Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The buyer in the room was Sweep – or rather Richard Cadell, the owner of the rights to Sooty, who bid with a glove puppet on his hand. Sweep made periodic squeaks during the bidding and, as the price reached £2000, fired a water pistol at his opponent in the room.

It is not known whether the puppet is the original version that was bought from Blackpool Pier in 1948 for 7s 6d and used in the 1952 inaugural programme. However, it has the long armpiece that distinguishes the earliest incarnations of the character.

In 1962 Harry Corbett gave it to Violet Marley, senior receptionist at the BBC TV Centre in White City. She passed it onto her niece, who has owned it ever since.

By Roland Arkell