Famous TV puppets from Bagpuss to Basil Brush go on show in Wolverhampton
Come and see some of the most famous faces ever to appear on TV for free – no strings attached.
The one and only Bagpuss, Fozzie Bear from The Muppets, several Clangers, world-famous Thunderbirds Lady Penelope and Parker (M’lady) – and even Basil Brush (Boom! Boom!) have gone on show at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
They’re all in town as part of a major new exhibition looking at 80 years of puppets on TV.
And as well as seeing these legends of the screen in the flesh – sorry, cloth – there’s a host of fascinating facts and trivia on offer.
For instance, did you know that Bagpuss was originally meant to have orange stripes, but the fabric shop delivered pink material by accident.
As for the Clangers, the scripts were written in English then performed on swannee whistles to translate into the distinctive Clanger language. The free display runs until April 29 and is already drawing big crowds to the Lichfield Street venue.
The exhibition is split into two parts, with one room displaying pieces from the ‘Clangers, Bagpuss & Co tour’ from the V&A Museum of Childhood.
An adjoining room shows pieces from exhibition ‘TV Puppets: Icons From 80 Years of Entertainment’.
Among the gems on show is an original set and characters from Cloppa Castle and a genuine 1952 Muffin the Mule marionette.
There are also characters from Noggin the Nog (an absolute classic) and animation exhibitions illustrating the genius behind Ivor the Engine.
The ‘TV Puppets’ collection was gathered together by Michael Dixon, of the National Puppetry Archive who also works for the City of Wolverhampton College.
Zippy and George from Rainbow, Prince Charles’ Spitting Image doll and Soko, the first puppet ever made for TV in 1930, also feature in the exhibition.
Visitors can revisit their childhood free of charge through viewing the colourful creations, as part of the display curated in partnership with the National Puppetry Archive.
Cultural exhibition programmer at the gallery Carol Thompson said people of all ages had been marvelling at the puppets this week.
She said: “People are absolutely loving it. You see them walking around just going ‘wow’. All ages too – there are grandparents, parents, children – of course children recognise the Clangers as it came back on TV in 2015. It’s just so nostalgic. It’s an absolute delight. I remember the Clangers from my own childhood. They were incredibly magical and delightful little creatures. To see them in reality is just lovely. They’re definitely my highlight.”
Ms Thompson added: “We thought it would complement the Clangers, Bagpuss & Co tour.
“It’s just an absolute bonanza of TV puppets. Almost anyone will come along and see something that played a real part of their childhood.
“The nicest thing is seeing how much everyone is enjoying it.”
The Edwards family made the trip from their home in Bridgnorth especially to see the exhibition this week.
Dad Ian, 64, mum Andrea, 60, and son Elliott, 21, said they could all find a puppet they remembered from when they were young.
Elliott, a budding filmmaker, said: “I grew up heavily engrossed in most of this.
“I think everyone in my generation grew up watching Basil Brush and there’s just something timeless about the Clangers and Thunderbirds.”
The TV puppets exhibition runs until April 29. Visit wolverhamptonart.org.uk for more details.