Thursday, 30 June 2016

The death of Windy Miller



Another little piece of my childhood has gone - with the news that Gordon Murray, creator and puppeteer of some of the BBC's most popular children's series ever, has died at the age of 95. [Who even knew he was still with us?]

When we were just little kids, Mr Murray's fabled "stop-go animation" series Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley were a staple diet for my sister and I.

We would get excited trying to guess which character would appear out of the "musical box, all wound up and ready to play"...



...and would always be disappointed if it wasn't Windy Miller!

I remember singing along with the silliest of songs (every character had their own), including Windy himself - forever dodging those blasted sails on his windmill...



...PC MCGarry (number 452)...



...and, of course, the Army Truck!



Anyone of our generation can still, to this day, chant along with the firemen's roll-call - "Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub!"



And my sister and I's speciality was to run to the kitchen to retrieve saucepan lids in order to play along with the brass band:



Facts:
  • Prior to the "Trumptonshire" series, Mr Murray operated the "Spotty Dog" puppet in The Woodentops and was the producer of Captain Pugwash.
  • Camberwick Green was the first children's show to be aired in colour on the BBC in 1966.
  • Although there were only 13 episodes of Camberwick Green, 13 of Trumpton, and 13 of Chigley, one or other was shown regularly on the BBC until 1985, and then on Channel 4 from 1994 to 2000.
  • In a fit of pique, in the mid-1980s Mr Murray made a bonfire in his back garden and burned all the original puppets, and the sets, saying he “didn’t want them to get into the wrong hands”.
  • The original masters of the three series were believed to have been lost, but when boxes of some original film were discovered in Gordon Murray's attic, the trilogy was restored and remastered by the BBC in 2011.
RIP, Gordon Murray (3rd May 1921 – 30th June 2016)

You made us very happy when we were tiny.

4 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I loved this too. Interesting that he burnt those puppets.... but imagine what someone like Damien Hirst would have done with them?! It would have been nice to see them in a children's museum.
    Sx

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    1. I believe the same fate awaited the original Thunderbirds, too. And I can't imagine the horrors that Bagpuss might well have gone through. Jx

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    2. Some lovely memories, especially fighting to get the best saucepan lids to bash together :-). Mind you, puppets or no, they still managed to pay homage to Trumpton in the first series of Life on Mars - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Djm6k-GGIBk. Hils x

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    3. I'm not sure how the apparently curmudgeonly Mr Murray would have dealt with that - apparently he was furious with the creators of Postman Pat. According to his obituary: he was so upset when he saw it that “I never saw it again, on principle”. Jx

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