Sooty puppeteer Richard Cadell found it ‘daunting’ to replace former host Matthew Corbett

Childhood favourite Sooty plays with an auctioneer's gavel

Puppeteer Richard Cadell, 51, has admitted he feels he has only just been accepted by The Sooty Show fans after replacing the programme’s former host Matthew Corbett, 72, 20 years ago. The British illusionist and screenwriter took over from Matthew, who is the son of Sooty’s creator, Harry Corbett, when he retired in 1998.

Speaking about his nerve-racking career move, Richard divulged in an exclusive interview with “It was daunting.

“I’ve done it for 20 something years and it’s only just now that people kind of accepted me as the face of it. 

“It took 20 years to shake the Matthew Corbett tie and Matthew is still a good friend of mine, and he told me it took him 20 years to shake his father’s heritage.”

The puppeteer went on to reveal he felt like “a rabbit in the headlights” when he took on the role, as Matthew had “grown up” with the iconic television characters and, as a result, knew the show inside out.

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He continued: “I can’t describe how nerve-racking it was because Matthew Corbett had grown up with Sooty. 

“He was one when his father was performing with Sooty over his cot, so he had 20 years of pedigree working constantly with this character and here I come like a rabbit in the headlights.

“I was 30, and suddenly doing Sooty and I didn’t have that experience. You can’t buy experience you’ve got to just do it.

“So it was very daunting, but at the same time a dream job.”


Richard recalled: “I was a fan of The Sooty Show and when I got the job, I spent a week crying, I couldn’t believe that I’d got it, it was one of those dream jobs that didn’t belong to anyone else but Matthew Corbett, even now it still gets me sometimes. 

“The one thing with this character that I’ve learnt is that everybody grew up watching it so for me it was a massive part of my childhood and I get to do it and I’ve never ever tired of it ever, every time it’s a privilege. 

“When you see the reaction that parents and kids have to it and the love they have for it, it’s like a drug for me, I get more fun out of it than the audience do. 

“I tell people I’ve never done a day’s work in the last 20 years!”

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Richard went on to reveal that although he feels accepted by the fans now, he has encountered some backlash for deciding not to focus on certain characters as much as Matthew used to.

The television personality admitted some fans “got a bit upset” with him because he doesn’t feature Sooty’s cousin Scampi in many storylines.

Addressing the fan favourite character, Richard said: “Some of the fans got a bit upset with me because I don’t use Scampi as much.

“Scampi was a Matthew Corbett-era character. But I don’t use Scampi as much. 

“I bring him in every now and again as a visitor, and it kind of works like that. 

“When I was a kid, it was just Sooty, Sweep and Soo and sometimes it’s quite tricky when you’ve got four to write for, so it’s actually easier to write the show for three.”

Explaining his writing process for the show, Matthew added: “I find it easier to write for Sooty and Sweep as a double act.

“And then Soo is like the voice of reason who comes in and tries to put the situations right before I find out about them.”

The Sooty Show is available every morning at 10:25am on ITVBe.

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