Gordon Murray, creator and puppeteer of the popular BBC children’s series Trumpton, has died at the age of 95.
His son-in-law, William Mollett, confirmed the news in a statement to the BBC.
The Trumptonshire Trilogy – Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley – were shown weekly by the corporation from 1966 for 20 years.
The programmes were later repeated by Channel 4 and then Nickelodeon Junior.
Camberwick Green, which was made using stop-motion animation, was the first children’s show to be aired in colour on the BBC in 1966.
Murray was born in London on 3 May 1921 – the youngest of four children.
He attended Emanuel School, where he studied Classics – but later gave up Latin and Greek, after which he spent most of his time in the art and drama departments.
Mr Mollett told the BBC that Murray enjoyed going to the Victoria Palace Theatre with his father as a child to see variety shows – and particularly liked the marionettes.
Murray was nine years old when his father died in 1930.
After leaving school, he started working as a journalist and joined the Territorial Army. In 1939 he was enlisted in the London Scottish Regiment.
Having been commissioned into the Royal Corps of Signals, Murray took part in the Normandy landings as a platoon commander, landing on Gold Beach.
After the war, he worked as an actor in repertory theatre, and appeared in Shakespeare plays and Peter Pan – where he met his wife, ballet dancer Enid Martin.
In the 1950s, Murray established a puppet company touring theatres in the UK, when he was scouted by BBC producer Freda Lingstrom.
He went on to produce several successful marionette shows for children’s television including Hans Christian Anderson’s The Nightingale and 33 episodes of The Rubovia Legends.
His first television credit was in 1954 as a puppeteer on Bengo – a children’s programme about the adventures of a boxer puppy.
Murray had the opportunity to become the BBC’s head of children’s programmes, but chose instead to form his own production company – where he created the Trumptonshire trilogy.
Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley were created using stop motion animation and actual 3D scaled down models.
The characters were eight inches tall, with heads made out of ping-pong balls and clothes out of foam latex.
There were 39 short episodes across the trilogy – all of which were first broadcast on BBC One, airing before the midday news.
The programmes were digitally restored and re-released in 2011, after the original footage was found in the family’s attic and in the BBC archives.
In recent years he lived with his family near Stamford and is survived by his daughters Emma and Rose and his four grandchildren.
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