It’s 45 years since Sooty and Sweep made their West End debuts with Harry Corbett. Their careers continued under the guidance of his son Matthew, whom many of today’s parents will remember, and they’ve been joined by a little panda named Soo.
Now they return to the West End in, or rather on, the capable hands of Richard Cadell, Matthew’s successor, in a new show for Christmas.
The trio are planning a Christmas party and hoping Santa will come along. They need to decorate the tree and bake a cake while Soo has to change her dress at least five times – giving plenty of scope for laughs and mishaps.
There’s flying tinsel, flour on faces and a good old cream fight just for starters. Of course Sooty is a magic bear and scarcely more than five minutes passes without the audience being asked to join in the time-honoured refrain: “Izzy wizzy, let’s get busy”.
There are more treats when two veterans from Matthew’s era - Butch and Ramsbottom - sing their version of “When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney” and Harry the Robot pops in. Santa makes an appearance too with presents for all. But the star guests have to be a troop of performing budgies whose trainer Norman Barrett deserves a medal.
This is show aimed at the younger members of its audience. Unlike panto there are few asides to the adults, no risque humour, just plenty of old-fashioned fun. If you have a small child, or can borrow one, go and see it, if only to be reminded that children don’t need loud music, high-speed chases, or ten gags a minute to have a good time.