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Joy Laurey

Puppet Maker and Puppeteer

Joy Laurey
Joy with Mr Turnip

Joy Laurey was born the great grand daughter of the famous Drury Lane clown Sam Laurey.
She started her professional career with E.N.S.A. during the Second World War with her sister and mother making up the Laurey Puppet Company. They entertained  troops with puppet shows up and down the country in a wide variety of locations from Balloon sites on the mainland, to H.M.S. Bulldog at the time of the official announcement that it had liberated Guernsey.

At the end of the war, Joy continued entertaining with puppets, although concentrating the focus on children's entertainment, performing regularly at such venues as the Lord Mayor's Children's Party held at the Mansion House London, appearing with the Laurey Puppet Company regularly for summer  seasons at seaside resorts, and representing Britain in puppet festivals in countries such as Rumania.

During the early 50's Joy Laurey was offered an opportunity to make a puppet character for a one-off television show called "Whirligig".  She made a puppet based on a vegetable, and it was  named "Mr Turnip".  The pilot show proved so successful that it went on to run for over 6 years and Mr Turnip was one of the very first television puppets ever to become a celebrity in his own right.  Mr Turnip was so popular in his day that there was great demand for Mr Turnip toys, dolls, games and even toiletries such as Mr Turnip soap.  Cardboard cut outs were printed on the back of cereal boxes and even fleecy material was printed with Mr Turnip on it for  making children's pyjamas. The programme "Whirligig" was the first "magazine" type children's  programme ever to be produced  by the B.B.C. and featured appearances from many famous names such as: Humphrey Lestocq, Steve Race, Peter Butterworth, Francis Coudrill with his puppet "Hank", and Rolf Harris.

After the success of Mr Turnip and "Whirligig" Joy Laurey was commissioned to make a puppet character called Twizzle for A.P. films produced by Gerry Anderson. Joy not only made all the puppet characters for the 52 films that were produced, but operated them with the assistance of Murray Clark.  "The Adventures of Twizzle"  films were shown on I.T.V. during the late 50's and early 60's, and also appeared in childrens annuals as did Mr Turnip and his friends.
After the Twizzle films, Joy went on to produce puppets for a film at Elstree Studios called "
Britannia Mews".
She also made guest appearances on the "
What's My Line?" panel game, "Pebble Mill" and "Womans Hour".

About the Puppets

All the  Whirligig television programmes starring  Mr Turnip were broadcast live, so the Mr Turnip puppet had more strings than a conventional puppet  in order to facilitate a wider range of movements including eye movements etc.  The controls were, as Joy would call them, an aeroplane  hand control, meaning that the control for the puppet looked very much like a aeroplane shape, the bar that went across the main handle was detachable and connected to Mr Turnip's arms and hands enabling a wide range of movements, and the shorter bar at the end of the control worked Mr Turnips legs and feet.

There were many other puppets characters that featured in the Mr Turnip Annuals that were made by Joy Laurey These included; Colonel Beetroot, Sarah Swede, and The Carrot twins.  Unfortunately these puppets are no longer in  existence.

There were two Twizzle puppets, one for the main shots walking about, sitting down etc and the other Twizzle puppet was the one with the extendable arms and legs, that was used for the action shots.  The method for making the arms and legs extend was based on curtain rings in the puppet's arms and legs which when pulled made the limbs extend.

The above information and photographs supplied by Joy's daughter, Julie

Joy Laurey died on 2nd June 2014 aged 90 years.

The Joy Laurey Archive

Much more here about the puppet and it's creator

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If you have any comments or further information of interest, please e-mail mr-turnip@whirligig-tv.co.uk