Just when we thought we had plumbed the depths of TV's darker moments a new scandal rises to the surface. But whilst the initial decision to refuse Soo promotion on grounds of gender would have been a clear act of direct discrimination would Soo really have grounds now to sue? Leaving aside the fact that the offence predated our equality legislation (and that she is a puppet) Soo may sadly have missed her chance to claim when she accepted the job offer that eventually came. Equally she long ago missed the three month deadline. But what of on-going acts of discrimination? Only last week an episode was screened in which Soo was excluded from a flour fight in the kitchen - success in which can lead to valuable bonuses for the boys. Such continuing acts of discrimination may well have kept her claim alive and Soo (and the production company) should take expert advice quickly.
Of course what they story really shows us is the extent of deeply ingrained prejudices during the 1960 - and some may say how far we've come. Yet progressive as the Corbetts were, the show's producer no doubt felt his attitude was fair and in keeping with the times. Are we also blinded from time to time? Of course society has progressed but equality remains a major issue. It Is a valuable lesson for employers to test themselves constantly to ensure that they are really with the program and not just the radio times. For Soo and others the fight may yet be to come. Operation Cross Bear continues.
The idea to introduce a female puppet to Sooty's children's TV show in the 1960s was so controversial that the BBC director general had to intervene, a new documentary has revealed. The suggestion by Sooty creator Harry Corbett caused a furore in the press, which claimed it would "introduce sex into a children's programme". The show's producer and a BBC governor were against Sooty having a girlfriend. BBC DG Hugh Carleton Greene stepped in to allow panda Soo's introduction. Matthew Corbett, Harry's son, told the documentary: "My father was called into the head office and the director general of the BBC said he had made a decision." He said Greene had ruled that Sooty having a female friend "was to be allowed - but they must never touch".