October 10, 2005

Gus Honeybun's Magic Birthdays

Writing about web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A749423

Wow, caught some of Test the Nation on saturday and who should turn up but Judi Spires.

Now this may not mean much to many people here, but Judy Spires loomed large in my childhood as one of the presenters of Gus Honeybuns Magic Birthdays – a show on South West television.

Now, Gus Honeybun was the big cheese for the under 7s in Devon and Cornwall in the late 70s early 80s. It was a 5 minute filler programme where a local newsreader shared the screen with a crappy puppet (Gus himself no less) and read out birthday wishes to excited under 5s. Gus would then hop up and down or alternatively would headbutt one of three levers in front of him to change the background screen to some whacked out visual.

I have memories of Judi breaking down with laughter at the absurdity of all of this, but most of all I remember kiddies parties where we all dutifully sat round the telly to hear the birthday boy/girl's name read out and watch GH do his epileptic thing.

Trust me, you can keep your bike, the real thing we all wanted was the love of a psyched out stuffed rabbit on local telly.

There was one time when we sat to watch the programme at a party of a friend who had sent some chocolates with the card as a gift to GH. Dear Judi read the card and then pronounced that the enclosed sweets had been crushed and/or melted in the post. Way to let us down gently! There were tears that day.

So it's nice to see Judi has done well for herself, despite the early experiences. Shame GH seems to have been sent to the Plymouth televisual archive. There aren't enough badly made, slightly scary, children's puppets on tv these days…

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  1. Chris Cornwall

    Gus Honeybun, what a legend. I seem to remember him getting progressively more anarchic and destructive. The psychedelic set was the icing on the cake.
    I actually knew people who’s name got read out by that rabbit!

    21 Mar 2007, 21:14

  2. I will have to ask my mum, but I think I may have been one of those lucky few! certainly I also know of people who were treated to that singular honour

    22 Mar 2007, 09:44

  3. Claire Hone

    I met him at the studios I remember and was terrified. I still have a stuffed Gus Honeybun toy that is not on my daughter’s shelf.

    03 Jul 2007, 11:32

  4. Claire – that’s a very cool comment. It would be great to see a photo of that bunny toy. I bet there’s a few people who’d buy that.

    My other claim to SW telly fame was I once rode the donkey’s owned by TV Weather man Craig Rich.

    03 Jul 2007, 21:17

  5. Jo

    does any one know id Gloria Honyford did Gus Honeybuns birthdays? some of us from work are trying to find out a whole list of Gus’s friends…...... I know that he WAS at Flambards living, dont know if he still is, Maybe i should just go there and ask him face to face!!

    07 Sep 2007, 11:33

  6. ooh – don’t know. Maybe.

    07 Sep 2007, 11:37

  7. Doug Revell

    Gloria Hunniford never worked with Gus – she worked for the BBC, and a lot of the time in Northern Ireland. Gus only appeared in SW England. Oh, and he started in 1961, and was vastly popular right away – he got well over 1,000 letters and cards every week.
    I know, because I actually worked him in the early 60’s.
    I was even his scriptwriter, which wasn’t easy, as he never said a word during his entire career. But just like silent movies, if he was doing longer stuff he need a “script”

    17 Sep 2007, 09:49

  8. Doug – OMG! – Your’s was the hand of Gus!

    26 Sep 2007, 14:06

  9. George

    Gus was a legend back in ‘79.

    I was stationed at RAF St Mawgan, we used to drag lunches out to ogle Judi and Fern (Britton) s sessions with Gus. Trust me, kids didnt come into it. The Captain Pugwash urban myth doesn’t even come close.

    03 Oct 2007, 01:17

  10. I don’t remember Fern Britton doing Gus – any photographic evidence?

    Noted that this morning there was a call out for the UK to produce more original children’s programming rather than importing it. Maybe we should put a campaign to reintroduce Gus for the good of the nation’s kids!

    03 Oct 2007, 08:41

  11. Valeri

    Gus Honeybun is alive and well at the Atlantic FM radio studios at Wheal Kitty St Agnes Cornwall. I actually saw him yesterday and will eventually put a picture on my blog.

    06 Nov 2007, 14:30

  12. I am not sure you could ever describe Gus as being ‘well’ but it would be great to see some pictures – let us have a link when they are up!

    06 Nov 2007, 15:03

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