Basil Brush on meeting Princess Diana, singing with Abba and his pantomime at Burnley Mechanics
He’s the little fellow who became a national treasure by charming both British royals and international superstars with his mischievous antics and cheeky gags.
Family entertainer Basil Brush has performed for Prince Harry and William and drank tea with Princess Diana at Windsor Castle.
And now the little fox who’s won the heart of millions is bringing his lovable quick wit and iconic catchphrases to the Burnley Mechanics when he stars in pantomime Beauty and the Beast later this month.
Basil said: “I’ve been to the Mechanics for live shows before and I’m looking forward to going back to Burnley, though can we have some better weather please? I was nearly blown across the Atlantic by this wind!”
Basil will help to, literally, kick the Beast into touch as his sidekick, and will share the stage with Kerry Katona, TV personality and former singer of girl band Atomic Kitten.
“I’ve been watching Kerry on TV for many years and I’m excited to be performing with her,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to marry across my species and I hope after the show I can go on a date with her.
“I’m still a single fox and I’ve never been able to tie myself to one girl because I can’t do knots. Ha! Ha! Boom! Boom!”
The Easter pantomime by Anton Benson Productions adds farcical fun to the classic Disney tale of a beautiful young woman who falls in love with the Beast after he takes her captive.
“It’s a fantastic family show - a classic love story with wonderful songs, very funny comedy and lots of cream pies in faces.”
There’s also a chance for children to join Basil on stage and compete for prizes.
Last year, the little fox celebrated a huge milestone: 50 years in showbiz. Having based his persona off Terry Thomas, “one of the greatest comic actors of all time,” he launched his first TV programme, The Basil Brush Show, in 1968.
“It’s gone in a flash but I’m so thrilled to have been going for so long,” he said.
His show was then relaunched in 2000, charming a new generation of children, many of whom, now in their 20s, rushed to meet him and reminisce on their childhoods when he was among the line-up at Glastonbury Festival in both 2016 and 2017.
“Glastonbury was fantastic, though I’m not very good in mud because I’m only 18 inches tall," he added.
But don’t let his tiny stature deceive you.
Basil proved he is not to be underestimated when he went head-to-head with Jenny “The Vixen” Ryan in a celebrity edition of TV quiz show The Chase. He soared to victory with teammate Sam Quek MBE, a British hockey player who helped Great Britain win gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“People think I’m as daft as a brush but I’m as cunning as a fox,” he said.
“I got to sit on Sam’s knee and beat The Vixen. It was a bit of a foxy show.”
Basil also won The Weakest Link, despite not answering a single question right in the preliminary rounds.
But the million pound question: what’s the highlight of his long and successful career?
“I’d say hosting a children’s BBC Proms or meeting the Royal Family when Prince William and Harry were only seven and five years-old. Meeting Princess Diana, who made me a cup of tea, was amazing. She was absolutely delightful.
“I’d like to go back to Kensington Palace now Kate and William’s children are getting older and meet them all.
“But really everything’s been a highlight, from singing with Abba in the 1970s to winning The Chase and donating the money to children’s charities.
“I’m a very lucky fox.
“And I loved performing across from the late Keith Chegwin in panto. He was an absolute professional and has brilliant comedy timing. And Brian Conley was absolutely brilliant too.”
This year marks a special pantomime milestone for Basil: 50 years since he performed in Aladdin at The London Palladium with the late Cilla Black. The performers are so iconic that a poster for it is still on the wall nearly half a century later.
“She was pregant at the time but I’m not responsible for that,” he quipped.
Perhaps part of his longeivity as an entertainer is down to his willingness to evolve, no better seen than in the launch of his Youtube channel. You can even find him on Twitter.
“I’m a digital fox now and my Twitter handle is @realbasilfox because someone has made a fake profile of me,” he said.
In today’s social media world, a fake account is a testament to one’s enduring status as a national treasure.
“It’s quite an honour to be considered one,” he added. “It feels wonderful to have transcended generations. I’m rather proud of that.
“Today many executives think you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to children’s entertainment but you don’t. Kids love cream pies and traditional one-liners. People say they’re old jokes but each new generation is hearing them for the first time.”
He also maintains his iconic catchphrase, “Boom, boom,” the origins of which he won’t confirm.
Some say it’s based on old musicals when the word “boom” was used as an exclamation mark after a joke. Others say it was uttered when a former co-star dropped a mic which hit Basil on the head.
Whichever story you decide to believe, there’s is one thing about Basil you can be certain of.
As the TV and Youtube star put it in his own words: “This brush is still going strong.”
Beauty and the Beast: Sunday, March 31st, 1pm and 4-30pm. Tickets: 01282 664400; www.burnleymechanics.co.uk