The Sooty Show

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The Sooty Show
The Sooty Show title card (1981–1984)
Presented byHarry Corbett (1955–1975)
Matthew Corbett (1976–1992)
StarringMarjorie Corbett
(The voice of Soo from

Brenda Longman
(The voice of Soo from
Composer(s)Alan Braden
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series43
No. of episodes481 (92 missing)
Production location(s)Teddington Studios
Running time10–20 minutes
Production company(s)BBC (1955–1967)
Thames Television (1968–1992)
DistributorBBC (BBC series)
Fremantle (Thames series)
Original networkBBC (1955–1967)
ITV (1968–1992)
Original release24 July 1955 (1955-07-24) –
30 November 1992 (1992-11-30)
Followed bySooty & Co. (1993–1998)

The Sooty Show is a British children's television series, created by Harry Corbett[1], presented by both him and his son Matthew Corbett, and featuring the voice talents of Marjorie Corbett and Brenda Longman. The programme was initially produced for the BBC from 1955 to 1967, and then was produced for ITV through Thames Television from 1968, until its final episode on 30 November 1992. The show focuses on the many mischievous adventures of glove puppet characters Sooty, and those of his friends Sweep since 1957, Soo since 1964, and Little Cousin Scampi since 1990, and featured a variety of additional glove puppet characters and guest stars.

When the programme first premiered on 24 July 1955, it was broadcast on a sketch-based format with a studio audience, and remained so throughout Corbett's era as presenter from 1955 to 1975. After his retirement from entertainment, Matthew retained the format, upon buying the rights to Sooty from his father, until it was decided to change the programme's format in 1981 towards a more sitcom-based format that would take place within a country cottage called "Sooteries", which included a few educational elements and the use of songs and narrations, conducted by Matthew, in various scenes involving the puppet characters only.

The Sooty Show proved a success with children's television, creating sequels such as Sooty & Co. in 1993 after the programme's conclusion, several stage shows, and even a spin-off during its later years entitled Learn With Sooty, as well as a collection of VHS and DVDs featuring episodes set around the programme's second format.


When the children's programme first premiered, Harry Corbett focused the format towards a series of comedy sketches aimed at entertaining children, conducting most of the filming within a studio and in the presence of a young audience. The format remained unchanged during the programme's tenure with the BBC, and continued to remain so after it moved over to ITV in 1968, and following Harry's retirement in 1976. Matthew Corbett maintained the format until 1981, when it was decided that it be changed towards a sitcom-based style of programme, dropping the use of a studio audience and a series of misadventures, and exchanging these for a single misadventure for each subsequent episode. As part of the change, the show incorporated the use of scenes taking place within a home that both Matthew and Sooty, alongside Soo and Sweep, lived in, alongside additional scenes filmed in various outdoor locations.

Under the sitcom format, the group lived within a house that incorporated various rooms for them, including an attic space, a kitchen/dining area, bedrooms, and bathrooms, of which specially designed sets were created for use by the puppet characters, that were later updated and maintained in subsequent Sooty programmes - the bathroom created for this setup was specially designed so that the miniature faucets and shower head both dispensed running water. The main premise of each episode was that the group were attempting something new that would go wrong, or attempting to fix a problem that they had encountered. Some episodes also tended to be educational in various ways - the episode "What a Load of Rubbish" was aimed at teaching children about helping to keep the environment clean of rubbish. The new format also drew in the involvement of a variety of guest stars, including Mike Reid, Dennis Taylor, Mark Chamberlain, June Whitfield, and Rory McGrath. The use of guest stars were more frequent during the 1980s, but reduced within the show's final three series.


