FOR more than 70 years, Sooty has brought laughter to millions of youngsters through his magic and mischief.

While many children’s TV shows have been forgotten or gone out of fashion over the decades, the little magic yellow bear has endured on the stage and screen and has been adored by generation after generation.

But despite that weight of expectation, Richard Cadell, the presenter for 20 years, does not feel under pressure competing with people’s memories and sense of nostalgia when they bring their kids to the show.

He said: “It was nerve-wracking to start with as I wanted to get it right.

“Now it’s an absolute pleasure because every time when I walk out onto the stage and they see Sooty, Sweep and Soo, the audience instantly show their love and affection for those characters.”

Magician and puppeteer Harry Corbett created Sooty in 1948 and his son Peter – whose stage name was Matthew Corbett – took over in 1976. Then when Lymm resident Matthew retired in 1998 he chose Richard to replace him.

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Revamping the show was never even given a thought.

Richard added: “I keep it all the same. I stick exactly to the original format that Harry and Matthew kept to. That’s why it works – so all I’ve got to do is just join the dots up and deliver those characters in the way everyone loves them

“The reason it has seamlessly carried on is because Sooty doesn’t talk and Sweep squeaks.

“So there’s never a case where you’ve suddenly got another actor in who plays it differently or sounds different. The presenter might have changed but otherwise it has been the same. The voice of Soo was originally Marjorie Corbett, Harry’s wife and Matthew’s mother.

“But for the past 40 years it has been Brenda Longman and she’s still doing the voice of Soo for me.

“So, again, it’s the same. There’s no other show like it that has that nostalgic tick and yet it’s modern enough to work for today’s kids.

“I think that’s why parents like their kids to watch it. They feel safe with it and it is kind of a reminder of a time when things weren’t so fast.

“People do like to be reminded of their childhood and what they perceive to be the good old days and Sooty is part of that.”

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Richard has actually been part of the Sooty family since 1985.

The 50-year-old added: “That was when I first met Matthew. I was the Young Magician of the Year at 15.

“Part of the prize was to go on the television and present a little trick for Sooty.

“I was a big fan of Sooty so I overstayed my welcome at the studio and made friends with everybody.

“I kept in touch but I never thought in a million years the job of presenter would come up.

“There was no motive. I was just fascinated by the show. I was a fan and then, when Matthew was going to retire in 1998, ITV didn’t want to axe the show as it got four million viewers a week.

“That’s when he suggested me. He said: ‘My dad was a magician – you might need a magician – try Richard Cadell’, so they phoned me up out of the blue.

“I did the camera tests and when I got the job I cried my eyes out. I could not believe it.”

Two decades have gone by fast because Richard is still considered ‘the new boy’ when it comes to being Sooty’s right hand man.

At the time Matthew, who lives alongside the Bridgewater Canal, said: “I am delighted that Sooty is in, or should I say on, the right hands. Richard Cadell is as close to a Corbett as you can get.”

Richard added: “It has been an amazing journey. I’ve done it for 20 years now but people still think of me as the new boy because most of them grew up watching Matthew Corbett. He’s been a great support but it was a very difficult job to take on after him.

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“He had the advantage over everybody because unlike Harry Corbett, who created it, his earliest childhood memory was Harry sticking Sooty over his cot.

“He lived and breathed it all his life so nobody knew the subject better than him and he was a great comedic performer as well so he was an incredibly tough act to follow. I’m still in awe of Matthew because I grew up watching him. He did a great job with Sooty, he made a lot of kids laugh and now enjoys his retirement in Lymm. He got it right so I admire that.

“He’s a terrible prankster though. He’s always playing tricks. He’s got this thing where if you’re ever doing a live interview on TV he’ll always try and call you to try and catch you with your phone on.”

Despite being unashamedly old fashioned, Sooty has made one concession to the modern age – the internet.

Richard, who used to have his own Sooty puppet booth when he was four, said: “Since we launched the YouTube channel 18.5 million people have watched a Sooty episode and a third of them are in America? Because of the internet there’s a whole new audience who are watching Sooty.

I think the reason it’s popular is because a lot of the kids’ shows are CGI so they can be dubbed into multiple languages and we are one of the few live action shows left.

“Also it’s because of the slapstick comedy. The Sooty Show is now going to be big in China. They’re dubbing it because the Chinese love all that visual humour so it’s crazy this worldwide appeal it’s having.”