Yes, if you fancy a Yuletide treat for the little ‘uns starring a well-known TV puppet, then you will find it in the unexpected environs of a tent slap bang in the middle of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. Richard Cadell and his furry friends can be found in the Circus Big Top for the next few weeks, giving hearty cheer to children and parents with their one-hour show.
Sooty, who made a return to ITV in 2008 under the guise of likable new human sidekick Richard Cadell, is of course a naughty little fellow and fans wanting to see him spray his water pistol at the audience will not be disappointed. Even better, Richard trumps him with a much larger weapon.
It’s a light and jolly confection of a show with lots of audience participation, carol singers and a Christmas cake. Is Sooty a candidate for Bake Off? Suffice to say that the lovable little fella makes sure that Richard ends up with flour on his face.
The show has a few jokes aimed at grownups and kids alike that generally hit the mark. My favourite was probably “Is that your Daddy? He looks like a movie star? Shrek.” But it’s more about imparting a warm, festive feeling than gags, and concludes with some jolly singing of Christmas carols.
Sooty’s big top really is very big and the puppets and the show are quite small in scale; a projected screen showing what is going on wouldn’t have gone amiss in my view, allowing children to really see their favourite TV bear better.
Also, when I caught it on the first night, there were a couple of technical snags that will no doubt have been ironed out by Cadell, a born entertainer who clearly loves his work. These are minor gripes. Sooty is great at all times of the year, especially Christmas.
It’s an amiable diversion from the louder, more high-octane fun to be had in Winter Wonderland – the rollercoasters, sweet stalls and bright lights of the massive fairground that takes up a good chunk of Hyde Park in the run up to Christmas and beyond.
Winter Wonderland has an array of excellent rides, some of which are probably a bit too scary for the average Sooty fan (although the “Wilde Maus XXL” rollercoaster might just be ok for the brave child aged 8 and above).
Most dazzling of all is the Magical Ice Kingdom, a tented area housing huge sculptures of massive polar bears, a stranded ship and wolves all chiselled out of ice. It’s enough to take your breath away. But wrap up warm. It’s darn cold in there….
The Sooty Christmas Show is at Winter Wonderland between November 18 and January 17. Ticket prices: Adult £8.50, child £5, family (2 adults/2 children or 1 adult/3 children) £20, concession £7.50. Tickets can be booked at hydeparkwinterwonderland.com