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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!
"Cloppa Castle" (Mary Turner & John Read / ITC)

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Cloppa Castle
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producers: Mary Turner & John Read
                        for ITC
   puppet style: string puppets
        episodes: 52 x 10mins

    "If you go down to Cloppa Castle,
     be prepared to stay awhile..."

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     In this splendid series, Cloppa Castle is a medieval fort under permanent siege
     from a band of angry rebels, bent upon usurping the throne and laying claim to
     the oil resources found beneath the castle grounds - that's unless it's tea time,
     then this friendly enemy will partake of a cuppa with their opposite number....

      Osmosis in "Cloppa Castle" (Mary Turner & John Read / ITC)    Mudlin in "Clopa Catle" (Mary Turner & John Read / ITC)

     The Bygones

     Cloppa Castle is the stronghold of the Bygones, a mixed bunch of crazy courtiers
     headed by a matronly battleaxe called Queen Ethelbruda. She's often seen
     driving around the castle grounds on her Brudabanga - a kind of wooden horse
     and chariot combination with caterpillar tracks of wooden posts to drive it
     along instead of wheels. At Ethelbruda's side, or more likely quaking behind
     the throne is her lackluster husband King Woebegone. They have a sap of a son,
     Prince Idlebone and a fizzy-headed daughter Princess Tizzibel (Tizzy, for short).
     There's a befuddled Royal Sorceror called Mudlin, a cheesy jester called Jest
     A Minit, an inventor boffin called Cue-Ee-Dee and a bright young page called
     Albrite. Royal security is managed by an oaf called Elbow, who spends much
     of his time harassing an unfortunate subordinate, the lovable, luckless Osmosis.
     There's also Useless, a woad-encrusted Celtic warrior who's as hopeless as
     her name, and a lippy moping guard called Gippo. Last, but by no means least,
     is the oversize dinosaur Dippy. Hatched from an egg this Diplodocus quickly
     out-grew the castle and departed for the country, but he still returns from time
     to time to assist his Bygone friends...

     The Hasbeenes

     Besieging Cloppa Castle are Beosweyne and his army. Beosweyne is a growling,
     graveled leader who roars like a tiger but is as harmless as a pussycat. Looks
     a little bit like Zak Dingle from "Emmerdale", doesn't he? - Anyway, he's most
     commonly assisted by Hench, a gloomy sidekick with little hunger for battle and
     a thick lip of despair beneath his helmet. Hench, Beosweyne and the rest of the
     Hasbeene soldiers regularly fall foul of their own plots and schemes, which almost
     always backfire. And if the Bygones are enjoying a laugh or joke, it's almost always
     at the Hasbeenes expense...   

     Mary Turner on the Cloppa set     Ethel rides her Brudabanga...

     "Cloppa Castle" was brought to us by Mary Turner and John Read, veterans of
     Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation crew. Indeed John was there at the very
     beginning. In 1956 Gerry co-founded AP Films with Arthur Provis, Sylvia
     Thamm (later, Sylvia Anderson), Reg Hill and himself. He had previously been
     employed as special effects supervisor on films like "The Dam Busters". At AP
     John was director of photography, cameraman and engineer on Supercar,
     Stingray and Thunderbirds. Mary, meanwhile, was employed as puppetmaker,
     sculptor, and operator alongside Christine Glanville. She sculpted the beautiful
     heads for Stingray's Troy Tempest and Marina, and Thunderbirds' Lady Penelope
     whom she actually modelled on Sylvia Anderson. Mary and Christine often
     shared operational duties on the productions - it was very much a 'hands on'
     affair, working on an Anderson series. Mary helped develop the 'stringless
     puppet' techniques employed on the later series, and John contributed to
     the miniaturization of the voice boxes used on the puppets so that they could
     be fitted in the chest, rather than the head, and thus reduce the over-proportioned
     features of the marionettes. On Captain Scarlet, Mary was credited as Puppetry
     Co-ordinator, whilst John's role evolved into Associate Producer. It was only a
     matter of time before they stepped out on their own.

