Home Shows A to Z

Diary 1950s to 1990s Articles Credits & Links

TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Basil Brush, the wise-cracking alter-ego of puppeteer Ivan Owen made his debut on ITV in the early sixties as a part of puppet series The Three Scampis. He then progressed to playing sidekick to magician David Nixon on a couple of BBC1 shows, proving so popular that it would lead to his own tea-time series on BBC1 in 1968.

Designed and made by Peter Firmin Basil was a Tweed wearing aristocrat with a voiced modelled on Terry-Thomas. The programme had pretty much the same format throughout its life, opening gags, a musical act, sketches, a story in which Basil was always the hero (Basil The Buccaneer, Bulldog Basil, Blast Off Basil etc) and then the closing song. Basil would be accompanied by a succession of sidekicks, sent to keep him entertained, no matter what the consequences were. The first was was Mister Rodney (Bewes), followed by Mister Derek (Fowlds), Mister Roy (North), Mister Howard (Williams) and ending with Mister Billy (Boyle), who according to The Stage was "hot from some very adult shows in the West End."

Each week Basil would also play host to a pop act, but it's the scope of acts that surprises nowadays. Not content with the likes of Dave Dee or The Tremeloes the show would present like likes of The Kinks and Traffic to a tea-time audience in 1968.

Basil was so popular that he had inevitably become a target of ITV. In November 1978 Ivor Owen rejected an offer to take Basil to ITV. However, by Christmas 1980 it was over and in 1982 Basil returned to ITV with Let's Read With Basil Brush, and after he slowly faded into retirement with only a bizarre, but hilarious appearance on Fantasy Football League in the mid-nineties to remind us of his what we were missing.

After Ivan Owen's death the rights were sold and a new Basil, re-designed and with a younger voice gained a new audience on CBBC in the 2000's.

Boom and indeed Boom!



14th June 1968 - 27th December 1980