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We Want Muffin the Mule!
Muffin The Mule with his sidekick Annette Mills
Muffin the Mule first trotted on to our screens in 1946, although he was already 12 years old by that time. He had been made by a famous creator of Punch and Judy puppets, Fred Tickner, during the 1930's when the Hogarth Puppets were already involved in the experimental medium of television. Among the special theme presentations planned by the Hogarths was a circus sequence, in which a mule puppet was required. This puppet needed an appearance that would help develop a comedy emphasis, this probably being the reason for its head being made so especially large. Muffin, it will be recalled, used his head a great deal in "conversations" with Annette Mills.
So, Muffin - then unnamed - was added to the Hogarth puppets in November 1934, the charge for the job being 25 shillings. The puppet was used to good effect but as Jan Bussell and Ann Hogarth moved on to more experimental and dramatic puppetry, Muffin was carefully stored, awaiting re-discovery and naming by Annette Mills, sister of actor John Mills. In 1946, she included the wooden mule in an edition of 'For the Children'.
Muffin went from strength to strength, clumping around legs-a-kimbo on the piano top with Annette playing the music and Ann Hogarth standing on the piano to operate him from behind a partition. Further sidekicks emerged as the shows went on, including a bossy penguin called Mr. Peregrine Esquire; a rather shy Louise the Lamb; Oswald the Ostrich (a slightly dim-witted bird inclined to "gape"); Willie the Worm; plus a genial minstrel puppet called Wally the Gog. There were many others including Peter the Pup; Poppy the Parrot; Grace the Giraffe; Hubert the Hippo; Katy the Kangaroo; Kirri the Kiwi; Monty the Monkey; Maurice and Doris the mice; Zebbie the Zebra; Sally the Sea-lion and Prudence and Primrose Kitten who were later rewarded with their own spin-off shows.
Muffins final TV appearance with Annette Mills came in 1955 just days before she died aged 61.
Peregrine the Penguin
Oswald, Muffin, Wally the Gog and Peregrine
Muffin was the first star, in Britain at least, entirely created by television. By 1950 there were many merchandise spin-offs from the character, including gramophone records, song and story books (many illustrated by Mills' daughter Molly Blake) and comic strips, whilst Muffin crossed the Atlantic in the form of films made for American television. Some children were lucky enough to receive Muffin bedroom slippers for their Birthday or Christmas.
TV Comic featured Muffin on it's front cover for its first issue in November 1951. Inside it featured other favourite characters from BBC Children's TV.
This mint and boxed metal Moko Muffin Junior puppet recently came up for sale at a Christies auction.
The above card game featured Muffin the Mule and friends in the 1950s
Click the book cover above for the words to some Muffin songs
Mule has returned to television in animated form.
In 2003, Maverick Entertainment acquired the intellectual property rights to Muffin the Mule and has now brought him out of retirement. A brand new TV adventure beckoned for Muffin the Mule in September 2005 as he made an eagerly awaited return to the BBC, his first TV home. Maverick Entertainment was commissioned to produce an initial 26 x 10 minute episodes of 2D animation and invested 2 million pounds into Muffins TV makeover. Aimed at pre-schoolers, Muffin is presented as a fun loving problem solver and is joined in Muffinham by nine friends, including Peregrine the Penguin, Louise the Lamb and Oswald the Ostrich who were all original puppet characters in the 1940s TV show. The charming, humorous and vibrant production remains faithful to the characteristics of the original and will undoubtedly appeal to all generations. more....
Anniversary DVD release
This 60th anniversary DVD is a delightful and comprehensive collection for any Muffin the Mule fan and features all the original Muffin the Mule episodes with Annette Mills, as seen on the BBC programme Children's Hour between 1946-1955.
This book is the first accurate and comprehensive record of the history of Muffin the Mule.
It includes original advertising as source references plus previously unpublished photographs, anecdotes and original documentation for the most popular die cast toy, the Moko Muffin Junior.
The book was written with the support of Derek McNally, owner and copyright holder of Muffin the Mule.
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