  • Harry Corbett (1955–1975) - The show's first presenter and the creator of Sooty. Corbett ran the programme mostly within a sketch-based format throughout his era, later creating the characters of Sweep and Soo to accompany the show. His most notable contribution to the show, aside from the puppet characters, was the catchphrase he used to conclude an episode's run, that would continue to be used by his successors - "Bye bye, everybody. Bye bye." Harry returned to the programme as a guest star during his son Matthew's era, and was knighted with an OBE for his contributions with the programme and characters following his retirement.
  • Matthew Corbett (1976–1992) - The show's second presenter. Matthew took over in 1976, having initially worked in children's television, and maintained the same format as his father up until 1981. After the show's format was changed to a sitcom-based arrangement, Matthew transformed himself on screen into a well-meaning father figure, but also a character who was slightly conceited with pomposity and boasting, to compliment the mayhem created by Sooty and Sweep.
  • Marjorie Corbett (1964–1981) - The first voice of Soo, whom her husband Harry had created as a talking female panda. She remained a part of the show until its format change.
  • Brenda Longman (1981–1992) - The second voice of Soo, following Majorie's retirement from the role, who also made frequent guest appearances as various characters within the show's sitcom format. Longman remained with the programme until its conclusion, and continued to work with Matthew and his successor Richard Caddell on subsequent sequels of The Sooty Show and other Sooty productions in the same role.

Puppet Characters[edit]

  • Sooty – A mute yellow male bear, and the main protagonist of the show alongside its human presenters. The show introduced his trademark traits of tapping a surface to whisper into the presenter's ear what he wishes to say, owning a magic wand, the use of his magic words "Izzy wizzy, let's get busy!", and his fondness for using a water pistol.
  • Sweep – A grey male dog, and Sooty's best friend, who was created in 1957[2]. His trademark voice of bizarre squeaks was achieved by his original puppeteer Leslie Corbett, through a reed from an saxophone in his mouth to create the sounds.
  • Soo – A calm and collected female panda with a normal human voice, who was created in 1964. The character's design was towards being a foil for both Sooty and Sweep, but with a motherly-like nature to her personality. She was originally voiced by Harry's wife Marjorie Corbett until 1981, whereupon after the show's format changed, she was voiced by Brenda Longman until the show's conclusion in 1992.
  • Butch – A dark brown male dog, similar to Sweep, but able to talk. Introduced by Harry Corbett in the early 1970s, the character was withdrawn by his son Matthew in 1980, returning to guest star in the role of a villain.
  • Mr. Woof - A Yorkshire terrier who is a friend of Sweep, he barks in communication, eats and sleeps.
  • Ramsbottom – A brown male snake who spoke in a deep Yorkshire accent and had the habit of telling rather convoluted stories and ditties. The chracter was created by Harry Corbett, but retired by his son Matthew.
  • Little Cousin Scampi – A mute white bear and Sooty's cousin. The character was created by Matthew Corbett and introduced in an episode of the same title in 1990, and was designed to be a mischeivous bear who liked pranks, making inventions and caring for mice. The character became a regular member of the puppet characters from 1991, and beyond the programme's conclusion in 1992.



From its premiere in 1955, The Sooty Show was aired on BBC One until 1967, when it was cancelled by Paul Fox, the controller of BBC One at the time. Part of the reason for the cancellation was due to his decision to clear out long-running television programmes on the channel to make way for new shows. The programme remained on hiatus until it was picked up by ITV in 1968[3], who assigned its broadcast over to Thames Television shortly after its launch. The programme continued to operate on ITV until Thames lost its franchise rights with ITV in 1992. Alongside broadcasts in the UK, the show was also given international broadcasts in Australia on ABC, in New Zealand on TVNZ, and in the United States on American Broadcasting Company (ABC).


The success of The Sooty Show led to the formation of the Sooty franchise. The programme spawned several sequels after it's conclusion in 1992, which all stuck to the same sitcom format of The Sooty Show - a sequel in 1993 entitled Sooty & Co.; a second sequel entitled Sooty Heights, later renamed Sooty from 1999 to 2004; and a third sequel, also entitled Sooty in 2011. In addition, it also spawned several spin-offs - an educational programme entitled Learn With Sooty from 1989 to 1991; an animated spin-off entitled Sooty's Amazing Adventures! that ran between 1996 to 1997; and a spin-off entitled Sooty's Magic Show! (2000–2002). In addition, the programme spawned several forms of merchandising and stage shows.

