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Sooty and Sweep to take stage at Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 August 2014

Sooty (left) and Richard Cadell, 45. Picture: Queen's Theatre

Sooty (left) and Richard Cadell, 45. Picture: Queen's Theatre

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A mischievous yellow bear is due to take to the stage and delight audiences with a brand of British children’s slapstick comedy.

The yellow bear in question – Sooty – and his friends are set to entertain adults and children alike at the Queen’s Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch.

Classic characters Sweep and Soo along with Sooty star Richard Cadell, who has featured in the Sooty TV show since 1999, will join the much-loved glove puppet in the stage adaptation.

The story follows Sooty – who was created by puppeteer Harry Corbett in 1948 – and his preparations for his birthday party, which is sure to make audiences howl with laughter.

Children’s TV veteran Richard , 45, said: “It’s doing really well, it’s selling out everywhere we go.”

The stage production, which is touring the country, has already proved to be popular with children as well as adults. He said: “All the parents and grandparents know it and have grown up with it and people want to relive their youths too.”

The show features classic Sooty fun, with pies flying into faces and Sooty’s recognisable charm.

Richard, who bought the rights to the show in 2008, said: “The great thing is we’re able to do 
exactly what we do on the TV show but I am very conscious that there are a lot of adults in the audience too – so there are a lot of gags in the show for them.

“The TV show is wonderful but there’s nothing like doing it for real on stage.”

The production, which aims to stay true to its roots, includes illusions and magic tricks, as well as audience participation and dancing to complement the comedy.

Richard said: “We do far more slapstick than other shows can get away with – Sooty’s allowed to get away with a lot more!”

Audiences get to meet the puppets – including Soo the sensible panda and Sweep a squeaking dog – at the end of each show. “The kids get to meet Sooty and you see the power that it has. When I see that, I just remember how privileged I am – it’s such an important thing for them.”

Sooty started out as a stage show in its early years before hitting TV screens in 1952, with the hand puppet and his co-stars remaining as children’s TV regulars ever since.

Richard said: “It’s unique that it’s been on the TV for 60 years. It’s still one of the highest watched shows on ITV!”

Matthew Corbett, the son of the original Sooty host, took over the TV show in 1976 before Richard continued to build on the puppet’s legacy, introducing the characters to a new generation of children.

The Sooty Show performer added: “It’s wonderful that in this generation that with all these high budget CGI shows, we’re still using puppets to entertain children – children haven’t really changed. I think people really trust Sooty too.”

Richard, who owns the rights to the show with his brother, is planning to take Sooty to the big screen, with a Sooty feature film in the works.

He said: “I did feel a pressure initially when I first started working on Sooty and it’s only now that I know my subject well enough that I feel that I’m qualified to do it. It’s very easy for me to say, ‘Sooty wouldn’t do that’.” The stage show runs August 21-23, with six showings of the production.

To book call 017 0844 3333.

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