Righthand man to Blackpool legend Sooty opens up ahead of the gang's shows in the North West

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The Lancashire born iconic character Sooty is part way through his latest national tour and he is heading back to his hometown, Blackpool, with the show very soon.

Sooty, the nation’s favourite magic yellow bear, celebrated his 75th birthday in July and to mark the anniversary, Sooty, Sweep & Soo and their right-hand man of 25 years Richard Cadell are back with a 42 venue theatre tour across the UK: ‘The Sooty Show - 75th Birthday Spectacular!’ 

The tour started in October 2023 and following a two month haitus, Sooty and the gang will be bringing their much-loved mix of chaos, mischief and mayhem to a new set of venues from January 27- including back where it all started in Blackpool

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Ahead of the tour's second leg, Richard Cadwell sat down to discuss the significance of Sooty, why he holds such a place in so many people’s hearts, how Sooty became the world’s longest running children’s TV programme and what people can expect from the theatre tour! 

Take a look at the interview with Richard below...

Richard Cadwell has been thr righthand man to Sooty, Sweep and Soo for 25 years.Richard Cadwell has been thr righthand man to Sooty, Sweep and Soo for 25 years.
Richard Cadwell has been thr righthand man to Sooty, Sweep and Soo for 25 years.

What can audiences expect when they come to a show and will they need to bring a raincoat for Sooty’s new water pistol? 

Richard: "Well, this tour is different as it is Sooty‘s 75th birthday, so we want all the audience to feel like they are guests at a big party.  

"There will be lots of games, audience participation, dances and prizes. We have a special guest from Blackpool Tower Circus to add some spectacular skills to the proceedings.  

"Also coming to the party will be some well-loved members of Sooty’s family – Butch, Ramsbottom, and little cousin Scampi. But rest assured there’ll be all the usual nonsense and Sooty will absolutely have his brand-new super soaker ready, so anybody sat anywhere near the front will definitely need a poncho!" 

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Sooty has been on tour so many times now - is he a bit of nightmare?  

Richard: "Being the silent type, he’s not too loud with his demands. 

"However, he does insist on a healthy portion of fish and chips before he goes on stage. This is because fish and chips have always been in Sooty’s family. Harry Corbett‘s parents owned a fish and chip shop, and Harry Corbett’s uncle was the fish and chip magnate Harry Ramsden, fact!" 

How do you reflect on your 25 years as Sooty’s right hand man?  

Richard: "Well, it only seems five minutes ago, that’s for sure. It’s never felt like work. In fact, it’s hard to believe that for the last two and a half decades, I’ve made a living having pies put in my face and talking to myself!"  

Where is the weirdest place you’ve been recognised as Sooty’s companion?  

Richard: "I went on holiday with my family to Singapore, and we went to a waterpark.  

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"I got recognised by an adult just as I launched myself off a giant slide. He shouted ‘Sooty!!!’ as I jumped. It kind of put me off to be honest, funny as it was!"

Top left: Harry Corbett with the gang. Bottom left: Harry's successor, his son Matthew Corbett. Right: Richard with SootyTop left: Harry Corbett with the gang. Bottom left: Harry's successor, his son Matthew Corbett. Right: Richard with Sooty
Top left: Harry Corbett with the gang. Bottom left: Harry's successor, his son Matthew Corbett. Right: Richard with Sooty

Sooty is 75 but not slowing down, what are some of the highlights of his last few years?  

Richard: "Wow, there have been so many. I suppose we will never top being invited to King Charles’s 70th birthday celebrations. 

"Seeing Charles and Camilla laugh at Sooty and Sweep’s antics is something I’ll never forget.  

We also launched ‘Sooty Land’! A brand-new theme park devoted entirely to the world of Sooty, at Devon’s Crealy Theme Park and Resort. It has gone down an absolute storm with Sooty fans!  

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Sooty is the longest-running children’s TV show in the world and a recent SKY survey revealed Sooty and Sweep are Britain’s favourite childhood TV characters. What is the secret to the show's longevity and why people resonate so much with Sooty?  

Richard: "Well, firstly it’s a teddy bear and most children know and love teddy bears before they can speak. But the biggest secret is the simplicity of the whole thing. I think all of us, including the children watching, know what’s going on under the table and because of that we can enjoy it for the simple thing that it is. Everybody has had, or knows somebody that has a Sooty or Sweep puppet at home.   

"And everyone can pretty much do the show behind their own settee!  It’s also one of the very few shows that hasn’t changed and therefore when grandparents switch the television on for their children to watch, they know and recognise the same old things and they remember and love it all the more for that."

Sooty is now 75 years old-what's his secret to looking so young?  

Richard: "I think him and Cliff Richard have the same secret! We’ve often said it’s good fabric conditioner!  

"Recently he was accused of Botox! Of course, he denied it – though thinking about it, I’ve never seen him blink…" 

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Who has been your favourite celebrity guest on The Sooty Show?  

Richard: "There have been so many very famous people pop up as guests on the show. It would be hard to pick a favourite, but I suppose in my time as presenter the most poignant celebrity guest was Matthew Corbett. He agreed to come out of retirement and star in a one-off episode. It was nearly 20 years since he had worked with Sooty, and it felt very special on set. And, of course he was brilliant.  

Finally, what do you enjoy most about doing the tours and traveling the country with Sooty?   

Richard: "Without doubt, I love performing on stage with the gang, but the real magic happens after the show when we take Sooty into the foyer to meet all the children and adults! Everybody can have their photographs taken with Sooty and that means so much to them. It’s a privilege to be able to do that and I adore every second." 

*‘The Sooty Show - 75th Birthday Spectacular!’ is on at:

-Stockport, The Plaza: Saturday, January 27

-Salford, The Lowry: Sunday, January 28 - St Helens, Theatre Royal: Saturday, February 3

- Blackpool, Grand Theatre: Sunday, March 31 and Monday, April 1 -Chester, Storyhouse: Wednesday, April 3

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