Our antiques expert, Allan Blackburn, takes a look at a furry friend who used to pull in millions of viewers on TV...
So, we are nearing the end of the Easter holidays. My staff’s children go back on Monday (can I hear a sigh of relief?), and so this week’s collectables is written with children in mind. For people of a certain age, this wily fox surely screams of our childhood.
Some things are best left to fade as we leave childhood behind. But there’s something about the memory of sitting with your mum, watching your favourite TV programme. Conjuring up an image of safety, innocence and home, it may be why nostalgia for children’s television programmes has soared.
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Thousands of pounds are spent by 30- and 40-something ‘Kidults’ buying new merchandise to relive memories of hit shows such as Bagpuss, The Clangers and The Mr Men.
But what about the original toys that were sold when the shows first aired? This Basil Brush is a fantastic example of an original cuddly toy that has stood the test of time. Well cuddled he may be, but he is in fantastic condition for his age. He is 30 years old and is on sale at GB Antiques Centre for £36.
Basil Brush has been part of British television culture for over 50 years. Created by illustrator and animator Peter Firmin in 1963, he was operated and voiced by actor Ivan Owen until his death in 2000. Basil's foil was a series of five actor co-stars, known as his "Mr’s”. Each brought their own personality to the role, winning a new generation of fans. Who remembers “Mr Derek” or “Mr Howard”?
Basil’s fondness for jelly babies, his foxy tail, stories and one-liners were a huge success. By the end of the 1960s “The Basil Brush Show” topped the ratings with audiences of more than 13 million, and “Boom Boom!” had become a national catchphrase. Cannily, masses of associated Basil merchandise hit the High Street for kids young and old to snap up.
The original series ended 1980. A new version ran from 2000 until 2007, but that wasn’t the end. This crafty fox continues to be as successful with this generation as he was with ours.
He now has his own YouTube channel and continues to tour in incredibly popular live shows, even performing at Glastonbury in 2016 and 1017.
His voice is different and modern animatronics means he has more movement and expression, but he’s still the same old Basil. Boom Boom!