Basil Brush, the fox puppet with the incredibly bushy tail, rather posh sounding accent and Boom Boom! catchphrase, has been on our screens since the early 1960’s. Originally created by Peter Firmin, who was also half of the brains behind such classic shows as Bagpuss and The Clangers, Basil first appeared on a children’s show called The Three Scampies, but found popularity when he appeared on magician David Nixon’s show.
This led to Basil getting his own show in 1968, unsurprisingly titled The Basil Brush Show, which ran for 12 years until 1980. This show saw Basil joined by a number of different actors who played the straight role, and who Basil always referred to by putting Mister before their first name. The first of these was Mr. Rodney, who was Rodney Bewes, one of the Likely Lads from the BBC sitcom. He was followed by Derek Fowlds (more recently to be seen in Heartbeat) then Roy North, Howard Williams and finally Billy Boyle.
Personally I only have vague memories of the Basil Brush show now, though I definitely remember watching it and trying to impersonate his incredibly long laughs, which usually followed Basil saying something derogatory to his human stooge.
The first part of the Eighties saw Basil Brush become teacher, when he appeared on the ITV schools programme Let’s Read with Basil Brush. If I was ever off ill from school I would tend to lie on the sofa watching these programmes, and used to particularly enjoy watching Basil, even though I had already got passed the reading level that the programme was aimed at.
Basil also spent some of the Eighties appearing on Crackerjack as a special guest. For a while it seemed Crackerjack’s special guest simply alternated between Basil and The Krankies. He also had a mid-Eighties show called Basil’s Joke Machine, but I can’t say I remember this one very well, and with it Basil Brush disappeared from our screens.
The Nineties was pretty much a Basil-free decade, but in 2002 The Basil Brush Show made a return to our screens. The new show had more of a sitcom type feel to it, and the Basil puppet received a bit of a make over too. Luckily nothing too drastic was done, and the new puppet was still easily identified as Basil. His voice, originally provided by Ivan Owen, who had died in 2000, was also fairly similar sounding despite being provided by a different voice actor.
This new show lasted for six series, and came to an end in 2007, but during this time Basil also made a few other appearances on other TV shows, most notably perhaps being his winning an episode of The Weakest Link.
Basil is not currently on our screens, but here’s hoping it’s only a matter of time before he’s Boom Booming again once more.