2017-07-06 16:32:50 UTC
Carol Lee Scott obituary
Actor who played Grotbags, wicked witch in the children’s TV show Emu’s World and star of a hit spin-off series
Thursday 6 July 2017 11.57 EDT Last modified on Thursday 6 July 2017 11.58 EDT
The entertainer Carol Lee Scott, who has died of cancer aged 74, took time out of her career as a singer on the cabaret circuit to play one of children’s television’s most colourful characters, Grotbags, complete with green hair and skin, a blacked-out tooth and increasingly outlandish outfits.
Wearing moon boots and looking like a pantomime villain, Scott first played the wicked witch in Emu’s World (1982-84 and 1988) alongside Rod Hull, trying to lure his anarchic puppet Emu to her castle, Gloomy Fortress, so that she could use its special powers to control the all-singing, all-dancing children from the Pink Windmill – “brats”, she called them. She kept her own servant, Croc, in line by hitting him with her bazazzer, an umbrella-shaped stick with a pointing finger at the end.
Scott continued with Hull in his subsequent programmes, Emu’s All-Live Pink Windmill Show (1984-85), Emu’s Pink Windmill Show (1986), Emu’s Wide World (1987-88) and EMU TV (1989), as well as voicing the witch in his 1991 cartoon series, Rod ’n’ Emu.
Then, with the puppeteer Richard Coombs – who had worked with Jim Henson – she devised her own series, Grotbags (1991-93), whose new characters included Dorris the Dodo and Colin the Bat. She also played Auntie Kipplewick in some episodes and the shows became a cult hit with university students as well as children.
The origins of Grotbags went back to Scott’s time in a summer season in Cleethorpes on the same bill as Hull, who had been commissioned by ITV to make a new series and offered her a part. “I had this idea for a fat fairy character who kept casting spells that always went wrong,” she recalled. “Rod really liked the idea of a witch, so I said that she had to be a silly witch rather than a sinister witch. A great friend of ours … always used to call me ‘Miss Grot’, so I suggested that to Rod. He went away and came back the next day with ‘Grotbags’.”
She was born in Bridgwater, Somerset, daughter of Scott Waterman, a garage owner, and his wife, Gladys (nee Rossiter and known as “Babe”), who ran a cafe. Carol learned to play the piano by ear as a child, enjoyed singing and, on leaving Bridgwater grammar school at 15, worked in a local record shop and performed in concerts and pantomimes.
Then, with the puppeteer Richard Coombs – who had worked with Jim Henson – she devised her own series, Grotbags (1991-93), whose new characters included Dorris the Dodo and Colin the Bat. She also played Auntie Kipplewick in some episodes and the shows became a cult hit with university students as well as appearing in summer seasons with stars such as Max Wall, Arthur Askey, Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise.
Her act also included comedy and she took her professional name from her father’s forename and added “Lee” because the actors’ union, Equity, already had a member called Carol Scott.
In 1974 she recorded an album, In Time, to sell to fans at her gigs. Two of the tracks, That Little Bit of Love and You Gotta Believe, were re-released as a single in 2005 by Licorice Soul Records, a label dedicated to giving new life to obscure dance-floor music. “Carol’s vocal talents were bold and sassy and the record is an essential purchase for anyone into classic 70s funk,” wrote one reviewer.
Scott, who was also a regular in pantomime, married Bill Ling in 1967. He died in 2013.
• Carol Lee Scott, singer and actor, born 20 December 1942; died 4 July 2017