Pulling the strings

Mummy Woodentop

Mummy Woodentop

I stood inside the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry staring at my childhood. A room full of familiar faces, most of which were made out of wood or cloth or plastic, stared back at me.

In the car on the way there I’d expressed a hope in seeing one of the Woodentops. I wasn’t let down. Mummy Woodentop, the actual Mummy Woodentop.

I could’t figure out why she looked different. She didn’t quite match my memory of her. Of course, I only ever saw her in black and white and here she was now all wooden in a coloured stripy dress.

Next to her was the real Looby Lou from Andy Pandy. Their relationship was never fully explained in the TV show, but they were obviously close friends and shared the same toy box.

These exhibits are all part of The Story of Children’s Television 1946 to Today which runs at The Herbert until September.

Little Ted and Humpty

Little Ted and Humpty

Here’s another one, Humpty from Play School. The actual one (apparently there were a number used and this is one of those originals).

Next to him is Little Ted. This one was used during rehearsals with the real Little Ted being brought out just for the show.

Play School was one of those programmes that no one ever admitted to watching at the time, but everyone has a memory of whether it be one of the toys or one of the windows.

Muffin the Mule

Muffin the Mule

One of the first faces of Children’s TV was Muffin the Mule. He was before my time, but is undoubtedly the real star of the exhibition.

Again this is the original puppet and, again, the bright colours were something youngsters in the 50s wouldn’t have seen.

The strings however were highly visible but no one seemed to bother. Much the same with other string puppets like Thunderbirds, Pinky and Perky, Bill and Ben and, of course my favourite, the Woodentops.

I seem to remember Spotty dog being rather naughty.

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