UK home media releases[edit]

VHS Title Release Date Episodes
The Adventures of Sooty (VC1049) 7 April 1986 Sleepwalking, Snuffles, The Magic Show, Sooty's Panto
Sooty & Superdog (TV9919) 3 November 1986 All Blocked Up, The Dancer, Superdog
Sooty – Out and About (TV9959) 5 October 1987 Stately Home, Rabbit Trap, Football Crazy
Sooty and Co & Sooty's House (TV8432) 5 October 1987 On the Piste, Down Dog, Marathon, Perfume, Bad Luck, White Lies
Children's Favourites – Volume 2 (TV8011) 1 February 1988 Burglar Box (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Sooty – The Big Surprise (TV8027) 4 April 1988 The Big Surprise, Return of Superdog, Overnight Away
Sooty – Sooty's Time Capsule/Ventriloquism (WP0003) 7 November 1988 Time Capsule, Ventriloquism
The Sooty Christmas Show (TV8041) 7 November 1988 Sooty's Busy Christmas, Hidden Talent
Sooty's Restaurant (TV8055) 6 February 1989 Restaurant, Health Food
Sooty's School Trip (TV8047) 10 April 1989 School Trip, Tap Time, Moving House
Sooty's Stately Home and Other Stories (LL0026) 1 May 1989 Stately Home, Ancestors, Millionaire
Sooty's Magic Lamp and Other Stories (LL0027) 1 May 1989 Sooty's Magic Lamp, Cuddly Toys, Make and Do
Children's Favourites Vol. 3 (LL0032) 1 May 1989 Amateur Dramatics (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Children's Favourites Vol. 4 (LL0033) 1 May 1989 When I Was a Lad (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Children's Summer Stories (TV8060) 5 June 1989 Messing About in Boats (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Sooty's Christmas Party and Other Stories (TV8073) 2 October 1989 Sooty's Christmas Party, Royalty, Get Your Skates on
Children's Favourites: Bedtime Stories (TV8077) 6 November 1989 Star Gazing (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Sooty – Sooty's Favourite Stories (TV8082) 5 February 1990 Radio Control Car, Honking Nose, Sweep's Family
Children's Holiday Favourites (TV8093) 4 June 1990 A Very Special Day (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Rod, Jane and Freddy'.)
Sooty Wants a Pet (TV8098) 2 July 1990 Sooty Wants a Pet, The Unreal Ghostbusters, In Camera
Sooty's Golf Crazy Golf (TV8099) 2 July 1990 Sooty's Golf Crazy Golf, Down Under, Grin and Bear it
Sooty's Bumper Special (TV8112) 10 September 1990 Inventors, Fat and 40, Stay Awake, Nothing Ever Happens, Bowled Over
Sooty and Rainbow (WP0025) 8 October 1990 The Good, The Bad and The Furry (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow'.)
Children's Club: Children's Favourites (KK0005) 4 February 1991 When I Was a Lad (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow' and 'Button Moon'.)
Sooty – Sooty's Big Time Video (TV8081) 4 February 1991 Just Not Cricket, Bangers and Smash, Water Sports, Dyb, Dyb Disaster
Sooty Video Fun Pack (TB8001) 5 August 1991 Izzy Wizzy, Love a Duck
Little Cousin Scampi and Other Stories (WH1023) 7 October 1991 Little Cousin Scampi, Sticky Situation, Gardeners for Hire
Sooty Video Fun Pack Re-Release (TB0001) 6 January 1992 Izzy Wizzy, Love a Duck
Sooty – Matt Robot and Other Stories (TV8157) 3 February 1992 Matt Robot, Return of Scampi, Car Boot Sale
