Richard, what made Sooty and the gang want to go to outer space?
Well, firstly let me say I’m a bit worried. Sooty and Sweep have had no formal Space training but insist they are expert astronauts. They’ve spent six weeks locked in the shed building a rocket and are determined to launch it. The idea came about one breakfast time when Soo said she fancied a shopping trip to Comet before it closed and the boys got the wrong end of the stick…
As usual, we expect that the trip will be filled with their usual mischief and mishaps. Can you give us an idea of any naughtiness that Sooty gets up to on this escapade?
Well I don’t want to give too much away but there will be a memorable incident with a three legged Martian, and let’s just say Sooty’s flying saucer joke normally leaves me with a sore head. Why I keep falling for it, I’ll never know.
Long-suffering Soo will be at the controls, will she have her hands too full to keep Sooty and Sweep in check?
Actually, Soo has decided she won’t be flying the rocket. She’s convinced the boys will make too much mess in the cockpit so she’s staying with me at Mission Control to maintain the satellite communication. Of the three of them, she’s always been the one with her feet on the ground. (not that we’ve ever seen them….)
Has Sooty packed his water pistol for the journey?
Of course! In fact he’s gone one better - he’s made a Space Ray Gun to protect us from any unwanted aliens - it fires a jet of water almost 40ft – so anyone on the front row could be in for a soaking.
Sooty's Christmas shows are becoming something of a fixture these days, would you say with such a focus on family that they are the perfect time of year for the show?
Seriously -yes. Families generally make that extra effort to all get together over the festive season and every generation has grown up loving Sooty. So it’s the perfect treat. It really is the case the adults have just as much fun as the kids.
Outside of the stage-show on the current Sooty TV series you are all in residence at a holiday camp. How is that going?
Fantastic! It’s been a great success and is now one of the most popular shows on Citv – they show it every weekday- sometimes twice a day. We are making 26 new episodes next year so we’re very busy coming up with all the ideas. It’s great fun – and being set on the holiday camp is such a great place for Sooty and Sweep to cause havoc. It’s actually a real holiday resort so all the crowd scenes are real holidaymakers who suddenly find themselves in The Sooty Show. I love it.
Sooty's creator, Harry Corbett first premiered Sooty on television in 1952 after having purchased the original puppet a few years earlier for his son, Matthew. Matthew later took over after his father's retirement in 1976, and you took over from Matthew in 1998. How does it feel to be part of such a small iconic family lineage? Do you feel part of Sooty's family yourself?
I am truly honoured to have followed such great performers. Harry was a genius and is, and always will be, Sooty’s true father. Matthew was a superb comedy performer with the writing ability to keep Sooty topical and popular. He’s also a great friend who has guided and supported me, indeed he has written much of “Sooty in Space” and also provides the voice of Harry the Robot in the show. Only now, after presenting the show for nearly 15 years ,do I feel qualified to say that I’m part of the family. It’s my responsibility to look after Sooty so he can carry on entertaining future generations of children.
Recent Doctor Who actor, Arthur Darvill, featured in one of Sooty's earlier TV series as Tom. Do you think he'll be popping in to catch up with his old furry pals?
I remember that episode – it was actually around 2003 when we were running the Sooty Heights Hotel and Sooty covered him in Pizza - so I’m not sure if he’ll chance a second encounter... but he’d be very welcome to call in and get his own back. Sooty loves a good pizza fight. On the last series Sooty threw a pizza at Paul Daniels and hospitalised him – It was front page news. So Arthur got off lightly.
Sooty never seems to age - has he found the fountain of youth, or is it staying young at heart that keeps him looking so sprightly?
Yes, something like that …and good fabric conditioner.
He's run a shop and a hotel, and now he's in space. Where would you like to see Sooty adventure next? Could we see Sooty on Safari perhaps, or Sooty at Sea?
Sooty at Sea? We’d sink for sure. Sooty Safari sounds great - maybe we should send Sooty and Sweep into the jungle for “I’m A Celebrity” – surely they’d win? Let’s start a petition.
What do you think is the key to Sooty's appeal that has kept him and his friends in the nation's hearts for so many years?
Its simplicity - its innocence – its charm. Everybody knows what they are going to get - magic, music, mess and lots of laughs. How can it fail?
Sooty In Space is playing at the Duchess Theatre for a limited run from the 21st December to the 5th January. Book your tickets here