Britain's favourite yellow glove puppet bear Sooty is bracing himself for his big screen debut, RadioTimes.com can reveal.
The character, who returned to our TV screens last September after an eight-year hiatus, is in the frame for a movie being organised by his new puppeteer – and rights-owner – Richard Cadell.
Cadell is working on a big screen adventure for the lovable bear and his canine friend Sweep in which they seek to rescue their panda friend Soo.
“She has been kidnapped by an evil showbiz impresario who will pull every trick in the book to turn her into a global superstar and Sooty and Sweep need her back,” explains Cadell, who was handed control of the puppet in 1998 from Matthew Corbett, the son of Sooty's creator, Harry Corbett.
“The film will be peppered with spectacular locations, countless celebrity cameos and buckets of slapstick – without detracting from the charm of the nation’s favourite teddy bear, Sooty and his dim-witted best friend Sweep.”
A spokeswoman for the production said that it was still in the early days and could not reveal further details.
Sooty has already returned to Children’s ITV, with two series of The Sooty Show starring Cadell scheduled to be screened continuously over the next five years. A third series is in development, producers have confirmed.
The new series has seen crucial modern touches incorporated. Soo, the traditionally normally shy and retiring panda in the original series, is no longer depicted with a pinny and a duster and does not attend to the housework needs of her two "male" friends.
Sooty's essentially naughty but sweet character has remained and he continues to be mute to the audience, communicating only by whispering into the ear of his human companion. He has also kept his xylophone, water pistol, wand and the catchphrase "Izzy wizzy, let's get busy".
Cadell won the blessing of Matthew Corbett, whose father, Harry, bought the puppet for his son from a stall on a holiday in Blackpool in 1948.
The original bear was given soot marks on his face to make him show up better on black and white televisions when he made his small-screen debut in 1952 on the BBC's Talent Night.
After that, Sooty and Sweep became regulars on children's show Saturday Special from 1952 to 1955, and were later revived by ITV.
After ITV decommissioned Sooty and Sweep in 2005, Cadell bought the rights from licensees HiT for a sum reputed to be in the region of £1m and finally won a commission for new episodes which aired last year.
The movie idea follows the current vogue for bringing back nostalgic children’s favourites with revivals of The Wombles, Teletubbies, Thunderbirds and Danger Mouse all on the way.
Turner is also planning a reboot of The Powerpuff Girls and a big screen version of Paddington Bear’s adventures will be released in November.