Tuesday, 9 December 2014
31 The Basil Brush Show
First watched : Uncertain
We move on to another seemingly indestructible puppet. The Basil Brush Show returned for its latest series on Thursday 19th February 1970.
Basil was originally created by Oliver Postgate's puppeteer partner Peter Firmin for a programme called The Three Scampies in 1962. He was operated and voiced by a man called Ivor Owen who never came out from under the table. He was subsequently engaged as a support act for magician David Nixon's show where he made enough impression to get his own show in 1968.
With Owen staying out of sight the wisecracking fox needed a human straight man as a foil. The first occupant of this rather thankless role was Rodney Bewes , followed after a year by Derek Fowlds whose once promising film career was petering out. Fowlds stayed until 1976.
I was never greatly keen on Basil. Foxes are beautiful creatures but they're not exactly endearing and Basil's posh smart alec persona based on Terry Thomas just wound me up. I don't remember finding any of the jokes very funny either.
Notwithstanding the above Basil's fame has been enduring. The show originally ended in 1980 when Owen fell out with the BBC over the timeslot. After a brief spell on an ITV schools programme in 1982, he ( and Owen ) returned to the BBC as co-host of Crackerjack in 1983-4. After that Basil was offscreen until after Owen's death in 2000 . He reappeared, after apparent cosmetic surgery, in 2002 in a series which retained the original title but had more of a sitcom format. It ran for five years but passed me by entirely. Since then he has been restricted to guest appearances on things like Comic Relief but you can't rule out another comeback one day.