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Bosco is iconic ... the children still love him as much as ever

HELLO boys and girls! It is the iconic catchphrase of a red-haired puppet who lived in a box and influenced an entire generation of 80s children.

And puppeteer Paula Lambert says the character is just as loved by children in 2013. Just as Bosco has never grown beyond his five years, Paula has also remained young at heart - and she continues to perform with Bosco to this day.

The RTE programme remains one of the stand out childhood memories for many people.

The hugely popular programme - which featured presenters Marian Richardson and Frank Twomey - is based on the central character Bosco, a five-year-old boy with bright red cheeks and a squeaky voice.

Bosco lived in a brightly painted wooden box, only ever wandering it to places like Dublin Zoo through the 'Magic Door'.

And it appears that Bosco never grew out of his look.

"Apart from one or two small adjustments over the years, he is largely the same," Paula explained.

Paula is credited with bringing one of Ireland's most loved children's characters to life. And 17 years later, the puppeteer says the influence and legacy of the much loved puppet will always stay with her.

She first began working with Bosco in 1981 and continued for more than 350 episodes with the character before it came to an end in 1987.

The show was continually repeated into the 1990s through RTE's daily children's show The Den - as it continued to reach out to further generations of Irish people.

 

MEMORIES

"He is so iconic that a lot of people still associate me with him and of course, I have very fond memories of doing the show," Paula told the Herald.

The Lambert Puppet Theatre opened its doors to the public in 1972 at an opening ceremony hosted by ex Late Late show host Gay Byrne.

The talent for puppet acting runs in the family. From its earliest beginning the Lambert family had been involved with RTE, working on the hugely popular series Wanderly Wagon, which featured Paula's father, the late Eugene Lambert. Paula has now gone out on her own with her on-the-road performance company.

While most of us will always remember the colourful puppet, Paula says her shows have changed considerably over the years.

"Bosco just has his little puppet show now and he introduces the other elements of the show, which are my bread and butter," she explained.

"I bring him out for about 20 minutes to warm up the children, who love him as much as ever and then I bring on my other characters for the rest of the act."

Now living in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin, the performer still gets as much enjoyment from her act as ever before. The enjoyment works both ways as Paula played to 130,000 people while on a three-month tour with her act in Cork over the summer.

For many years she has travelled the country with her puppet act to the delight of young children who love seeing her perform her own take on fairy tale classics such as Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast.

And Paula says she is still in touch with her youth.

"I don't know how young I am anymore, but I still love it," she said, laughing.

"I'm out on the road at the moment and I was down in Fota Island all summer.

It's very much a participation kind of show so the kids get really involved in it.

"People are amazed by it, but it is just something that is really fun for kids," she added.

And Bosco is not just popular among the country's children.

"The mammies and daddies enjoy it as well because they remember Bosco from the show," she said.

The mum-of-three has plenty of company on the road as she is joined by her son Johnny Lambert (25).

While she spends most of her time travelling, Paula will return to Dublin for a gig in the Pavilion before Christmas.

Paula admits that she would like to be busier at times, but wouldn't change what she is doing for anything.

Paula now has a dedicated fan base who book her regularly.

"I love working so I would work every day if I could, but I'm busy enough. I am lucky, I have to say," she said.

"It's a job that you couldn't do unless you love it."

Paula's brother Liam Lambert still runs the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Monkstown and Paula pops in when she can.

"I am on the road most of the time, but I go and see shows," Paula told the Herald.

The hard-working puppeteer hasn't been approached about TV work since Bosco but said she is happy to keep it as a live production for now.

As for the future? Knock knock, open-wide, see what's on the other side...

hnews@herald.ie


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