UK version

Mike Quinn

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International Fraggle "can-o'worms"....

Well it's all quite complicated but for the record... here goes:

Part of the genius of Fraggle Rock was to allow other countries to create their own co-production, which meant the human and Sprocket " wraparounds" and localised Traveling Matt segments. Now Fraggles was a very expensive show to produce and most countries could not afford to create something like this from scratch and most likely would not have all the resources that the Henson company had. However, some could at least afford the Sprocket and Matt parts and in foreign language countries dub or loop the rest of the puppets in the show quite easily. This way, most foreign viewers had no idea it was not entirely created in their respective country. So it made the broadcasters look really good for one thing without the expense of making an entire show. Another important element was that more revenue could be generated from "outer space" sales of the show that otherwise would not be sold there. This could then be put back into the show and other Henson productions. Originally there were to be coproductions in Saudi Arabia and Japan! Sadly these never quite happened for one reason and another.

At some point, I will try to chronicle the events of Fraggle coproductions more thoroughly on my web site as I have many pictures and videos documenting much of this. I think it would be of interest to fans. We did a lot of good hard work that was rarely acknowledged, so this might help to set the record straight.

Now.... as far as I can tell, the UK was the only coproduction to take the series through to the end. France and Germany seemed to "peter out" before episode 96 or so. The first season of UK Fraggles had Fulton McKay as the lighthouse keeper, Dave Barclay as Sprocket and Uncle Matt, myself as his assistant for those and Louise Gold as Gobo. The second season changed slightly. I think Louise was busy on stage and I took over doing Gobo and puppet rigging and repairs. Kaefan Shaw took over assisting Dave with Sprocket. This may have been when I began doing Uncle Matt. We also had Director number 2 with a different director and writer again for the Uncle Matt spots. Series 3 I recall had replaced Fulton McKay with John Gordon Sinclair as the new lighthouse keeper. We also had Director number 3. I think by this time, Geoff Felix was assisting me on the Uncle Matt shoots. Series 4 had actor number 3 as yet another new lighthouse keeper. I was working on Mother Goose or something and just came in to do the last few episodes, along with some extra puppeteers for all the Fraggles entering into the outside world in the lighthouse. I believe Geoff Felix became Gobo and Sprocket assistant but I would have to double check that.

Whenever I did Gobo, I would put down a voice as a guide track for Jerry to overdub later. The same for Uncle Matt with Dave Goelz. For Matt I began to exagerate the speech patterns and musicality of his voice in his postcard readings. There is a possibility that Dave Goelz started to take some of that on board in his later Matts but he would need to confirm that. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun doing those.

Actually, Dave Goelz did go to Australia and New Zealand for Uncle Matt and it was there he discovered Ron Muek, who assisted him and even did some Matts when Dave broke his arm or wrist or something like that. Ron then came over to England to perform Ludo on Labyrinth and numerous other successes.

Meanwhile, Dave Barclay was busy dubbing Sprocket (I'm assuming the Canadian versions) for Spain and many other countries.

Now let's look at Germany....

Steve Whitmire did Sprocket for the first 12 shows in Munich, Germany. The German wraparounds actually copied Doc's set and script word for word (except in German of course) whereas the UK and French parts were totally different. The German puppeteers were Ziggy and Eva (spellings may be wrong), a husband and wife team. He did some Gobo and Matt's whilst she assisted with Sprocket. After then, Dave Barclay took over doing Sprocket there. At some point during the second season, Dave had to fly to London to appear as Sprocket with Fulton Mckay at the Royal Command Variety Performance, an annual televised variety show performed in front of the Queen. So I stepped in and took over doing Sprocket for some shows, maybe 6 or more? Dave Barclay later returned for a spell I believe.
Somewhere towards the end, Loise Gold actually did a handful of Sprockets there too, due to me pulling out of France and Dave Barclay being put back in there (more on that next).

And finally.... France....

