul Daniels Show before the sprinklers went haywire?”

    Putting on my fire safety marshall hat, sprinklers are activated by heat rather than smoke. I take you point about it not being allowed today though, nothing says ‘1970s’ like presenters smoking on live TV, does it?

  4. B B Beyer

    October 5, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I remember him saying that bubbles are minimum surface area structures (which can also be applied to explaining grain size in crystalline materials).

    Presumably he’d still be able to smoke the fags in his act for “reasons of authenticity”?

  5. B B Beyer

    October 5, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Just watched his Paul Daniels Show act again on YouTube, and realised that he turned up a few years later in “The Fast Show” as Prof. Denzil Dexter!

  6. Richard Davies

    August 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I remember the BBC did a one-off show about bubbles in the 1980s, presented (I think) by Paul McDowell.

    Tom Noddy was featured along with bubble cars old & new.

    The latter being a concept car by Ford, one of those ones that does the rounds at car shows never to be seen again, but some bits get into standard models a few years later.

    Talking of smoking on TV, Dave Allen used to have one on the go along with a glass of something strong, & there was an OU presenter who used to smoke like it was going out of fashion.

  7. Droogie

    June 16, 2024 at 3:40 pm

    I recall that bubble show but it was presented by John Craven. The reason I remember it was a musical duo called Mainframe made an appearance. They were 2 computer nerds who were briefly everywhere on kids tv for 15 minutes ( I even remember a computer magazine I read having a feature on them because they made Music on a BBC microcomputer or something. ) I also recall them plugging an LP on Saturday Superstore where each track contained a clue to some buried treasure or somesuch . Sadly their nerdy computer programmer looks meant they were never going to challenge the likes of Depeche Mode or OMD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top