Sunday 21 January 2018

SuperTed to return to the BBC after more than 30 years

SuperTed is to return to the BBC after more than 30 years
SuperTed is to return to the BBC after more than 30 years

Ian Burrell

A show featuring a talking skeleton with an effeminate voice, an overweight character called “Bulk” and a girl called “Blotch” with less than perfect skin is being revived by the BBC children’s department for a 26 episode remake.

Welcome back SuperTed, the less than politically correct story of a Welsh teddy bear with cosmic powers. Known to children of the '80s as an improbable superhero, the animated and anthropomorphic toy is expected to return to the small screen in 2016 after an absence of 30 years.

It is the latest in a series of popular children’s shows from a bygone era being revived for a new generation. Thunderbirds, The Wombles, The Clangers, Dangermouse, Bob the Builder and Teletubbies are also undergoing revivals.

The remake of SuperTed has been revealed to Radio Times by its creator Mike Young, who said he hoped actors Melvyn Hayes and Derek Griffiths, who were the familiar voices in the original series, will be available for the new run.

“We’ll definitely be talking to Melvyn and Derek,” he said.

Griffiths, 67, the former presenter of BBC children’s show Play School, was the voice of SuperTed himself, a bear that was discarded in the toy factory but is transformed into a superhero by “cosmic dust” bestowed on him by “Mother Nature”.

Hayes, 79, best-known for playing Bombardier “Gloria” Beaumont in the BBC sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum but seen more recently in the ITV comedy Benidorm, is expected to return as the voice of Skeleton, a camp and cowardly enemy of SuperTed. Roy Kinnear, who voiced another SuperTed villain, the stupid and obese Bulk, died in 1988.

It is unlikely the modern SuperTed will be as politically incorrect as his '80s incarnation. “In SuperTed, we had a gun-slinging cowboy, a flamboyantly gay skeleton and a fat guy who had jokes made about his weight and all these things you just wouldn’t do today,” Young told Radio Times from Los Angeles, where he has lived for the past 25 years. “But you can still write the show in a funny, entertaining way.”

He noted that the American cartoon Popeye “used to smash people in the face” and was very funny. “But of course there is no television network anywhere in the world that would let you do that now.”

Joe Godwin, the executive in overall charge of BBC children’s programmes, denied that the plethora of remakes was an indication of a lack of new ideas. He told Radio Times that the reworked Teletubbies, Dangermouse and The Clangers amounted to only “a tiny fraction of the content” produced across CBBC and CBeebies.

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