I belive Richard Hunt went over to help audition and train local puppeteers. They ended up hiring a couple with Nancy (an Amican living in France as Sprocket's assistant and a guy whose name escapes me at this hour doing Gobo and Matt. Dave Barlay was Sprocket (or Croquette, as he was acttually called). After a vary short time I was brought in to replace the French Gobo and Matt puppeteer. Geoff Felix would assist me on the Matt shoots and help rig the puppets. I must have done a couple of seasons there as Sprocket with Geoff doing Gobo and Nancy assisting me on Sprocket. Well, the director Patrick Villechaise (the brother of Herve Villechase who played Tattoo on Fantasy Island and was also Oscar the Grouch's legs whenever he would pick up his can and go running off), er.. took a disliking to myself, Geoff and all things British. Well problems just escalated and after being threatened with vilolence whilst shooting some Uncle Matts in France with him, I quit and left them without a Sprocket puppeteer for the upcoming studio shoot (well I was young and had no British producer to defend me.. he heee.. it would be a very different story had it happened now). Dave was shooting Sprocket in Germany at the time. My suggestion was rather than disrupt the German shoot, keep Dave there and use someone else for the French Sprocket. Well I guess the UK production felt it safer to put someone in there who already knew the situation, so they pulled Dave out of Germany and put Louise in there instead. I don't think they were too pleased about being changed up like that and it's not something I wanted to happen. Now, they could have put me back into Germany but.... go figure eh?

So that's how it was. Lots of coproductions happening at the same time. Often it meant doing the same episode three times in three differenty languages. We had about three sets of puppets and I used to refurbish them inbetween shoots.

They were a great experience and got me traveling to Europe as a teeneger. The per dium was great.... wonderful food and many fun memories, such as haunting the writer/producer's hotel room on location and getting it all on tape and many many more....

Bug me enough and I'll put pictures and video up on my site of some of it...

Hope that answer's some of your questions!


Later,

Mike
 

luvtosr

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Wow! Thank you that was really interesting.

Oh, and, bug, bug, bug, bug, bug, bug...Is that enough or shall I continue?
 

Beauregard

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Wow! That's too amazing! Uncle Matt was always my favorite fraggle, and you did some of his scenes! Two awesome!!!
 

muppet_dk

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Nice story Mike.

Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please Please put pictures and video up on your site :smile:
 

Skekayuk

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Mike Quinn said:
Well it's all quite complicated but for the record... here goes:

slightly. I think Louise was busy on stage and I took over doing Gobo and puppet rigging and repairs. Kaefan Shaw took over assisting Dave with And finally.... France....

safer to put someone in there who already knew the situation, so they pulled Dave out of Germany and put Louise in there instead. I don't think they were
Mike
Thanks for sharing about this. It's truly fascinating, to some of us.

I had no idea that Ms Gold had ever puppeteered Sprocket or that she'd been involved with a bit of the French one. I wonder when (roughly) that was. I also wonder when the second series of the British FR was ?

Incidentally, for those who don't know, I think Kaefan Shaw has sometimes been credited as Kevin Bradshaw (at least on the early episodes of Spitting Image).

Thanks
Emma
 

MJTaylor

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Actually, Dave Goelz did go to Australia and New Zealand for Uncle Matt and it was there he discovered Ron Muek, who assisted him and even did some Matts when Dave broke his arm or wrist or something like that. Ron then came over to England to perform Ludo on Labyrinth and numerous other successes.
Oh that's right! I do remember seeing one show where the Travelling Matt segment was shot in Australia. In this, Travelling Matt came across some "silly creatures" putting tomato sauce on their meat pies, or to use Matt's words, "Paint[ing] their food red". Matt then panicked when he got some tomato sauce on his nose, because he was sure it would never come off!
At the end of the show, we were told the segment was made by Puppetstuff! Another show produced by Puppetstuff! was Shirl's Neighbourhood which also starred Ron Muek.
 
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