'Admittedly a cartoon like Super Ted might be stylistically inferior to one of Shakespeare's tragedies, but what matters is that you find the show entertaining.'
Zoe Griffin, Juice (The Daily Telegraph’s student magazine), issue 19
A faulty teddy bear is removed from the factory line and dumped down a chute into a cellar. Almost immediately, Spottyman, from the planet Spot, lands his Spotty Rocket nearby, breaks into the cellar, and uses cosmic dust to bring the teddy to life. They visit Mother Nature on her spaceborne cloud, where she gives the teddy a potion which grants him superpowers. Quite logically at that point, he adopts the name SuperTed.
SuperTed splits his time between his head-shaped tree house and his pre-Deep Space Nine ring-shaped space station, waiting for video SOS messages from humans. When he is needed, SuperTed utters his secret magic word, which enables him to peel of his fur coat and reveal his superhero outfit, before he and Spotty fly off to help.
The pair journey all over the world – his debt to Mother Nature gives him an interest in conservation – as well as to alien planets. SuperTed's arch-enemy is cowboy Texas Pete ("Tex"), with his henchmen Bulk (plus-sized and minus-brained) and Skeleton (a deeply camp skeleton who's all funny bone: see below for quotations).
Voices: Peter Hawkins as Narrator; Derek Griffiths as SuperTed; Jon Pertwee as Spottyman; Roy Kinnear as Bulk; Melvyn Hayes as Skeleton.
Derek Griffiths, whose career has also included Play School and Coronation Street, was interviewed by Garry Vaux for his 2009 book Legends of Kids TV. Derek commented that working on SuperTed was 'such a laugh, so much so that they brought in a film documentary crew to produce a 'making of' programme but [they] couldn't use it as it was just so filthy!'
All the original cartoons are available to buy on DVD.
When you've finished on this page, you might like to read this article on SuperTed, originally published in Animator magazine in Autumn 1984.
Better still, here's the fantastic SuperTed Facebook page. Run by SuperTed creator Mike Young and his family, it's full of exclusive photos and updates, from the stage show to the new series...
In July 2014, Mike Young told the Radio Times that plans were apaw (OK, afoot) to bring back SuperTed for 26 half-hour episodes, which he hoped would be picked up for broadcast in 2016. According to Mike Young, there will be a nod to changing times and political correctness but not at the expense of 'the charm of the original'. No complaints here!
In February 2016, Mike Young was quoted in The Telegraph and elsewhere as saying, "We hope it will be back in production this year." No more news since then, but it'll be worth the wait. For those who feel the world is stuffed, who better to save it than a stuffed superhero?
Further updates, courtesy of Mike Young's SuperTed Facebook page:
July 2016 - ' We have just appointed two great BRITISH animation writers and have embarked on the process of producing a new series along with our partners Anne Niles, Ian Miles and Dan Harris at Abbey Home Entertainment.'
February 2017 - 'We are on with scripts for a new series! Perhaps SuperTed will be the first and last series I shall produce.... it takes a couple of years folks!'
Hyperlinks take you to stills from the episodes, kindly hosted by other SuperTed webpages.
Supersafe with SuperTed
Locations: Planet Spot, Cardiff
Award-winning road safety film. After playing a road safety video game, SuperTed takes Spotty to Earth to teach him about the real thing.
SuperTed And The Stolen Rocket
Locations: Rocket station, Space
Texas Pete, Bulk and Skeleton steal Earth’s fastest rocket at its launch. SuperTed and Spotty give chase in the Spotty Rocket.
SuperTed And The Inca Treasure
Location: South America
SuperTed promises to help a museum curator recover treasure from an Inca temple, but Texas Pete shoots down Spotty’s rocket and gets there first…
SuperTed And The Elephants’ Graveyard
Someone – you may be able to guess who – has been looting ivory tusks from a sacred graveyard of the elephants, and SuperTed comes to stop it.
