SOOTY, “the nation’s favourite magic yellow bear”, turned 75 this summer, and to celebrate he’s heading out on tour with pals Sweep and Soo and their right-hand man of 25 years, Richard Cadell.

The Sooty Show - 75th Birthday Spectacular is at the Alhambra on Saturday, October 21 at 11am and 2.30pm.

Sooty is something of a local hero, having been created in 1948 by Bradford-born Harry Corbett, nephew of Guiseley chip shop giant Harry Ramsden. Harry bought the puppet from a stall in Blackpool for his son Matthew.

The Sooty Show first appeared on television in the 1950s and is now the world’s longest-running children’s TV show.

In 1975 Matthew took over, with Corbett senior making occasional appearances on The Sooty Show.

The World of Sooty museum opened in in Shipley in 1987, and the much-loved yellow bear has regularly returned to the stage in Bradford. In 1998 Matthew Corbett ended his partnership with the famous glove puppet, having declared that he’d retire when both he and Sooty reached 50, and handed the reins to Richard Cadell.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Matthew and Harry Corbett with Sooty at the opening of the World of Sooty museumMatthew and Harry Corbett with Sooty at the opening of the World of Sooty museum (Image: Newsquest)

What can audiences expect from Sooty’s new show - and will they need to bring a raincoat?

Says Richard: “Well, it’s Sooty‘s 75th birthday, so we want audiences to feel like they’re at a big party. There’ll be games, audience participation, a special guest from Blackpool Tower Circus, and members of Sooty’s family - Butch, Ramsbottom and little cousin Scampi. Rest assured Sooty will have his brand new super soaker ready!”

A veteran of showbiz, Sooty has toured many times over his 75 years. What’s in his backstage rider? “Being the silent type, he’s not too loud with demands," says Richard. "However, he does insist on a healthy portion of fish and chips before he goes on stage. Fish and chips have always been in Sooty’s family.”

What are some highlights of Sooty’s recent years? “We’ll never top being invited to King Charles’s 70th birthday celebrations. Seeing Charles and Camilla laugh at Sooty and Sweep’s antics is something I’ll never forget. We also launched Sooty Land at Devon’s Crealy Theme Park and Resort. It’s gone down a storm with fans.”

A recent survey revealed Sooty and Sweep to be the British public’s favourite childhood TV characters. What’s the secret to Sooty’s longevity?

Says Richard: “Firstly he’s a teddy bear and most children love teddy bears before they can speak. But the biggest secret is the simplicity. I think all of us, including the children watching, know what’s going on under the table and because of that we enjoy it for the simple thing it is. Everyone can pretty much do the show behind their own settee!

"It’s also one of the few shows that hasn’t changed, so grandparents love it for that.”

The Sooty Show has had many famous guests. Who’s been your favourite? “The most poignant guest was Matthew Corbett. He agreed to come out of retirement for a one-off episode. It was nearly 20 years since he’d worked with Sooty, it felt very special on set.

"And of course he was brilliant.”

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