TV Pop Diaries

Popular Music on British Television

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14th June 1968 - 27th December 1980

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, and the shows' format, opening gags, a musical act, sketches, the story in which Basil was always the hero (Basil The Buccaneer, Bulldog Basil, Blast Off Basil etc) and the closing song would remain popular for years. Basil would be accompanied by a succession of sidekicks, seemingly a hired hand, sent to keep him entertained, no matter what the consequences were for them.

Each week Basil would play guest 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 The Kinks, and Traffic to a tea-time audience in 1968.

The show continued until Christmas 1980, with only his accomplice changing every now and again.

He was so popular that he had become a target of ITV, but in November 1978 Ivor Owen had rejected an offer to take Basil to ITV.

In 1982 he returned to ITV with Let's Read With Basil Brush, but 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 new voice appeared on CBBC for five years.

Boom and indeed Boom!