SuperTed And The Train Robbers
Location: Unspecified snowy mountains
SuperTed is teaching Spotty to ski in the mountains, but they divert when Texas Pete hijacks a nearby train.
SuperTed And The Giant Kites
Texas Pete is stealing kite eggs from nests in Wales, and SuperTed is called to help.
SuperTed And The Pearlfishers
Texas Pete is forcing islanders to fish for pearls.
SuperTed And The Nuts In Space
Locations: Planet Polly, space
Texas Pete hijacks a brazil nut shipment on its way from Earth to the planet Polly (inhabited by parrots). SuperTed to the rescue.
SuperTed And The City Of The Dead
Locations: Space Station, Egypt
Texas Pete sets out to raid an Ancient Egyptian tomb, heedless of its curse…
SuperTed And The Creepy Castle
Locations: Space Station, castle
SuperTed is called in by a young girl, whose father is missing in a haunted castle. He has been kidnapped by Texas Pete and his henchmen, as they aim to use the secluded castle for stashing treasure.
SuperTed On Planet Spot
Locations: Space, Planet Spot
While SuperTed is staying with Spotty’s family on planet Spot, Texas Pete heads to the planet to steal cosmic dust, hoping to use its powers to resurrect Billy The Kid. But when his rocket crashes, Skeleton is scattered wide and far, and Bulk kidnaps Spotty’s sister, Blotch.
SuperTed At The Fun Fair
Locations: Space Station, fun fair
Spotty is ill in bed on the space station, so it is up to SuperTed to help reunite a mother with her son, who is lost at a funfair, kidnapped by Texas Pete.
At the end of this episode, SuperTed takes a photo of the villains, which later appears in a photo album in SuperTed And The Rattlesnake.
SuperTed And The Goldmine
Locations: Tree house, Africa
Texas Pete takes over a goldmine, but an accident interrupts the SOS message before SuperTed hears it.
Locations: Unspecified rocky plain, unspecified prison, marshland, graveyard
As Texas Pete, Bulk and Skeleton take time off round a campfire, Bulk recalls the story of how the trio came together, with Bulk and Tex as escaped cellmates, and Skeleton sleeping in a nearby graveyard. Meanwhile, SuperTed and Spotty look set to crashland at the campfire…
SuperTed At The Toy Shop
Locations: Tree house, unspecified American city
Checking his video monitor, SuperTed suspects a problem at a city toyshop. As it turns out, Texas Pete and company have broken in.
SuperTed In The Arctic
Texas Pete is hunting woolly mammoths in the Arctic, and an Eskimo boy asks SuperTed to help.
SuperTed And The Gun Smugglers
While SuperTed takes a beach holiday, Texas Pete is smuggling arms in an underwater hideout with his submarine. But how will a stray cigar affect his plans, and his hostage?
SuperTed And The Lumberjacks
Locations: Tree house, unspecified forest, lake
A squirrel warns SuperTed of excessive logging being carried out by Texas Pete, that is threatening wildlife habitats.
SuperTed And Mother Nature
Locations: Tree house & environs, Mother Nature’s Cloud
Texas Pete finds Mother Nature’s magic cloud, and takes over her weather controls, making problems for SuperTed on Earth.
SuperTed And The Pothole Rescue
SuperTed and Spotty head underground to help a trapped potholer, but Spotty himself is injured.
Uniquely, this episode does not feature the villains.
SuperTed Kicks Up The Dust
Locations: Tree house, Arabia
To SuperTed’s great concern, Spotty donates cosmic dust to an Arabian museum. Accordingly, Texas Pete steals it.
This episode includes Bulk as a belly dancer, Bulk in a Chariots Of Fire-style dash, and Skeleton begging for the trio to steal a tiara instead.
SuperTed And The Gorilla
Location: Unspecified jungle
The villains have captured a gorilla as a moneymaking sideshow, but SuperTed isn’t standing for it. Not this time.
SuperTed And The Great Horrendo
Location: Unspecified British pier
Texas Pete is posing as the Great Horrendo, a seaside magician, in order to steal children’s valuables.
