Sooty And Co. (CITV, 1993-1998)
Sooty has been a remarkably long-running and very successful character on children’s TV, having first appeared in the 50s. He is of course the small bear who’s never had that much to say for himself but he’s entertained lots of people over many decades with his antics, first alongside Harry Corbett. His son Matthew took over the act in 1976 and hosted The Sooty Show which was made by Thames for CITV until 1992.
After Thames lost their licence, the show returned with a different format in 1993 called Sooty And Co. which was made by Granada and was my favourite of all the versions of Sooty that there have been on TV over the years. The idea was that Matthew and Sooty, along with dog Sweep, panda Soo along with Sooty’s cousin Scampi, were now running a junk shop in Manchester.
And of course, there was chaos. Matthew was always trying to run the shop but Sooty and his friends were always up to something. He was always trying to do his most famous things including magic tricks that went wrong or squirting people with water and there were a lot of funny moments plus a few guest stars on the show.
Sooty And Co. ran for six series and ended when Matthew Corbett who also wrote the show retired in 1998. Also around this time there was a cartoon version of Sooty on CITV but it was nowhere as good as this show. I also remember there being a special edition of An Audience With… featuring Sooty in 1996. A few episodes of Sooty And Co. were released on VHS in the 90s, but none have come out on DVD, although there are lots of clips on YouTube. A classic episode was also shown as part of the CITV Old Skool Weekend in 2013.
Sooty still has a show on the CITV Channel to this day, over 60 years since his first TV appearance, although again it’s in a different format and Richard Cadell is now the man in charge. Sooty also tours the country frequently appearing in stage shows and long may he continue.