David Newton (davidn) wrote,
David Newton

Sooty and (Nick)co

"Why on earth is Nicko McBrain in a drum duel with Sooty and Sweep?" was the first thought that crossed my mind when I found this video (and that didn't change throughout its running time). I think Sweep might have won for using his ears as well towards the end.

I feel obliged to go into more detail about this to prevent anyone who didn't grow up in Britain getting the impression that Sooty was a wholesome Mr Rogers-type show just because it starred a band of fluffy puppets. In fact, quite the opposite - often it was a champion of chaos, scheming and general anarchy, and therefore much loved by little horrors everywhere. A few clicks on the frankly dangerous Related Videos links led me to the episode about the car boot sale, for example, which - after getting deceptively heartbreaking! - rapidly turns into the gang emotionally blackmailing Matthew Corbett into buying £17 of stuff he already owned back from them.

Quite apart from their habit of attacking their owner with water pistols every time his back was turned, it was the anarchist puppets' unique forms of communication that stood out. Soo (who I always thought was called Sue) tended to be the spokesperson of the group, being the only one whose speech was immediately understandable. Sooty himself, while meant to be the star of the show, was as silent as a JRPG protagonist, and only ever made what he was thinking known by whispering in the long-suffering host's ear. In between these two modes of speech, Sweep communicated entirely through squeaks of varying pitch and intensity. Actually it's rather incredible how expressive he is for something that never uses any words - a lot of the time you can somehow hear exactly what he's saying in English even without the aid of prompting from the others (see from 2:30 onwards in that second video, for example). If memory serves correctly, this speech pattern also allowed them to sneak in some rather non-U-rated things without being noticed, much like the "Oh, sod it, the bloody thing's stuck again" incident on The Clangers.

Yes, I was watching Sooty on Youtube (and furthermore finding it quite hilarious) and I'm 24. I get the feeling that something's gone appallingly wrong with my life somewhere.
Tags: television

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