A mum discovered her vintage Sooty puppet had star quality she should never take for granted thanks to owner of The Sooty Show Richard Cadell.
In April (2019) Tina Stewart took her six-year-old son, Kyle Stewart, to see The Sooty Show at The Albert Halls in Stirling, Scotland – and Richard spotted the family’s well-worn glove puppet was extra special.
Mrs Stewart, a veterinary receptionist from Dunblane, Scotland, said: “We took Sooty along with us and after the show met Richard Cardell - who immediately new our puppet was an original.
“He pointed out his distinctive features - a longer body, leather pads and sawdust in his head. He mentioned that he might be worth a lot of money and told us to look after him.”
Richard’s Sooty knowledge proved spot on as Mrs Stewart’s father, Paul Mouncey, a retired biology teacher from Comrie, Perthshire, used to know Harry Corbett, the original inventor of Sooty. The puppet celebrated his 70th birthday in 2018 after the Corbett creation took children’s TV by storm following his invention in Blackpool in 1948.
Mrs Stewart said: “When I was small, we used to live in the same village as Harry Corbett and his family - Child Okeford in Dorset.
“Dad remembers taking me to see Harry and going into his workshop where he used to make the props and backdrops for the shows. He used a trailer to transport his props and my father ended up buying it from him.
“On one occasion when we visited him, dad mentioned that Harry took a liking to me and that’s when he gave me the original Sooty from the show. I was three so it would have been in 1978. Because I was so young, I can’t remember much about it but I met Harry.
“We always knew our Sooty puppet was extra special. My parents said I had to be extra careful with him if I played with him. Harry told us he’d been on the Sooty TV shows.
“It was after I’d spoken to Richard Cadell that I decided I should part with him. If my Sooty was so special, it was a shame he’d just been sitting in a box for 40 years. It’s time for someone else to enjoy him. Perhaps he should be in a toy museum.”
The Sooty puppet will go into Hansons’ September 19 sale at their Etwall headquarters with an estimate of £800-£1,200.
'This is without question an original Sooty' - Richard Cadell
Richard Cadell said: “I couldn’t believe it when Kyle brought this along to my show. His family simply didn’t have any idea as to its significance. This is without question an original television Sooty that would have been used some point on television in the mid-1970s by Sooty’s creator Harry Corbett. I would estimate he is around 45 to 50 years old.
“The background story certainly rings true. Harry retired to Dorset in the mid-1970s and on occasion did part with his original Sooty puppets if he felt good reason. He was a generous and kind man and this would have been given with his love and affection. It’s wonderful that this Sooty has been discovered after all these years.”
Charles Hanson's Sooty auction sensations
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “Sooty and I have become pretty good friends over the years. We’ve sold two original Harry Corbett puppets before with great success – we like to put on a good Sooty show.”
In 2018, an original Harry Corbett Sooty puppet used on TV in the children’s show in the 1950s sold for a world-record price at Hansons - £14,500, with buyer fees and VAT, from an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000. Plus, in 2008, Richard Cadell, who bought the licensing rights to the Sooty brand that year, paid £3,100 for an original Sooty puppet at Hansons.
“Sooty may have been invented on Blackpool pier but Derbyshire does seem to be one of his favourite holiday destinations,” said Mr Hanson. “We hope we can find him a new Sooty fan to take good care of him – or perhaps it’s time for him to go home to Blackpool.”
The Sooty Puppet will be sold at Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, DE65 6LS, on September 19. Bid live online by registering with www.hansonslive.co.uk. To find out more, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.