He’s a star on TV, just for you and for me
Who gets post by the ton
Woah, oh, oh, oh, oh
It’s Gus Honeybun
If you were a child growing up in the Plymouth area from the 1960s until the early 1990s, there’s a chance you might have asked this infamous puppet to help celebrate your birthday.
Before Gordon the Gopher and Edd the Duck became institutions with national broadcasters like the BBC, Plymouth had its own popular television character in the shape of this cheeky bunny.
Augustus Jeremiah Honeybun, or Gus Honeybun for short, was the station mascot for Westward Television and then Television South West (TSW) from 1961 until 1992.
He had his own wardrobe assistant, theme tune and merchandise range.
He would appear with a presenter who read out a series of birthday cards sent in by the public on behalf of their children. Gus would give a bunny hop for each year of the child’s life. His repertoire was also expanded to include winks, head stands, ear waggles and hitting a ‘magic button’ which changed the image on the screen behind him.
12 was the official age limit for having your birthday read out on air, although adults would also send in cards for themselves with a false age on them, such was Gus’ cult following.
Gus’ final television appearance aired on 31 December 1992 at the end of the very last ‘TSW Today’ programme, before Westcountry Television took over the franchise. He then returned to Dartmoor where he’d apparently been discovered so he could be reunited with his rabbit family – or did he……….
The Box has two of the four Gus Honeybun puppets that were made in its collections, including the puppet that took part in this final broadcast.
He still wears the ‘made to measure’ red and black tartan kilt he wore on that day nearly 30 years ago! He’s not in tip-top condition (we haven’t asked him too many questions about the ‘wrap party’) so is safely in storage. Meanwhile, his alter ego or ‘stunt double’, dressed in a very fetching green outfit, will be on display in The Box’s ‘Media Lab’ gallery when it opens along with the original design work for the making of the puppets.
Both puppets, along with a large collection of film and tape assets, were transferred to the South West Film and Television Archive (now part of The Box) from TSW when it lost the franchise in 1992.
Interestingly, Gus is mentioned in the official transfer paperwork. Part of the agreement when the collection and the bunnies were transferred was that no two Gus Honeybuns would ever be seen in the same room at the same time. A testament to the enduring brand power of the South West’s favourite rabbit!