Basil Brush is an anthropomorphic fox raconteur most well known for his British television work. Brush is primarily portrayed by a glove puppet (see picture) but has also been depicted in animated cartoon shorts. He has featured on children's (and later adult) television from the 1960s to the present day. He was originally voiced by Ivan Owen, who died in 2000. He is noted for his catch phrase, “Boom! Boom!”, and his 'posh' accent. His most prized possession is his tail, which he insists is called a “brush”.
Basil's persona (and gap-toothed look) was based on actor Terry-Thomas.
This character was created in 1963 by Peter Firmin for The Three Scampies children's show but his main popularity was achieved due to The Basil Brush Show, which premiered in 1968. The show was aired on the same day as Oliver!.
Basil Brush Show
Throughout the show's 12-year run Basil was always accompanied by a straight man, initially Rodney Bewes — aka Mr Rodney — better known as one half of The Likely Lads.
Bewes was replaced by Mr Derek — Derek Fowlds of Yes Minister fame and the TV show Heartbeat — who was the stooge for Basil's quips between 1969 and 1973. The subsequent presenters were Mr Roy (Roy North, 1973-1977), Mr Howard (Howard Williams), 1977-1979), and Mr Billy (Billy Boyle, 1979-1980).
Basil was in three more shows in the 1980s: the educational programme Let's Read… With Basil Brush (ITV, 1982-1983), Crackerjack (BBC), and Basil's Joke Machine (ITV, 1986).
Basil recorded two albums (both with the same title), Boom! Boom! It's Basil Brush in 1970 and 1977. His adventures also appeared on the pages of TV Comic during the peak of his popularity.
frame| Basil Brush as he appears currently
In 2002, Basil made a comeback in a new children's BBC sitcom, again named The Basil Brush Show, in which his new comic foil, Mr Stephen, was played by Christopher Pizzey. Georgina Leonidas and Michael Hayes also appear on the show. Basil Brush is now shown to have a family, which includes his destructive, hyperactive but cute nephew Bingo, and his rather nasty Cousin Mortimer. Other friends have been introduced as well, such as moneymaking business child Dave and sensible Molly. No-one is directly credited as being Basil's puppeteer on this show, although it is possibly Michael Winsor, who is credited as either Basil's “fitness instructor” or his “personal assistant.”
The current puppet is clearly different in a number of respects from the original 1960s vintage. Interspersed with the main programme, there are now various cartoon shorts in which Basil and/or another character is seen making jokes.
Basil appeared with Frank Skinner and David Baddiel for several episodes of the BBC TV series Fantasy Football League in 1994.
He also briefly appeared as a presenter for several Friday episodes of the popular British children's tv programme Blue Peter in 2003 in which he had his own joke segment.
Basil played Dobby the house-elf in the French & Saunders sketch “Harry Potter And The Secret Chamberpot Of Azerbaijan” for Comic Relief Red Nose Day 2003.
Basil appeared on French & Saunders in 2004.
On 10 December 2005, Basil appeared on The Weakest Link and won the show, receiving £10,900 for his chosen charity, the Blue Peter 2005 charity appeal, “Treasure Trail” (in aid of Childline). This makes him the first (and at the time of writing, only) puppet to win The Weakest link (Roland Rat had previously appeared as a puppet contestant, but did not win). Basil returned to Weakest Link as one of the contestants on the show's 1000th UK edition, recorded on 1 November 2006. It was shown on BBC Two on 18 December 2006. Although he made it to the final round, this time he failed to win. However, the winner still decided to share half of her winnings with Basil's chosen charity.
Basil Brush was mentioned briefly in the Black Books episode “Blood”, wherein Manny (Bill Bailey) purchases a “large-print biography of Basil Brush”, which he describes as “quite good.”
IMDB Page about the show
Basil Brush Oficial Site
BBC site about the show
Screen Online article
Ivan Owen's Obituary