SuperTed was one of those cartoons that straddled the strange grey area between cartoons for little kids and cartoons for teenagers. Primary school children would definitely have enjoyed SuperTed’s adventures, but given that the hero of the show was basically a teddy bear by the time you reached around 10 years of age you would probably consider it a bit childish, but would probably watch it anyway if there was nothing better on.
The cartoon was first broadcast in 1982 on Welsh TV channel S4C, and was indeed a Welsh speaking show. It was soon dubbed into English to be shown in the rest of the UK where it initially aired as part of BBC1’s afternoon childrens line up. Derek Griffiths, a favourite from Play School provided the voice of SuperTed, whilst the great Jon Pertwee of Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge fame was the voice of Spottyman, SuperTed’s alien friend.
SuperTed himself was originally a normal teddy bear, who was rejected from the manufacturing line for some reason and tossed into the factory basement. By lucky coincidence Spottyman, a yellow humanoid with green spots, came across the bear and sprinkled some magic cosmic dust on it, bringing the bear to life. Spottyman took the bear to visit Mother Nature, who gave the bear secret powers, making him into SuperTed. Quite a convoluted set up it has to be said!
The average episode started with SuperTed in his civilian clothes (i.e. the plain fur of a teddy bear), but when super powers were called for he could say his secret magic word (we never found out what it was) and unzip his regular bear fur to reveal his red superhero costume and cape. SuperTed’s powers included super strength and the ability to fly, thanks to little rocket boosters in his feet. Spottyman would normally also accompany SuperTed on his missions, although he could be frightened easily at times.
SuperTed’s arch-enemy was Texas Pete, a cowboy out to get rich and take over the world by fair means or foul. Well, being a villain there wasn’t usually much about his schemes that could be construed as being fair. Texas Pete was aided, if that’s the right word, by his henchmen Bulk, a fat, dimwitted oaf, and Skeleton, who was strangely enough a skeleton who wore carpet slippers. Neither Bulk nor Skeleton were particularly nasty characters, but they did what they were told for fear of suffering Texas Pete’s wrath.
Ten years after it first arrived, in 1992, a new cartoon featuring SuperTed was created by Hanna Barbera, called The Further Adventures of SuperTed. This tried to tell longer stories by splitting stories into episodes, and also introduced new villains beside Texas Pete, but ultimately it failed to capture kids animation and was soon brought to an end. In recent years the original creator of the series, Mike Young, who now owns a successful production company in the US, has talked about bringing SuperTed back as a computer generated cartoon, but this too now seems unlikely to happen.