Bosco energised about the power of imagination

Bosco is still enthralling children to this day, and Ireland’s favourite red-head is now putting his talents to raising money for the LauraLynn children’s hospice, writes Liz O’Brien

Bosco and Environment Minister Denis Naughten launch WEEE's battery recycling campaign in aid of LauraLynn Children's Hospice. Picture: Julien Behal

Bosco’s favourite things to do include watching Netflix, hanging with Dustin the turkey, going to the zoo, and fashioning cardboard rockets from toilet roll inserts.

And, when he’s not doing any of that, he’s doing what he does best — entertaining the nation’s boys and girls, but now in the form of theatrical performances.

Despite being around since the late 1970s, the eternally youthful five-year-old is still a crowd favourite. Over the years, Bosco has had many career highlights — outselling U2 with Bosco’s LP in 1983, conducting the RTÉ concert orchestra, performing at Electric Picnic, and appearing on The Late Late Toy Show.

However his most important work, to date, is promoting Laura Lynn by helping WEEE Ireland raise almost a €250,000 for the children’s hospice.

“You have to collect all your own batteries and pop them in the WEEE Ireland blue boxes and all the money that comes from recycling the batteries goes to Laura Lynn — Ireland’s only children’s hospice.

“I’ve been there lots and I love going there, it’s a lovely place to go and visit all the children.”

Bosco is undoubtedly one Ireland’s most loved red-heads. Recently, Bosco and his puppeteer Paula Lambert were guests on RTÉ One’s TV show, Today, with hosts Maura Derrane and Dáithí Ó Sé.

The Gaelgoirs both grew up watching Bosco. Maura “used to run home every day from school” to watch his TV show and Dáithí has a favourite episode — the one where Bosco visited an ice-cream factory!

As the TV presenters competed in a bit of “make and do”, Bosco told Dáithí not to “give up the day job!

“I don’t know what that means, but I’ve heard it said before,” Bosco said.

In retaliation, Dáithí tried to trim Bosco’s red hair, with a (child-friendly) scissors.

Paula Lambert later said that she was sure lots of people over the years had “felt like chopping Bosco’s head off!”

“I’m sure that’s the sentiment of a lot of adults, when they were watching Bosco with their children, because I’m sure the voice used to annoy them!”

Paula never tires of seeing how people react when they meet Bosco. Even recently, one young woman cried when she met the puppet.

“I came home that day and told my son that there was a girl there who cried getting her photograph taken with Bosco and he said: “Mum, that happens all the time!”

“And I love him (Bosco) for that — that he can do that to people … and that they have such lovely memories.

“I love him and I owe him a lot; he reared my kids.

Paula Lambert, from Dun Laoghaire, was born in to a family of puppeteers; her dad Eugene Lambert owner of the Lambert Puppet Theatre in Monkstown, Dublin, and co-starred as O’Brien in the RTÉ TV series Wanderly Wagon, which Paula also worked on.

She refers to those years as “the glory days of children’s television”.

“I was the squirrel in Wanderly Wagon years before Bosco and then worked in the puppet theatre as well, so I didn’t fall into puppetry, I was born into it.”

Paula describes Bosco as “a nice simple, little character” and while she refers to the puppet as a “he”, she says Bosco is neither male, or female.

“Bosco isn’t a he or a she, but I always say he when I’m talking about him, he’s just a Bosco.

“In those days, when you think back on it, it was so forward-seeing in a way, because it was never a boy or a girl, or a mammy and a daddy; it was always a grown up… because it was designed for everybody.

“But, when you think of the diversity of family now, it was incredible that back then that we were trying to cater for that before it existed really.

“So society has changed so much but it was so forward seeing at the time that it didn’t exclude anybody.”

People who grew up watching Bosco on TV now bring their kids to Bosco’s live roadshows.

Early next year, Bosco will bring his Hansel and Gretel performance to towns and cities across Ireland including the Dunamaise Arts Theatre, Portlaoise, on January 6, Nenagh Arts Centre, on February 11, Limetree in Limerick on March 3, and he’s off to Cork’s Everyman Palace the next day.

“The first part of the show is a piece with Bosco, it’s a half an hour and it’s funny,” Paula said.

“The kids get really involved in it and it’s very much a participation piece.

“The stories that I do are fairy tales — Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel — and the kids get really involved, it’s kind of like pantomime, but it’s all puppets.”

Paula encourages imaginative play and says it’s as important as ever in the digital age.

“That magic of imagination and play, that princess and pirate world — which are really valuable things when you are growing up — should just be prolonged for as long as possible, because it’s not great when you grow up… and you can’t get it back.

“You can make a whole empire on a beach, you can make a whole play land in your garden with stones and worms and water and mud, it just needs imagination and it doesn’t need anything thrown at it other than time.

“The magic one little seed can grow into a big sunflower today is still the most fascinating thing to me.

“The simplicity and the wonderment of nature in life is just there and it doesn’t require anything just observation really!”

To find out about Bosco’s tour see www.boscosbox.com  




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