Basil the punning fox is back from his travels

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Basil Brush, the glove puppet fox with the infectious laugh and the unremitting puns, is to be relaunched with his own television show next year.

Since the end of his last series in 1982 the well-dressed star of children's television has been living in secluded retirement with his creator Ivan Owen. But on 4 July this year, Mr Owen signed Basil over in a secret deal with Southampton entrepreneur and ardent Brush fan, Bill Haslam, who immediately formed a new company - Boom! Boom! Ltd.

Armed with one of the two original glove puppets, the company began a search for a new voice for Basil.

"We want to keep Basil just as he was," said Mr Haslam, "so we have been auditioning since the summer for the right person. We think we have found the perfect successor, but we can't release the name of the new voice yet."

This week Mr Haslam has clinched a substantial finance deal with investment capitalists Guinness-Mahon and he will now be able to produce the new television series himself.

"We have had a lot of interest from several channels, but there is no deal yet. We hope Basil will be back on screen before the end of next year."

While the resurrected Basil is still a confirmed bachelor, there are some changes planned.

"There was never much said about Basil's relatives in the previous series, but we will be introducing several new family members and friends in the next series," Mr Haslam explains. "Topically enough, one of his friends is called Harry the Hound."

Since the days of his TV stardom Basil has been successfully investing on the stock market and is now a wealthy fox with his own country manor house.

"A number of his friends will live in the woods around his home," reveals Mr Haslam, "but Basil has also travelled extensively in the last few years and will be re-living plenty of his foreign adventures."

All the changes to the Brush format have apparently been made with the full approval of Mr Owen.

"Ivan has been consulted all the way along. He is a charming man and I think he has just decided to take things easy these days. He did make an appearance with Basil as a guest team manager on Fantasy Football recently, but apart from that he has done nothing on television."

One question remains: who will follow in the footsteps of Mr Derek, Mr Roy and, way back in the mists of time, Rodney Bewes, as Basil's trusty straight man?

"We are looking at the suggestion of using Noddy Holder from Slade, which would be good," said Mr Haslam. "But again, nothing has been signed yet."