THE children’s puppet Sooty was at the centre of a TV sex row in the 1960s, it has emerged on the eve of the premiere of a documentary about the much-loved Yorkshire character.
Plans to introduce a female puppet to Sooty’s BBC series were so controversial that the corporation’s director-general had to announce a “no touch” rule, it has emerged.
Sooty creator Harry Corbett wanted to launch a female puppet called Soo on the show in the mid-1960s.
But the new documentary reveals that the show’s producer and a BBC governor were against Sooty having a girlfriend.
Producer Trevor Hill dismissed the idea, which also caused controversy in the press, on the grounds that “sex would be creeping into the programme”.
BBC director-general Hugh Carleton Greene intervened to allow it and the panda Soo was introduced in 1965.
Matthew Corbett, the son of the Sooty creator who took over from his father as Sooty, Soo and Sweep’s handler in 1976, told the documentary: “My father was called into the head office and the director-general of the BBC said he had made a decision.”
He said Greene had ruled that Sooty having a female friend “was to be allowed - but they must never touch”.
The documentary, Sooty Ungloved, will have its premiere in Corbett’s home town of Guiseley, tomorrow, with profits from the screening going towards providing a defibrillator for the area, where Corbett and his family lived for 35 years.
The Sooty Show was cancelled by the BBC in 1967 and was later broadcast by ITV.