Here it is – another Sooty DVD from Abbey Home Media! The Sooty Halloween Special hit the shelves last week, and features Lily Allen, Mo from the Market, Matt Smith and Derren Brown!
Apologies, I’m lying. But they are just some of the jokey suggestions I’ve been known to make during Sooty writing confabs, (another involved the inclusion of sharks in The Swimming Lesson. It’s a wonder I’m still employed.)
Luckily, the good people who produced these episodes clearly had their heads screwed on the right way, and as a result we have a slapstick assortment that I truly love, and not just because I wrote two of them. It’s good, honest children’s entertainment, a rare commodity in the 21st century world dominated by soulless CGI and endless talent shows. Here’s what you can expect on Sooty’s latest outing…
The Haunted House
I have no memories of writing this one, (because I didn’t.) This first episode is based on an old Matthew Corbett ep from the late 1980s / early 1990s, and one that gave me torrid nightmares for weeks on end as a small child. The original version, titled The Unreal Ghostbusters, featured Matthew being confronted by a cackling, ghostly apparition of… himself. In a haunted house. Going, “It’s meeeeeeee, it’s meeeeeeeee, it’s magic…!” Oh my word – it still gives me the shivers. But, there’s not a Matthew clone to be seen in this new version (thankfully), but do keep ’em peeled for Maurice Thorogood (director of The Big Day Out) who makes an appearance as the mysterious butler.
This episode had an unlikely co-author – Richard Cadell’s dad! He mentioned the idea as we were driving to The Scriptwriting Nerve Centre for another day of creative contemplation. We originally decided to go big on the cuteness, and to have a sort of ‘charming’ instalment, which would end with Sooty and Soo gazing wistfully at the exploding rockets, whilst the people around them gleefully devoured toffee apples and parkin! At some point, some bright spark (sorry) decided that some jokes may in fact be a positive thing in a comedy show(!) and the stuff about the lavatorial soup was added later.
Sooty’s Space Rocket
Another fantastic ep, based on an old Harry Corbett film, (you can see the original here.) This one has some beautiful visuals in it. I particularly love the moment when the TARDIS-like space shuttle leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, and lands… well, that would be telling! Watch it and see!
The Fancy Dress Party
I’d been desperate to see Superdog return to the Sootyverse for a long time, and there were a couple of potential stories for Series One that never made it past the ideas stage. But, when myself, Richard and Wink Taylor gathered for our first Series Two writing conference, way back in October 2012, this was one of the first concepts thrown into the ring. And I love so much about this one, particularly because I have a penchant for over-the-top ‘pantomime’ villains, so to see Shaun Williamson laughing like a maniac as he performs his terrible Richard Cadell impression cracks me up every time! Working titles included Marvellous Clothes Assemble (seen only by my cat, thankfully), and Superdog Meets Spiderbear.
Finally, another one for you, Matthew Corbett fans! Did anyone see the original, starring Bernard Bresslaw as the eponymous genie? Well this is essentially a new version, inspired (only vaguely) by the episode from the 1980s, and this time we have the wonderful Dave Benson Phillips as the man of the lamp! “Shazam!” I think you’ll like it.
So, that’s it for October. But there’s another Sooty DVD coming up soon, (Panto Palaver in November), so hopefully I’ll be back with more anecdotes from the writers desk, if my psychiatrist will let me.
Until then – “bye bye everybody!”