Gordon Murray, producer and puppeteer – obituary


Gordon Murray, who has died aged 95, created Camberwick Inexperienced, Chigley and Trumpton, three of the best-loved sequence for youthful youngsters on BBC Tv, first screened within the Sixties.

His stop-motion Trumptonshire puppet trilogy started in 1966 with Camberwick Inexperienced, which ought to have been Candlewick Inexperienced however for a typing error by a BBC secretary making ready Murray’s contract. Animated by Bob Bura and John Hardwick, it was a delicate village cleaning soap opera set deep within the English countryside with a galère of characters starting from the gossipy Mrs Honeyman and Dr Mopp together with his boneshaker automobile to maybe the best-remembered, Windy Miller of Colley’s Mill.

Because the villagers went about their enterprise, toy troopers garrisoned at Pippin Fort, below the command of Captain Snort and Sergeant Main Grout, had been available to type out any issues, of which there gave the impression to be, conveniently sufficient, one per episode. The primary sequence was an prompt success, critics evaluating it with Coronation Road or (extra precisely) The Archers.

Gordon Murray Credit score: Gordon Murray Property

A yr later Murray launched a few of his Camberwick Inexperienced characters into Trumpton, a small city through which the trouble-shooting was dealt with by the native hearth brigade fairly than the soldiery. The every day roll-call “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb” turned a youngsters’s catchphrase. (Murray defined the presence of two Pughs by stating they had been twins.) Every episode opened with the Trumpton clock “telling the time for Trumpton” and ended with a live performance by the fireplace brigade band within the native park.

In 1969 Murray devised the third instalment of his trilogy, Chigley – a hamlet “close to Camberwick Inexperienced, Trumptonshire” – through which he launched a brand new forged of characters however which had been joined by some acquainted ones from the sooner sequence. Though Murray made solely 13 episodes of every, repeats had been broadcast for a few years and whereas the storylines had been restricted and the songs repetitive, his charming characterisations – and Brian Cant’s whimsical narration – elevated the sequence to traditional standing.

Murray fairly resented the arrival in 1981 of the sequence Postman Pat – Pat, he identified strongly resembled Peter the Postman in Camberwick Inexperienced. Certainly he was so upset when he noticed it that “I by no means noticed it once more, on precept”.

He was given to such petulant gestures: when he felt his eight-inch characters had been not incomes their hold, within the mid-Eighties he made a bonfire in his again backyard and burned the lot, together with the units, saying he “didn’t need them to get into the mistaken arms”. However 10 years later, in 1995, Channel 4 purchased the rights for all 39 of Murray’s movies and broadcast them to a brand new technology of Trumptonshire followers.

Camberwick Inexperienced Credit score: Movie Stills

Murray regarded his work as an elegy for misplaced innocence and the abbreviation of contemporary childhood. “Youngsters develop up far too quickly,” he mirrored. “Earlier than you understand it, they’re having condoms handed out in school. It’s not a world that encourages them to be individuals.”

Gordon Marr Murray was born on Might 3 1921 at Wandsworth. Younger Gordon developed a love for puppets from an early age, inspired by his father, a brief story author and church commissioner, who took him to music-halls to see marionette reveals. On leaving the Emanuel College in Wandsworth, in 1937, he joined the writer C Arthur Pearson as a junior sub-editor however when struggle loomed in June 1939 enlisted as a personal within the London Scottish Territorials.

Windy Miller from Camberwick Inexperienced Credit score: Basic Value Library

In December 1942 he skilled as a radio mechanic with the REME and in April 1944 was commissioned as a lieutenant within the Royal Alerts, serving in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. After some harrowing struggle experiences storming the Normandy seashores Murray transferred to troop reveals and toured as a comic book actor.

On his demob in 1946, Murray wished to start out his personal puppet troupe and, whereas residing in Wandsworth together with his mom, constructed his personal marionette theatre, supporting himself by freelance performing and touring Britain in Peter Pan for 5 seasons. In 1953 he took the plunge, launching his personal skilled puppet firm, Murray Marionettes, at a run-down theatre at Broadstairs with a JB Priestley play about highwaymen, The Excessive Toby, and an Offenbach opera.

Audiences had been disappointingly small, and he fared little higher with a Christmas season at a small theatre in Fulham, however he invited Freda Lingstrom, head of BBC youngsters’s tv, to see the present and so impressed her that she provided him a job pulling the strings of Spotty Canine (“the most important spotty canine you ever did see”) in a brand new sequence for toddlers referred to as The Woodentops.

In 1955, Murray took a BBC manufacturing course and was formally taken on as a contract producer in youngsters’s tv. In addition to The Woodentops he labored on The Flowerpot Males earlier than making a tv model of the radio sequence Toytown.

Gordon Murray Credit score: Gordon Murray Property

Initially his reveals had been broadcast dwell, however Murray turned pissed off by the hazards of dwell transmission and he developed his personal movie studio to document his movies. In 1958 he created The Rubovian Legends, an early collaboration with Bura and Hardwick.

Murray devised new puppet strategies for tv (introducing stop-motion filming imported from japanese Europe), wrote scripts, constructed puppets and skilled a crew of puppeteers to make use of rod and glove puppets in addition to marionettes labored by strings. He labored with John Ryan on the favored Captain Pugwash sequence, and likewise produced the Sketch Membership sequence with the artist Adrian Hill. In 1964 he left the BBC to arrange his personal impartial firm primarily based in a transformed church at Crouch Finish in north London.

In 1975 Murray produced a stop-motion remake of The Rubovian Legends referred to as merely Rubovia, and three years later made Skip and Fluffy, which was screened as a part of BBC Tv’s Multi-Colored Swap Store. His last sequence The Gublins aired in 1979.

With the demise of the Trumptonshire puppets and units, Murray turned to the manufacturing of miniature books below the Silver Thimble imprint, working from house, binding them by hand, inscribing them with calligraphy and illustrating them together with his personal watercolours. The books are actually thought to be collectors’ objects in Britain and America.

In 1988 Murray recreated a few of his Trumptonshire characters for an promoting marketing campaign for bread. Rank Hovis McDougall reportedly paid him £20,000 a yr for the copyright alone.

Gordon Murray’s spouse Enid, a former ballet dancer whom he met throughout his performing years, predeceased him. He’s survived by their two daughters.

Gordon Murray, born Might 3 1921, died June 30 2016


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