The bear is back. Just not in Blackpool. But surely one of Blackpool’s biggest name entertainers is worth a pilgrimage to Preston’s Charter Theatre on Sunday.
Sooty is the definitive sandgrown’un – or grandsewn’un. Blackpool through and through. He was bought at a North Pier booth by the late Harry Corbett.
The rest is history. His story – and that of Soo, Sweep and friends. Now he’s in the safe hands of Richard Cadell who has made the tiny glove puppet bear – still a feature in Blackpool Lights – his own.
Sooty now faces an epic adventure over the rainbow to meet The Wizard of Oz – at Preston Charter Theatre. Not to be confused with the Wizard of Oz heading for Blackpool too, which stars Bobby Davro.
Richard explains: “Sooty’s a great magician so its easy to see why he would want to meet the wizard– and as for Sweep – well we’ve always wondered if he actually had a brain so maybe the wizard will fix him up too!
But really, The Wizard of Oz is a classic children’s tale that has spanned the generations, as has Sooty,so it’s a perfect fit.
Both Sooty and The Wizard of Oz have characters and story lines that parents enjoy just as much as children
“Both Sooty and The Wizard of Oz have characters and story lines that parents enjoy just as much as children. It’s good old slapstick fun.
“Everybody has grown up watching Sooty and it evokes happy childhood memories for so many.
“In this fast and ever-changing world, Sooty has remained unaffected– still the naughty magical bear everybody loves.”
Richard’s determined to keep the magic alive.
He says: “Maybe it’s a little faster than it was 50 years ago but apart from that I’m hugely proud to say we’ve changed nothing. So many children’s shows have been tweaked and lost something along the way.
“The Sooty Show is exactly as Harry Corbett created it – and it shall remain that way.”
Richard himself has a hand in the action too.
He’s playing the Scarecrow – and if he could have one wish what would it be? “An extension to this theatre tour!” he laughs.
“Doing the TV show is great but you can’t beat the buzz of a live show. Sooty transfers seamlessly from TV to stage. So when the children come to the theatre there’s no disappointment.
“And when they come up on the stage anything could happen and often does. Never talk down to children – they are far wiser than you think!”
Richard bought the rights to Sooty and his friends in 2008, and set about the little bear’s revival.
And the next trick?
Richard reveals: “We are production for Sooty The Movie, which is just incredible really.”