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 The Cloppa Files #2

     Cloppa Castle credits   Cloppa Castle logo

Puppeteer Sue Dacre helps us recall
    the Cloppa Castle shoot...

    Sue Dacre is a professional puppeteer with a wealth of tv, film and theatre
    credits on her CV. Highlights include - deep breathe - 'Little Shop Of Horrors',
    'Labyrinth', 'The Witches', 'The Adventures Of Pinocchio',
'Return To Oz', 'Lost
    In Space', 'Muppet Christmas Carol', 'Muppet Treasure Island' and more, much
    more besides. Back in 1975 Sue worked for Mary Turner and John Read on
    'The Adventures Of Mumfie'. She went on to work on all 4 series of 'Cloppa Castle'
    alongside Judy Shutt, Ann Brandon, Joyce Wren, and Chris Covington...

      Sue Dacre preps Queen Ethel, ready for the shoot...  

    The puppets on 'Cloppa Castle' were a mixture of marionettes and under-floor
    conceptions - the under-floor or off-camera techniques being first devised by Mary
    Turner and John Read during their Supermarionation days (see main page).
    Judy Shutt taught Sue and the others how to construct the puppets and dress
    them in their splendid costumes, which were made by 'Tricia Brummer. Sue says
    there was no star pecking order amongst the operators. It was very much a case
    of all hands on deck, with the puppeteers operating whichever characters
    were required for a particular scene - and sometimes having to draft in other
    technicians, as the photos on this page show. Again, this was in keeping
    with mary and John's work during their Anderson days. Sue, though harboured
    a soft-spot of sorts for the the sorceror, Mudlin...

    Sue Dacre adjusts the Dippy body suit...  

    The puppets themselves were around 2 foot high, with the notable exception of
    Princess Tizzy's pet dinosaur, Dippy. This over-size creation was originally
    conceived as a large head puppet and foot puppet, combined to make one
    big beastie on screen. But this didn't cover all bases satisfactorily, so a full-
    blown body suit was also developed. That's Sue working on the body suit
    above - pity the poor operator who had to wear it, eh?

    The Cloppa Castle marionettes were operated from a rostrum positioned
    over the sets. Mary's one eternal frustration was with those darned marionette
    strings forever tangling and reflecting at the worst moment. As Dialogue
    Co-ordinator Richard Dacre recalls:

         '...Many a time shooting was held up when star-struck strings
         tried to have a moment of glory before being sprayed
         with anti-glare!...'

   You can see the rostrum and the operators at work in these splendid
   photos, kindly supplied by Sue and Richard:

    Onset during filming of Cloppa Castle...

Director Mary Turner (seated) and
the rostrum puppeteers, Joyce Wren,
Sue Dacre and Chris Covington, wait
for Bogus Machnik to finish prepping
the next 'Cloppa Castle' shot...

The puppeteers on the Cloppa rostrum....
       'All hands on deck!' - working on the
       rostrum here are Sue Dacre, Chris
       Covington, John Jelly (sets), Joyce
       Wren, Bogus Machnik (Jelly's Asst.),
       and Ann Brandon....

              a rare photo of John Read...
Now here's a very rare
photo of Cloppa's producer
and cameraman John Read
- a rather camera-shy
fellow, apparently...
Woebegone...    Dippy the dinosaur...
Here's the Woebegone puppet,
relaxing between takes. And
those big, doe eyes can only
belong to Dippy!

© Mary Turner / John Read  / F2000-2004