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Tuesday, 21 December, 1999, 14:34 GMT
Sooty prepares to sweep the world

sooty Sooty and Sweep are poised for worldwide fame

British children's TV favourite Sooty is poised for worldwide fame as he and sidekick Sweep go global.

Videos, books and toys based on the puppet pair are to be sold worldwide for the first time.

The company which owns Thomas the Tank Engine and Captain Pugwash has signed a 4.5m deal for the rights to distribute Sooty and Sweep merchandise.

The pair are hoping to crack the lucrative American market with TV and stage shows.

Life of Sooty
Sooty was first "discovered" in Blackpool by amateur magician Harry Corbett.
Mr Corbett bought the yellow glove puppet to amuse his children on holiday.
He incorporated the bear into his act and won a talent show.
The two went on to have their own BBC TV show.
Britt Allcroft, the media company famous for Thomas the Tank Engine, has agreed to set up a joint venture company with Sooty International Limited (SIL).

The company will be called Bridgefilms and will also control the distribution rights for Britt Allcroft's tiny elephant cartoon character Mumfie.

Mischievous teddy bear puppet Sooty and his impudent doggie pal Sweep were created nearly 50 years ago by Harry Corbett, whose son Matthew sold the rights in 1996.

'A great classic'

In a statement, Britt Allcroft said Sooty was a famous property with significant untapped potential, especially in merchandising.

Britt Allcroft managing director William Harris said he hoped to introduce Sooty to children in the US and Europe in new TV and stage shows.

sooty Sooty is famous for his mischievous antics
"Sooty is truly a great classic property and we are delighted to have him on board," Mr Harris said.

"I think he has some great stories and he's also a bit naughty and kids everywhere can associate with that."

Mr Harris said he also hoped to boost Mumfie's popularity in the UK, building on the character's following in the US.

Sooty - a yellow bear with black ears - has starred in his own popular TV shows screened in the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand since 1952.

He has been starring recently in the autumn series of Sooty Heights on Children's ITV in the UK.

He has also been touring regional theatres across the UK in his latest show, Sooty's Treasure Hunt.

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20 Jul 98 |  Entertainment
Izzy Wizzy Sooty's 50

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