Includes Skeleton as the female assistant. Also features a tender moment when SuperTed believes that ‘Spotty! My only friend!’ has been cut in half.
This episode won a BAFTA award in 1986/7! Click here to see a picture.
SuperTed And Trouble In Space: Part One
Locations: Space Station & environs
Spotty’s family are heading for the space station in order to visit him, and SuperTed pops out to check on a broken satellite. Due to an unfortunate series of incidents, Spotty’s sister Blotch is lost in space, Texas Pete takes over the space station, and SuperTed is left drifting in space, with amnesia.
SuperTed And Trouble In Space: Part Two
Locations: Space Station & environs
Spotty’s parents rescue SuperTed, and head to the space station. They are soon tied up by Tex and sent hurtling towards the Sun, where Blotch is also heading. Clichéd rhetorical question: will SuperTed regain his memory in time?
80sNostalgia.com has a RealVideo clip from this episode.
SuperTed In Chinatown
Location: Hong Kong
In Hong Kong, Texas Pete, Bulk and Skeleton attempt to break into the bank, but instead blow a hole in a restaurant kitchen, where Spotty and SuperTed are dining.
One of a few episodes where Spotty loses his patience with SuperTed for constantly criticising him.
SuperTed Goes To Texas
SuperTed is called to Texas, where a nostalgic Texas Pete is cattle rustling. Unexpected help arrives in the form of Tex’s blonde doppelganger.
SuperTed Goes Round The Bend
Location: Unspecified seaside town
In a quiet town, SuperTed has bought a car in order to teach Spotty to drive. But the car, although leaking brake fluid, is stolen by Texas Pete as a getaway vehicle for his bank robbery.
SuperTed And The Rattlesnake
Locations: Space Station, unspecified American city
To bring Tex out of his depression at always being foiled by SuperTed, Bulk and Skeleton steal a rattlesnake for him – but SuperTed finds out…
Locations: Space Station, fictional Texas town
SuperTed is woken when Spotty locks himself out of the space station. When SuperTed scolds Spotty, his friend attacks him for his over-critical nature. Returning guiltily to sleep, SuperTed dreams that Spotty never saved him from the scrap heap; instead, Texas Pete did. Married to Skeleton, he gives the ordinary teddy to their son, baby Bulk to play with…
A heavy psychological episode, with concerns over friendship, fallibility, parenthood, abandonment… what am I talking about?
80sNostalgia.com has a RealVideo clip from this episode.
SuperTed And The Crystal Ball
Locations: Tree house, unspecified forest
Texas Pete steals a gypsy’s crystal ball, and poses as a crooked fortune teller. SuperTed tracks him down.
Tex, in disguise, gives SuperTed a disturbing false prediction, in which he is executed by Mother Nature for crimes against nature.
SuperTed And The Whales
Locations: Space Station, North Wales & nearby sea
SuperTed aids a beached whale in North Wales, and follows him to his family, the target of Texas Pete’s whaling venture.
SuperTed Meets Father Christmas
Locations: Tree house, unspecified regions of the British Isles
Texas Pete poses as Father Christmas, in order to steal children’s presents. SuperTed is called by a victim, and looks into the problem, meeting the real Father Christmas on the way.
A violent episode, where we see a child being whacked, a man being attacked and having his hair torn out, and SuperTed being painfully whipped.
SuperTed And Tex’s Magic Spell
Location: Unspecifed tropical island
Texas Pete steals SuperTed’s beloved spotted teddy bear, and performs voodoo magic on it, to drain SuperTed’s powers.
SuperTed And The Magic Word: Part One
Locations: Tree house & environs, New York
In an elaborate scheme, SuperTed’s tree house is bugged while he is out on a staged emergency, and Bulk is able to hear SuperTed’s secret magic word.
SuperTed And The Magic Word: Part Two
Locations: Tree house & environs, New York
Texas Pete and SuperTed alike try to track down the new, airborne ‘SuperBulk’, while Skeleton tries to get his arm back from a vicious seagull.
