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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

Muffin the Mule

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 Muffin the Mule
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    creators: Ann Hogarth, Annette Mills
    puppets: marionettes
by Hogarth Puppets

                        FOR THE CHILDREN
                        1946-1952 / BBC

                        MUFFIN THE MULE
                        1952 - 1955
BBC / 1956 - 1957 ITV


 "Here comes Muffin, Muffin the Mule,
     Dear old Muffin, playing the fool..."

    Muffin the Mule was one of Britain's very first tv stars. He was a performing
    marionette, "discovered" by Annette Mills and Ann Hogarth in 1946. Mills was
    the older sister of actor John Mills
. She played songs on her piano, and told
    stories, whilst Ann brought Muffin to life on top of her musical stage in "For the
    Children", which was broadcast live by the BBC each week from Alexandra
    Palace, until 1952. That's when the show was renamed "Muffin the Mule" and
    editions were filmed for weekly broadcast, and repeated, and repeated. It's a
    popular misconception that Muffin was a "Watch With Mother" star. But although
    he was on screen at the same time as those shows, he was broadcast and
    billed separately, at teatime on a Sunday, until Annette's untimely death
    in 1955. Anne Hogarth then took her hoss over to ITV, where he clippety
    clopped for two more years, until 1957...

    Muffin wasn't a solo star, of course. He initially used to perform alongside
    Crumpet the Clown, but alas, the poor fellow didn't quite fit in to proceedings
    and he was dropped to be replaced by a growing collection of animal costars.
    Thus we had Poppy the Parrot and Sally the Seal, Peregrine the Penguin,
    Katy the Kangaroo, Oswald the Ostrich, Louise the Lamb and more.

    Muffin was originally constructed by puppet designer Fred Tickner, and the
    circus mule was part of a collection of marionettes owned and operated by
    Ann Hogarth and her puppeteer husband Jan Bussell. Indeed, Ann Hogarth's
    daughter, the late Sally McNally, recalled a puppet mule kicking around the
    Hogarth collection as early as 1933 (see: the Collector's Club). Each episode,
    Muffin would clop and clatter atop Mills' piano, accompanying the Muffin song,
    before we were lead into a story starring the mule and his pals. Mills wrote
    the songs, and Hogarth the scripts for her puppets. And that was that.
    No extra jiggery-pokery. No whizz-bang effects.

    Looking back from today's giddy world of computer generated eye candy, and
    corporate branding, it's difficult to see how such a simplistic creation could
    have spawned any success at all. But Muffin proved to be something of
    a fifties phenomenon, spawning a wealth of associated licensed products
    and apparel, toys and books, and regular appearances in "TV Comic". This
    hoss was a star, all right. And it's a measure of his success to find that he's
    still with us today, 60 years on, honoured by his own fan and collector's
    club. And now he's back on our screens, in a new-fangled animated series,
    in which he looks younger than ever!...


     See also

     Muffin the Mule (animated)  


     In the news

     The Hound: August 2005   
     Old mule, new tricks...

     The Hound: April 2003
     Animated Muffin announced...


     Original Muffin on DVD

     UK DVD Muffin the Mule: limited edition  

                Region 2 / anniversary disc / Maverick Ent. / October 2005


     UK DVD Muffin The Mule
                Region 2 / regular edition / Maverick Ent. / September 2005


     Created and written by
     Annette Mills and Ann Hogarth

    Presented by Annette Mills

    director:     Jan Bussell
    songs:        Annette Mills
    puppeteer:  Ann Hogarth


      On the web

      A neat page from Whirligig-tv with pictures, audio WAV, and more...

      Muffin the Mule Collector's Club
      Details of the club and its activities, historical info and more...

      The BFI's nifty
little history...

      index »    previous »   next »

© Sally McNally Holdings Ltd / F2006