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Series / The Basil Brush Show

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"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. The character first appeared in 1962 in a series called The Three Scampies about out-of-work circus performers, and was later paired with magician David Nixon for such series as Nixon at Nine-Five and The Nixon Line, where his comic antics proved such a hit with viewers that he was spun off into his own series.


In the 1968-80 incarnation of The Basil Brush Show, 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, Three Scampies alumnus 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. Basil continues to make sporadic theatre and television appearances to this day.


  • Absentee Actor: Ella is MIA in one season two episode, this was likely done so to have Basil Dragged into Drag.
  • Animal Superheroes: One episode, “The Incapables”, has Basil and Bingo try to be superheroes(The Flying Phantom and Derek, respectively) in order to deal with a crimewave. Unfortunately, they tend to spend more time trying to outdo Stephen and Dave, who took up the mantles of Moghty Muscle and Wide Boy.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: 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.
  • 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.
  • Medium Awareness: It’s quite common for the show to have the characters mention that they’re on a TV show.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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 Eleven. 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."
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: “Foxweight Champion” has the gang set up their own wrestling promotion in Anil’s Cafe, becoming successful enough that their favourite wrestler, The Stone comes out of retirement in order to challenge the entire promotion.
  • Reality Ensues: To deal with a rat problem, Molly buys a cat so it can hunt the rat, however, the cat isn't interested in hunting. Contrary to popular belief, domesticated cats aren't great rat hunters because the rats can detect cats and will adjust their strategies in response.
  • The Scrooge: Dave.
  • Self-Deprecation: Sometimes the audience's reactions to new developments are shown, yes, all four of them.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: In one episode Steven made a wish that he was irresistible to women. By morning everyone saw him as such, however he soon regretted the wish and begged to be put back the way he was.
  • Squashed Flat: Shame the show ended on such a "flat" note.
  • Speak of the Devil: Played for laughs in “The Pitz Hotel”, where Molly mentions the profits from turning the flat into a hotel can help them pay off the landlord. Basil namedrops the trope, and then the landlord comes in, dressed as a Big Red Devil.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Their attempt to run the "Worst Hotel in Britain" ends up attracting tourists.


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