Muffin the Mule

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Muffin the Mule puppet toy on display at the Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh. Diecast metal, Lesney Products, 1951

Muffin The Mule is a puppet character in British television programmes for children. The puppet had been made in 1933 for Hogarth Puppets. The original TV 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 BBC2 in 2005.[1]


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 to form part of a puppet circus for the Hogarth Puppet Theatre.[2][3] 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, Peregrine the penguin, Louise the Lamb, Oswald the Ostrich, Willie the Worm, Peter Pup the dog, Poppy the Parrot, Grace the Giraffe, Wally the Gog, Hubert the Hippo, Katy the Kangaroo, Kirri the Kiwi, Monty the Monkey, Morris and Doris the Field 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. Muffin also was made into one of the first ever licensed kiddie rides. A die-cast movable puppet was produced by Lesney Products, "the first toy to be marketed under licence as a result of a successful TV appearances."[4] 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".[5]


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 Muffin a donkey rather than a mule.


The rights to Muffin The Mule were bought by Maverick Entertainment Plc in 2003, and a new 25-part animated version of Muffin The Mule 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 and Voice Cast[edit]


UK Releases[edit]


Muffin The Mule was released on video between 2002 and 2004, owned by Big Fish Cartoons. Ordinarily, five stand-alone VHS releases were (and still are) available in the United Kingdom.


Muffin The Mule was released on DVD between 2005 and 2007, owned by Big Fish Cartoons. Ordinarily, three animated DVD releases were (and still are) available in the United Kingdom.


  1. ^ Radio Times 5 September 2005, and A Cartoon of Muffin started airing on Cbeebies. p77
  2. ^ Official Website
  3. ^ Muffin the Mule Collectors Club
  4. ^ Label on the display at the Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh
  5. ^ The Idiots Lantern, Dr Who Episode guide, BBC, Retrieved 10 February 2017

Further reading[edit]

  • Adrienne Hasler (2005) "Muffin the Mule" Jeremy Mills Publishing ISBN 1905217064

External links[edit]