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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

Going bananas with Billy Nibbles!

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Billy Nibbles            (1998)
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          puppet style: hand puppet
   creator/designer: Neil Sterenberg
                operator: Brian Herring

         appearances: co-presenter of
                               "The Animal Magic Show"
                               BBC Bristol tv series


A dapper bunny in a part-tuxedo, Billy Nibbles was the manic co-presenter of
    BBC Bristol's "The Animal Magic Show". The human host was the equally-manic
    Dominic Wood, who still presents regularly for BBC and CBBC. In 1998, he
    was proffered to us as a youthful illusionist and magician, with a leaning
    towards ridiculous costumes and exuberant presentation.

    The production itself was a twist on a familiar theme and title. Each week we'd
    see footage of animals working their natural magic in the wild, capturing prey,
    avoiding enemies, dining, tracking, etc. "Dom" and his puppet assistant would
    then perform "crazy" tricks and illusions following the theme of the footage,
    together with a smattering of theatrical skits and pratfalls.

   The Animal Magic Show    Dom & Billy - a  'magical' double-act

    Billy regularly had the upper hand over his "wacky" human friend. He'd subvert
    Dominic's tricks, and undermine his daft routines - for which many viewers were
    eternally grateful. But alas, he never made "Dom" disappear from our televisions.
    Indeed, Dominic has progressed to full-blooded CBBC stardom with his human
    presenter pal Dick in "Da Bungalow"and beyond . Billy Nibbles did disappear
    though, departing when the series came to the end of its run.

    Billy was constructed by Neil Sterenberg, who's put together numerous famous
    puppet characters over the years. And that rabbit was operated by Brian Herring,
    a busy chap who has brought characters to life in "The Hoobs", "Mopatop's Shop",
    "Construction Site", "Muppet Treasure Island" and more.

    The series title is, of course, a twist on "Animal Magic" the long-running BBC
    Bristol production from tea-times past featuring the unforgettable Zookeeper
    Johnny Morris.

    Billy follows in the footsteps of the likes of Ali Cat, who was doing much the
    same thing back in the 1970s...


     On the web

     Sterenberg Puppets

     Neil Sterenburg has put together lots of famous puppets over the years...


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© BBC Bristol / F2012