Sooty – Hair Today and Other Stories (TV8158) 3 February 1992 Hair Today, Derek's Back, Any 5-Year-Old Can Do it
Sooty – Three Men in a Boat and Other Stories (TV8161) 1 June 1992 Three Men in a Boat, Cars, Trains, Boats and Planes, Swinging the Lead
Sooty – Only Joking and Other Stories (TV8162) 1 June 1992 Only Joking, Boarding House, Bored Games
Sooty – What a Load of Rubbish & Collecting (LW0001) 5 October 1992 What a Load of Rubbish, Collecting
The Christmas Collection (TV8165) 5 October 1992 Early Christmas (Compilation VHS with 'Rainbow and 'The Wind in the Willows'.)
My Bumper Christmas Sooty (TV8266) 27 October 1997 A Summertime Christmas, Little Terrors, Sooty's Christmas Party, Sooty's Busy Christmas
Sooty – Biggest Party Video (TV8269) 23 March 1998 Happy Birthday Sooty, Back to Front, Soo's Party Problem, Sweep's Family, Bored Games
Sooty – Wet & Wild Water Fun 9 October 2000 A Very Special Day, Three Men in a Boat, Water Sports
Cult Kids Classics 2 5 March 2001 Superdog (Compilation VHS with 'Jamie and the Magic Torch', 'Danger Mouse', 'Chorlton and the Wheelies', 'Rainbow', and 'Count Duckula'.)
Sweep Superdog 13 August 2001 Superdog and the Comedian, Bouncers, Hot Stuff, Sweep's Family, Honking Nose, Swinging the Lead
DVD Title Release Date Episodes
Cult Kids Classics 2 5 March 2001 Superdog (Compilation DVD with 'Jamie and the Magic Torch', 'Danger Mouse', 'Chorlton and the Wheelies', 'Rainbow', and 'Count Duckula'.)
Sweep Superdog 13 August 2001 Superdog and the Comedian, Bouncers, Hot Stuff, Sweep's Family, Honking Nose, Swinging the Lead
The Original Sooty Show – Wet & Wild Water Fun 15 July 2002 A Very Special Day, Three Men in a Boat, Water Sports
Classic Kids Hits: from School Disco 8 September 2003 Super Star (Compilation DVD with 'Danger Mouse', 'Rainbow', 'Button Moon', 'Chorlton and the Wheelies', and 'Jamie and the Magic Torch'.)
Sooty – Wet & Wild Water Fun 2 April 2007 A Very Special Day, Three Men in a Boat, Water Sports
The Sooty Show – Izzy Wizzy 7 July 2008 Izzy Wizzy, Little Terrors, Sooty's Magic Lamp
The Sooty Show – Happy Birthday, Sooty 7 July 2008 Happy Birthday, Sooty, Sooty Wants a Pet, Honking Nose
The Sooty Show – Izzy Wizzy Re-Release 19 April 2010 Izzy Wizzy, Little Terrors, Sooty's Magic Lamp
The Sooty Show – Happy Birthday, Sooty Re-Release 19 April 2010 Happy Birthday, Sooty, Sooty Wants a Pet, Honking Nose
Sooty – The Big Surprise 19 April 2010 The Big Surprise, Hidden Talent, Sticky Situation, Little Cousin Scampi, Fanatical Fun
The Sooty Show – Izzy Wizzy Let's Get Busy 13 July 2015 Izzy Wizzy, Little Terrors, Sooty's Magic Lamp

Also, in January 2008, a promotional DVD containing 5 early-1980s episodes was distributed by The Times newspaper, for Fremantle Media. The episodes featured were: Bob a Job; Safety First; Sleep Walking; Connie Comes to Tea; and Sooty's Christmas Panto.


  1. ^ "About Us". The Sooty Show. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  2. ^ "About Us". The Sooty Show. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  3. ^ Tucker, Anthony (2015-01-13). "BBC to let Sooty go: from the archive, 13 January 1968". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-04-11.

External links[edit]