Sunday, September 30, 2012

I love Sooty! And I'm just wild about Harry too...

I was charmed when at the end of the documentary film The Peter Green Story (Man Of The World), the famous guitarist when asked something along the lines of whom he compared favorably to mischievously boasted of being better than Sooty, and then added, but maybe not Sooty with Sweep. No doubt this statement would entirely baffle most non-Brits unaware of ace toy xylophonist and nascent anarchist bear puppet Sooty. But Sooty has been around for over sixty years now!

Puppeteer Harry Corbett was a brilliant puppeteer, if you look him up on youtube you can discover the wonders of how he brings a simple bear puppet to life (by as one child is said to have remarked by putting his hand up Sooty's bottom). You can also (if you can play region 2 PAL format DVDs) watch a number of vintage "lost" episodes on two new releases well introduced by the current archivist and presenter of the Sooty Show, Richard Cadell. The sheer dexterity Mr. Corbett brought to bear as it were is inspiring; Sooty plays well enough to be hailed the Hendrix of the toy xylophone, and in a sort of spoof of industrial films goes from typing to removing specs and answering the telephone with a magician's skill. Aside from Greeny, Slade's Noddy Holder is another admirer (there is one scandalous photo of the two icons in bed together), and I have to think Johnny "Rotten" Lydon of the Sex Pistols may've learned a thing or two in biting the hand that feeds you from our Sooty!

With Sweep, an irrepressible squeaking dog puppet sidekick, Sooty is still entertaining the young and young at heart today.

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