Muffin the Mule

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Muffin the Mule is a puppet character in British television programmes for children. The original programmes featuring the character were presented by Annette Mills, sister of John Mills, and broadcast live by the BBC from their studios at Alexandra Palace from 1946 to 1952. Mills and the puppet continued with programmes that were broadcast until 1955, when Mills died. The series then transferred to ITV in 1956 and 1957. A modern animated version of Muffin appeared on the BBC in 2005.

The original mule puppet was created in 1933 by Punch and Judy puppet maker Fred Tickner for husband-and-wife puppeteers Jan Bussell (1909-1984) and Ann Hogarth (1910–1993) to form part of a puppet circus for the Hogarth Puppet Theatre. The act was soon put away, and the puppet was not taken out again until 1946, when Bussell and Hogarth were working with presenter Annette Mills. She named the puppet mule "Muffin", and it first appeared on television in an edition of For The Children broadcast on 20 October 1946.

The character proved popular, and ran on BBC television until 1955. Typically, Muffin danced on top of a piano as Mills played it. Muffin the Mule was supported by a host of other puppet characters who appeared occasionally, such as Crumpet the Clown, Mr. Peregrine Esquire the penguin, Louise the Lamb, Oswald the Ostrich, Willie the Worm, Peter the Pup, Poppy the Parrot, Grace the Giraffe, Wally the Gog, 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. A separate series of 15 minute episodes, "Muffin the Mule", was broadcast from 1952, with his signature tune "We want Muffin". Muffin became a television star, and a wide range of spin-off merchandise was made using the Muffin character, including books, records, games and toys. The BBC decided to discontinue the show in 1955 after Annette Mills' death.

In the early 1950s a Fleetway weekly magazine, Woman's Illustrated, featured on its children's page (Gnomes Club) stories about Muffin the Mule and/or his friends. Some were written by Annette Mills and illustrated by Molly Blake, Annette's daughter, such as "Muffin meets the Rear Light" in 1953; others did not state who the illustrator was, such as in 1953 "Muffin's Good Deed" by Annette Mills, and many stories were written and illustrated only by Molly Blake such as "Willie Disappears" (a Muffin story) on 20 August 1955.

Bussell and Hogarth, and later their daughter Sally McNally (1936–2004), continued to use Muffin in their own shows. Surviving original episodes are available on DVD. Archive footage of the original series was shown on a television set in the 2006 Doctor Who story "The Idiot's Lantern".

A book containing some of the stories was published in the Soviet Union in 1958. At least three cartoons based upon it were made in 1974 and 1975. These cartoons and the book make him a donkey rather than a mule.

The rights to Muffin were bought by Maverick Entertainment Plc in 2003, and a new 26-part animated version of Muffin was shown on BBC TV in September 2005. The new series was also translated into Welsh as "Myffin y Mul" and broadcast on S4C.

Characters[edit]

  • Muffin the Mule (main character)
  • Crumpet the Clown
  • Mr Peregrine Esquire the Penguin
  • Louise the Lamb
  • Oswald the Ostrich
  • Willie the Worm
  • Peter the Pup
  • Poppy the Parrot
  • Grace the Giraffe
  • Wally the Gog
  • Hubert the Hippo
  • Katy the Kangaroo
  • Kirri the Kiwi
  • Monty the Monkey
  • Morris the Mouse
  • Doris the Mouse
  • Zebbie the Zebra
  • Sally the Sea-Lion
  • Prudence the Kitten
  • Primrose the Kitten

Episodes[edit]

  • Wish Upon A Star
  • The Party
  • Muffin's Day Off
  • No Place Like Home
  • Peregine Helps Out
  • Moving House
  • Whodunnit
  • Oswald's Garden Party
  • Oswald's Big Egg
  • Muffin's Photo Shoot
  • Muffin's Mules United
  • Apple Pie Order
  • Muffin's Harvest Home
  • If The Cap Fits
  • Louise Loses Her Top
  • Creepy Crawly
  • Magnetic Muffin
  • Jurassic Farce
  • Oswald's Sandpit
  • Grow Up, Peter Pup
  • Penguin of the Year
  • Don't Gape, Oswald
  • Make My Day
  • Crossed Wires
  • Paint Your Wagon

External links[edit]