Spotty And The Indians
Locations: Space, Tree house, North America
On his way to visit SuperTed, Spotty’s rocket gets ‘the staggers’ and crashes as he is sending out an SOS. Spotty comes across a spotted tribe of Native Americans, whose sacred buffalo is being hunted by Texas Pete.
There are many video clips of SuperTed online, including YouTube. Perhaps the best is this tribute, where the backing music is an extended version of the closing theme, with lyrics provided too. Thank you to jackoejacko for this.
The SuperTed cartoons feature arguably the campest cartoon character ever: Skeleton (played by Melvyn Hayes). In 2014, creator Mike Young went as far as to describe Skeleton as 'flamboyantly gay'.
Here are some examples below of great Skeleton moments:
‘Do you mind? Barging in here without so much as a by-your-leave! I could’ve been doing something really personal!’
Skeleton, at his first meeting with Bulk and Texas Pete, when they fall into his tomb, in the flashback episode Bulk’s Story. At this time, Skeleton was wearing a nightgown; from then on, his day-to-day wear consisted of red-pink slippers, and nothing else.
In SuperTed At The Toy Shop, the baddies break into a toy shop. Skeleton amuses himself by bottle-feeding a doll, simultaneously criticising Bulk.
‘Oh, Bulk. you’re so uncouth.’
In SuperTed At The Creepy Castle, Skeleton gets scared and hides in a vat of wine. When Texas Pete finds him, Skeleton conducts a wine tasting!
‘It’s got a dry, fruity taste, just like–’
In SuperTed And The Stolen Rocket, Skeleton reacts to zero gravity in space.
TEXAS PETE: Skeleton, let go! You’re pulling down my pants!
SKELETON: There isn’t anything else to hold onto!
‘Ooh, Tex! You’re so naughty!’
Skeleton, whilst clasping his hands in delight at Texas Pete’s latest scheme, in SuperTed And Mother Nature.
‘You’re cold? With all that blubber? I’m positively chilled to the bone! And my mittens clash with my muffler!’
Skeleton to Bulk, on the ice planet Ondarox, in Knox, Knox, Who’s There?, one of the newer American cartoon adventures.
‘Can’t I stay here with my friend?’
Skeleton, caught by SuperTed hiding with his arm round a fake skeleton on a ghost train ride, in SuperTed At The Fun Fair.
In Trouble in Space: Part Two, Skeleton is reluctant to help with the washing-up, as he wants to keep his hands ‘soft and gentle’.
In SuperTed And The Great Horrendo, where Texas Pete acts as a magician, Skeleton dresses up as his female assistant, complete with frilly dress and lipstick. His voice remains the same.
In SuperTed Kicks Up Dust, Skeleton is distracted during a museum heist by a jewel-encrusted tiara.
‘Can’t we steal it, Tex? I’d look lovely in that tiara.’
In SuperTed And The Rattlesnake, Skeleton grasps the leg of a depressed Tex, saying, ‘I appreciate you, Tex.’ When Bulk thinks of a gift for Texas Pete, Skeleton hugs him and cries, ‘Oh, Bulk, you’re wonderful!’
In SuperTed’s Dream, SuperTed dreams that Skeleton is his mother! (Bearing in mind that SuperTed was thrown away by his parent-factory for being less perfect than his brothers, and has his as his only companion the non-superpowered alien who gave him life, we can’t blame the bear for having ‘issues’.)
In SuperTed And Tex’s Magic Spell, Texas Pete finds his henchmen attempting voodoo, and asks them what they are up to. Skeleton replies:
‘It’s magic, and it’s evil evil EVIL!’
My other observation: the strangely close similarities between SuperTed & Spotty, and Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street…
If you own a SuperTed teddy bear, you're in good company. In 2014, Karen Gillan tweeted a photo of herself with one. Jon Pertwee also went from Doctor Who to SuperTed.