Sooty, Sweep and Soo from The Sooty show
Created in 1948 for children’s TV these characters are record breakers as part of the longest running show in children’s television history. All three characters have taken on various forms over the years and were later joined by a fourth puppet, Little cousin Scampy.
Sooty’s character is a mute bear who can communicate with the person controlling him by whispering. The original bear was completely yellow however the puppets’ creator Harry Corbett covered his nose and ears with soot to enable the puppet to appear more effectively on black and white television.
This puppet, which takes the form of a dog, joined the show in 1957 and communicates via a sound which has been compared to a saxophone reed which was often understood through syllable count. His character is the perfect example of employing silly behaviour and a fondness for certain food types to enhance appeal to kids. Unusually for a puppet he sometimes wore wellingtons.
Appearing in 1964 as Sooty’s girlfriend, Soo is a Panda and the only one of the characters from the show to have a voice, often acting as the sensible voice of reason between the other two puppets.
These puppets are excellent examples which show that voices aren’t always necessary for a puppet to create a relationship with its audience.
Basil Brush from The Basil Brush Show
A puppet that has outlived many cartoons, Basil Brush is a humanistic fox known for his mischievous catchphrase ‘Ha Ha, Boom Boom’ which uses when he finds something funny. His voice is posh and articulate, more than likely to attribute him to England and make the fox appear more charming to a British audience. Quite an intelligent puppet that has been so successful we think because of his humane and eloquent character – rather different to the usual daft characters broadcast on children’s television.
Rosie and Jim
Two ragdoll puppets that live on a narrow boat called The Ragdoll and come to life when no one is looking. They explore the areas that they pass by while riding on the canal. The idea behind the hit 90s show was that children were able to experience the world around them through the pair’s adventures – although the two of them often caused trouble. Unlike the previous two characters, these puppets aren’t operated by hand, but strings making them appear more lifelike and allowing them to interact with objects along their adventures.
Baby Sinclair – Dinosaurs
As the youngest member of the Sinclair family this ‘Meglosaurus’ was a disobedient little baby and the source of much entertainment for 90s kids in the American children’s programme, Dinosaurs. He was used to front most of the marketing for the show appearing in assorted toy types and a music video. The arms of this hand puppet were operated separately to the eyes for the character.
This character is among some of the most iconic puppets from children’s television and has long outlasted the show, Rainbow which ran from 1972. Operated by hand it is unclear what type of creature he is. A brownish orange colour with a rugby ball shaped head and a zip for a mouth; he managed to appeal to kids in the 70s retaining his cult following with people of all ages, including teens. His habitually loud behaviour and shrill voice often saw him get into trouble with characters in the show which often resulted in his mouth being zipped shut.
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