TV Cream

TV: S is for...

Sooty Show, The

VARIOUSLY MONIKERED capers of orange, verbally-challenged, water pistol-toting magic bear-cum-hand puppet possessed by extreme powers of endurance. First “helper” was crotchety old HARRY CORBETT (who’d bought the thing from a Blackpool pier for two shillings), making up a mess of fun on scratchy old black’n’white Beeb in the fifties, usually involving flour. Lots of flour. Thence appeared buffoonish second banana Sweep, grey dog who squeaked, and usually prime victim of slapstick shenanigans. Also fond of singing, which involved tuneless squeaking and, crucially, sticking out his paws to indicate his depth of feeling. (We’ve always admired Sweep’s patience as it must be hard going through life having your every utterence repeated back to you as a question.) Next up were Kipper the cat, Butch the dog and Ramsbottom the snake, all of which were crap and were accordingly forgotten about. Then after much deliberation by BBC chiefs, Sooty was allowed to have a talking panda girlfriend, Soo, so long as there was no onscreen hanky-panky and she did all the housework. When Harry said “Bye bye, everybody, bye bye!” for the last time he handed the whole thing over to son MATTHEW, whose main claim to fame up to that point was founder membership of the RAINBOW Rod, Jane and… triumvirate. Took the whole shebang to Thames, with radical format shift, chiefly involving a pop group (inevitably). Then it changed again, majoring on the country homestead adventures of Matthew and friends, with bizarre bathroom scenes a highlight. Travels in the Sootymobile followed suit, and you even got to see Sooty’s legs now. Top surreal moment was guest appearance by Iron Maiden drummer NICKO McBAIN, who taught Sweep how to wield the sticks. Then Matthew sold the whole lot for £1.4m in 1996, and the thing became a dreadful nostalgia industry pimping ground.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    March 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Ali Bongo? The Sooty Braden Show Band? Get in!

  2. Glenn A

    March 2, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    It was never the same when Matthew Corbett took over in 1977. Out went the Sooty Braden Show Band, Harry Corbett( though he still made cameos until the end of the decade) and in came some attempt at making the show trendy with references to discos and rock bands. It should really have ended with Harry’s retirement in 1977 as the Harry Corbett era is best loved among purists. Also appearing in one show was a down on his luck Gerry Marsden as a resident pop star who was bombarded with water and gunge.

  3. Uncle Mex

    March 10, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Glad to see someone else citing Matthew as the third founding “Rod, Jane, and…” member, I was beginning to think my old memory was playing tricks on me.

  4. Matthew Rudd

    March 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    And whither Maggie Mouse?

  5. THX 1139

    January 17, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Sweep was the real star, seeing an eighties episode where he imagined himself as Superdog competing in tug o’ war with Geoff Capes on the CITV Old Skool Weekend confirms that. I can just about remember Harry, and Ramsbottom who would go “‘ow do, Sweep!” sending the little dog into an attack of the jitters, but it’s Matthew I most recall. The gang interacting with celebs was highly amusing, you can’t have airs and graces around Sooty and Sweep.

    I was told about an episode where Sooty got a voice and it was incredibly loud, but never saw it. Can anyone confirm?

  6. Brian McNeill

    December 18, 2014 at 2:47 am

    yes and the ep when he gets his voice is on You Tube also stars Bernard Bresslaw as a Genie!

  7. Glenn A

    September 15, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    There was even an album released in 1973 where Harry Corbett takes off around the world with Sooty and Sweep in some kind of supersonic plane and they visit different countries with songs based around what they encounter. I had this album in the seventies.

  8. Andrew Barton

    October 14, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    There was the animated series, Sooty’s Amazing Adventures, made not long after Matthew Corbett sold the rights.

    Despite the talents of Jimmy Hibbert and Rob Rackstraw and produced by Cosgrove Hall, it’s not exactly remembered and according to rumours Richard Cadell junked the master tapes of it.

    Spare a thought for Susie Blake too, who voiced Soo. Her voice of Soo was no doubt at the time getting compared with Brenda Longman’s rendition, and doing the show probably cost her a role in Dinnerladies, given Victoria Wood and Geoff Posner (whose companies produced the show for the BBC) got most of the main As Seen on TV cast (even Julie Walters) back for it.

    Nowadays Susie Blake never talks of the Sooty animated series.

  9. Richardpd

    October 14, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    That’s interesting, I did wonder why Susie Blake didn’t appear in Dinnerladies, though a few others didn’t appear either.

  10. Glenn Aylett

    November 17, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    The voice of Soo was originally done by Harry Corbett’s wife, but as she was a heavy smoker and her voice deteriorated, she was replaced by Brenda Longman in the eighties.
    I did feel sorry for Matthew Corbett as he revealed he was bullied a lot at school for being the son of Harry Corbett, he had become totally typecast by the eighties as the human face of The Sooty Show, when he really wanted to be folk singer and an actor, and I didn’t blame him for selling the rights in the nineties for a sum that made him able to quit putting his hand up a toy bear. I did hear he did a series for Granada Television about canals and did some pub gigs as a folk singer.

  11. Richardpd

    November 18, 2023 at 11:46 am

    I remember there were a series of late Commodore 64 games based on children’s TV programmes.

    The Sooty one had a chiptuned version of the already awkward 1980s theme tune playing in the background in a loop!

  12. Glenn Aylett

    November 19, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Sooty Ever So Naughty Sooty would sound comical on an eighties computer.

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