     And when they eventually did, Mary and John struck tv gold with their very
     first series, The Adventures of Rupert Bear. This beautiful - and in The Hound's
     eyes, definitive - tv adaptation brought the little bear from Nutwood, Raggety,
     Bill and all of his friends into glorious puppet life. An equally-successful
     adaptation of Mumfie the Elephant followed. "Cloppa Castle" was their third
     commission, and afterwards came The Munch Bunch, a tossed salad of
     delights starring a multitude of walking, talking fruit and vegetables.  

     "Cloppa Castle" was filmed in a converted church in Southwark Park Road,
     in London. At its peak it was the top-performing kids TV show in its
     lunchtime slot. And now we've a confession to make. "Cloppa Castle" is
     The Hound's most favourite ever television series. Beautiful puppets, brilliant
     banter, a marvellous theme tune and a fast pace that keeps it fresh and funny
     and bright throughout. Indeed, even now, thirty-plus years on from its first
     broadcast it remains a joy and a hoot to watch!

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     Be prepared to stay a while...

      Dialogue Co-ordinator Richard Dacre...                                 Puppeteer Sue Dacre...
      The Cloppa Files - 1        The Cloppa Files - 2
      Dialogue Coordinator              Puppeteer Sue Dacre
      Richard Dacre talks about       recalls those Bygone days
      his role on the production...     of the Cloppa shoot...

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    Broadcast info
    The series premiered on 11th January 1978, on ITV...

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   Cloppa Castle episodes

  Spring is Sprung
It's a Gift
The Bruda Banger
A Champion for Tizzibel
Caught in a Jam
A State of Emergency
Off Duty
Besieged Bothered & Bewildered
A Cold to Catch a Thief
No Laughing Matter
Red Herring Chase
The Good Ship Ethelbruda
Mudlin Muddles Through 
You're Fired Cue-ee-dee
Bees in their Bonnets
The Frog Prince Caper
White Elephant
Ups and Downs
The Celebration
Idelbone's Idleness Pays Off
It's the Real Thing
Sent to Coventry
A Cuckoo Clock
Sheik Charade
Time for a Change

The Blues
When You Gotta Grow, You Gotta Grow
Squatters Wrongs!
Water on the Brain
It's a Monster!
A Fatal Attack of the Lovee Doves
Folkbangas For All
Blow Your Own Trumpet
A Big Heart Beats in a Small Frame
To the Victor the Spoils
The Call of the Cloppa Clarion
A Chain is as Good as a Rest
The Crusade That Never Was
Go to Blazes!
The Pied Piper of Cloppa Castle
A Vulture for Culture
Operation Face-lift
The Friendly Enemy
Young at Heart
Taters in the Mould
Clothes Maketh the Man
Oil for One and One for Oil
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Low Treason
A Complete Washout!

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     Cloppa Castle on DVD

      UK DVD  Cloppa Castle - The Complete Series
                  Region 2 / Network / May 2005

      UK DVD  Cloppa Castle - Complete Series 1
                  Region 2 / Network / July 2004

      UK DVD  Cloppa Castle - Complete Series 2
                  Region 2 / Network / Jan 2005

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    series created by Mary Turner and John Read
    from ITC Entertainment


camera operator: 

Cloppa Castle

incidental music:


Mary Turner
John Rea
Anna Standon, John Kaned
Sue Dacre, Ann Brandon,
Judith Shutt, Trica Brummer
Joyce Wren, Chris Covington

Tricia Brummer
John Jelly
Bogus Machnik
Paul Marwaha
Cyril Brown, Clive Coker
David Holmes

Frank Weston, Patrick Campbell-Lyons
sung by Rainbow Cottage
Norman Warren

Chris Mutter, Richard Dacre
Judy Bennett
Charles Collingwood


     On the web

     Jedi's Paradise
     Jediman has pics of the actual puppets taken at a "Watch With Mother"
     kids tv exhibition held in Dudley in 1998, plus a fab little interview with
     Mary and John, an episode guide and lots of on-set photos to
     accompany their chat...

      index »    previous »   next »      

© Mary Turner and John Read/ ITC / F2012