73rd British Ring IBM Convention
23rd - 27th September 2009, Southport
Update 7, June 2009
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO
What an impact Richard Cadell made on the audience when he closed the Gala show at the 1992 Eastbourne Convention. Previously he had generally been known as the youngest of The Magic Circle’s ‘Young Magician of the Year’ at the age of only 15. He just stunned the audience with his illusions especially his presentation of the ‘Dizzy Limit’ when he and his motor bike vanished in mid-air only to appear seconds later at the back of the theatre on his motor bike and riding down an aisle to the front of the stage. It is no wonder that for the next eight years as one of Britain’s top illusionists he appeared on stage and television all over the world and we were indeed fortunate that he was able to return to our Convention stage for our Diamond Jubilee celebrations of 1996 with another brilliant performance.
Richard will be with us again this year at Southport but not as an illusionist but as the hand of that beloved TV puppet Sooty. How did the transformation of presenting large illusions to becoming a puppeteer come about? It happened in 2000 when Matthew Corbett, son of the revered Harry Corbett decided to retire from actually performing. Matthew had taken over being the right hand of Sooty in 1976 both on TV and in theatres across the country after Harry stopped touring and had retired to Weymouth. Sooty had been discovered in Blackpool 28 years earlier by Harry while on holiday with his family when he spotted a teddy bear puppet in a craft shop and decided to purchase it for the princely sum of 7/6d. Harry immediately introduced his new partner into his amateur magic act, the silent little bear being simply named ‘Teddy’ and assisting with the tricks and immortalising the spell “Izzy Wizzy let’s get busy!”
In 1952 they were spotted by a Television Producer and were invited to appear on BBC’s ‘Talent Night’. But Teddy’s appearance would not stand out on black and white television so a black felt nose and mouth were hastily sewn on and his ears blackened with soot……and it was at this moment that he was renamed …. Sooty.
After being regulars on ‘Saturday Special’ the nation became captivated by Sooty’s naughty antics, the BBC in 1955 decided to make Sooty the star of his own weekly TV programme. Two years later Harry introduced a best friend for Sooty, a little grey dog with long floppy ears. His name was Sweep and ever since they have been in separable. It was not until 1964 that the little Panda Soo was to become the next full time family member. However the BBC frowned upon Sooty having a girl friend so the gang moved to a new home at Thames Television with Sooty remaining with ITV ever since. But Sooty’s popularity kept on growing with millions of children watching The Sooty Show both on TV and in theatres throughout the country whether presented by Harry or Matthew.
With Matthew retiring a hunt was on to find a new partner for Sooty. Matthew recalled that in 1985 a young magician Richard Cadell had been a guest on a Christmas Special TV show. As it was discovered that Richard had also worked as a radio DJ and a TV children’s presenter on Sky TV this combination of skills gave him the perfect qualifications to take on Sooty and the gang. For the past 8 years Richard has been Sooty’s presenter. A new look TV show for a new younger generation saw Sooty and the gang running the “Sooty Heights” hotel.
The performing rights for the Sooty Empire were put up for sale in 2008 and were acquired by Richard’s new company Cadell’s Ltd with his brother David as a silent partner in the business. Richard acknowledges that watching Sooty as a child was the first time he had seen a magic wand or tricks being performed and it was Sooty who had inspired him to do magic himself. Richard is determined to make Sooty soar again and has some big plans in store for him. A brand new TV series is now in development where the emphasis is to go back to the early inspirations of Harry and Matthew. The yellow bear with of course Sweep and Soo are currently touring the country with ‘Sooty in Space’, a show full of traditional values. The show has been written by Matthew Corbett who remains in close contact with Richard.
Since becoming the presenter of Sooty has Richard noticed any difference in his life style? There is one most definitely, one which he gives with a broad mischievous grin on his still boyish face. With illusions at the end of a show it took hours to dismantle and pack. With Sooty and Co. it’s done in minutes and that’s quite a difference.
At Southport Richard is one of the acts in Children’s Showtime. For his spot he is planning to use as a background Harry Corbett’s original TV set of houses which will be so well remembered by a large number of our senior members from the early Sooty shows.
Further news of this year’s Children’s Showtime will be released shortly. At this Convention it will be staged in the Southport Theatre at 10.30am on Saturday 26th September.
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO, June 2009. www.britishring.org.uk