Series / The Basil Brush Show

"Boom boom!"

The Basil Brush Show is a CBBC series involving a fox puppet and its human companions. Originally running from 1968 to 1980 on BBC1, either during Children's Hour or the Saturday early evening slot, it has a tendency toward Breaking the Fourth Wall and using Double Entendre to appeal to adult (presumably parental) viewers as well as children. The BBC cancelled the show before picking it up again in 2002, complete with a Spin-Off, Basil's Swap Shop.

Basil Brush was designed by Bagpuss co-creator Peter Firmin and voiced by puppeteer Ivan Owen (who studiously avoided seeking any publicity for the role, feeling it made Basil more believable if no-one knew the identity of his "controller") until his death in 2000. In the 1968-80 series, Basil had a series of human co-stars/comedy stooges, always addressed by Basil as "Mr. [actor's first name]"; in order, they included former Likely Lad Rodney Bewes, a pre-Yes, Minister Derek Fowlds, actor/singer Roy North, Howard Williams, and Billy Boyle.

The episodes opened with a joke-filled introduction by Basil and his co-star, followed by a comedy sketch (which often included topical jokes), a musical number (often performed by a guest star, sometimes as a straight performance and sometimes as a comic duet with Basil), and finally a serial story about a famous relative of Basil's (such as spacefarer Blast-Off Basil or Robin Hood parody Basil the Farmer, Knight in Shining Armour) which would be frequently interrupted by jokes and asides from the fox himself. At the height of the series' popularity in the 1970s, actors and singers were queueing up for the chance to be the butt of Basil's humour for an episode.

Although Basil continued to appear on television sporadically across the 1980s and 1990s, it was not until 2002 that The Basil Brush Show was revived, with Christopher Pizzey as Basil's new comic foil, Mr. Stephen, and child actors Georgina Leonidas and Michael Hayes as friends of Basil and Stephen's (as with Ivan Owen, the identity of Basil's voice actor/puppeteer remains a closely guarded secret). Other characters included Basil's hyperactive nephew Bingo, his criminal cousin Mortimer, latter day hippie Madison, and Lethal Chef Anil. The revived series followed a more straightforward sitcom format with animated inserts and ran until 2007.


  • Aside Glance: Usually accompanied by a low chuckle.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: After Mr. Steven gives away a large sum of money that wasn't his (thus fulfilling the moral lesson for the episode) that could have allowed him to go to the Maldives, Basil comes out with this little gem...
    Basil: You know, sometimes my admiration for Mr Steven (beat) goes right through the bleeding floor!
  • Be Careful What You Say: Happens when they turns the flat into the best, worst hotel in the world.
    Molly: (trying to get Stephen to understand that their problems are over) We can even afford to pay the landlord.
    Basil: Speak of the Devil and he shall appear.
    (Sure enough, Mr Rossiter appears at the door, in a devil costume and accompanied by ominous music)
  • Brick Joke: Plenty. One would often be setup at the start and appear at the end.
    Basil: You don't know anyone who's lost any bees do you?
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Stephen.
  • Catch-Phrase: Basil's trademark 'Boom! Boom!'. Other members of the Brush family have their own variations (e.g. Cousin Mortimer's 'Bang! Bang!', Nephew Bingo's 'Bing! Bing!', Uncle Maximillion's 'Bank! Bank!' and Sir Lancelot De Brush's 'Ye Boom! Ye Boom!')
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Steven's Love Interest in season one had the excuse of being fired from the show due to joining Mortimer. Ella in season 2 however vanishes for no reason come season 3.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Fails hilariously in-universe when it's revealed the show only has four fans.
  • Death Course: Basil and Stephen end up going through one of these after discovering the tomb of King Tutenbeck under the flat.
  • Evil Twin: In this case, Evil Cousin. Cousin Mortimer to be exact.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Madison got more notice than other women in the series (women older than the younger characters of course) and in the episode Revenge of the Mummy she was dressed as a Playboy Bunny.
  • Flanderization: Mr. Steven alone became much more of a Butt-Monkey and got more childish with each season.
  • Food Fight: Happens in the very first episode, ending with someone hitting the camera, causing the camera crew to desert them.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Farmer: Oh... bullocks! (cue short clip of young bulls)
    • Another one in the first episode where Mr. Steven gets a bit carried away with planning his future with his crush.
    Mr. Steven: Go on a date, get engaged, get married, move in together etc. etc. etc!
    • Madison calling Anil 'Anal'
  • Girls with Moustaches: Molly wears one as part of a throwaway gag.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Slightly twisted in Dave's case.
  • Lava Pit: In this case, a pool of Anil's chilli sauce.
  • Literal Metaphor: A lot. For example, the check bounced.
    • Walls have ears.
    • Climbing the walls in boredom.
  • Mind Screw: They keep going back and forth on either or not they're in a show, in real life or in a show about their lives. Often during the same episode.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: Happens when they encounter the chilli sauce.
    Dave: What we need, is someone so dumb they wouldn't know the risk.
    (Basil pops his head up. Dave and Stephen look at each other. Basil turns to them)
    Basil: Exchange all the knowing looks you like! I've checked the script, and it's Mr Stephen, who goes over the chilli sauce.
    Stephen: (looking rather dismayed as the Mission: Impossible music starts) What?
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: It was much funnier the second time.
  • No Fourth Wall: The 2002 series turns Breaking the Fourth Wall Up to 11. Characters frequently acknowledge that they're on a studio set, reading through the script, talking to the voice over man, cutaways to the writer's room and in several episodes the camera crew get involved in the action.
    Basil: Yes. And I'm a talking fox in a wobbly set with a bunch of drama school drop-outs.
  • One I Prepared Earlier: Parodied. Basil finds a muffin recipe from one of his relatives, but they take 45 minutes to make whilst the show is only 25 minutes. Cue a screenwipe where we see a tray of finished muffins and Basil saying, "And here are some I made earlier."
  • Self-Deprecation: Sometimes the audience's reactions to new developments are shown, yes, all four of them.
  • Squashed Flat: Shame the show ended on such a "flat" note.