Izzy, wizzy, let’s get busy, because Sooty and co., including his TV partner Richard Cadell, are coming to Fareham tomorrow.
Richard got into the world of Sooty when he won the young magician of the year award at the age of 15.
He says: ‘From this I was asked to appear on the Sooty show as a guest, and here I met [presenter] Matthew Corbett. When Matthew retired, he remembered me and got me in. I had the magical knowledge to partner Sooty and it was always a dream job of mine.’
Before he became Sooty’s right hand man, Richard was known for his stage illusisons. ‘I made motorcycles disapper and had girls in tanks, all kinds of crazy stuff,’ he says. ‘I drifted into children’s television when I was asked to support the Chuckle Brothers on their national tour, and perform my illusions on their show.’
Although he has many fond memories in his 14-year tenure as the man behind the bear, there is one that sticks out to Richard.
‘I had only just started presenting Sooty and I was asked by the then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie to go to 10 Downing Street and do a priavte party for about 20 child heroes and themselves.
‘I squirted Cherie Blair with a water pistol via Sooty and it was the front page of the News Of The World the next day. For me I thought “this is crazy, I have gone from being the support act for the Chuckle Brothers to being front page news.” Such is the power of Sooty.’
A highlight of the job for Richard is being able to take Sooty around the country to meet disadvantaged children.
‘The television show is so popular again that Sooty is very important to some children. For me to have the priviledge of bringing Sooty to a child that might be very ill is immensely rewarding.’
Richard says that while there is a skill to controlling the puppets, the relationship goes deeper than that.
‘I was very lucky to have Matthew Corbett as a bit of a mentor, and anyone who watched [Matthew’s father] Harry would say the art, the secret to it, is quite simply you have to love them and understand their little characters.
‘I do genuinely love Sooty, Sweep and Soo. I can tell you that when I’m working with Sooty I do not feel remotely connected to him in any way. He is his own little person and does his own little things. It comes from love: you have to love it and live it and breathe it.’
So how would he describe their characters?
‘Easy – Sooty is very naughty and mischievous and magical. He’s very clever, he’s an inventor. He’s the little boy everyone wants to be.
‘His best friend Sweep is a fool, he always gets things wrong. He’s the fall guy and Sooty’s the straight man.
‘And then you have got Soo who is very sensible, and everything a little girl would want to be. She loves dressing up and ponies and her collection of shoes. She loves Sooty but she suffers Sweep.’
The Sooty Show is at Ferneham Hall tomorrow at 11am and 2.30pm. Tickets £12-14, call 01329 231 942 or visit fernehamhall.co.uk