Sunday, 31 July 2016

Nigel Hits Channel 4!

Recently, I spent a few weeks in the United States visiting my boyfriend. Whilst there, I received a private Facebook message from Jon Rist, the Rubber Balls cameraman/compositor/editor etc., to the effect that Channel 4 wanted to hire the Nigel Farage puppet head! To cut a long story short, they ended up buying it outright from me and using it as part of a mock statue which was pulled over, in the fashion of a deposed dictator's statue, on The Last Leg (Series 8 Episode 5) broadcast live on Friday 8 July 2016!

Not only that, but my name appears in the end credits!

Here are some screengrabs...







Aborted Projects 2: Assorted Maquettes

Although I've not made a full-size puppet since last year, I have made several maquettes as studies in miniature for projected puppets. Being studies, the 3D equivalent of sketches prior to finished drawings, they tend to be somewhat rough, with certain areas, especially the ears, generally being left unfinished. They are even sometimes quite asymmetrical, as I sculpt either side of an imaginary vertical line halfway across the face slightly differently to see how alternative approaches might work sculpturally.

The maquettes below depict Zac Goldsmith (I had a crack at Sadiq Khan but I wasn't happy with it and mashed it up), Jeremy Clarkson (bald, as the full-size puppet would have had a wig because of his frizzy hair), the Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, and former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne:




I even sculpted maquettes of Iain Duncan Smith and Richard Hammond (to go with Clarkson), but I was never that happy with them and ended up mashing them up before I could even be bothered photographing them.

Aborted Projects 1: Blunderbirds Are Go!

A couple of years ago, I came up with a concept for a series of sketches based on Thunderbirds, called Blunderbirds Are Go!, which would have involved a family of Boris Johnsons and their organisation International Finance Rescue. It was derived purely from a conceit involving the fact that in Thunderbirds, the heroic Tracy family's home was Tracy Island, a tropical paradise housing their secret base and their marvellous rescue vehicles and machines. At the time of my idea, Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, and was promoting his project for a new airport for the capital to be built on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary, which the press immediately dubbed Boris Island. A light-bulb moment suggested the idea of a family of Borises operating International Finance Rescue from Boris Island, their 'secret' base in the muddy Thames Estuary disguised as a grimy, depressingly naff and provincial looking airport...

Departing radically from the conventional Rubber Balls technique of life-size hand puppets filmed against greenscreen for compositing, I actually wanted to make marionettes and full-on miniature sets, which would have also given me the excuse to make ludicrous machines and vehicles indulging in absurd disaster scenarios (cue lots of mini-pyro vfx and things collapsing!). Of course, this was wildly ambitious, and never got off the ground, and with Boris now Foreign Secretary, the concept is completely obsolete...

However, I did get as far as sculpting the masters for the marionette Boris head, along with a Michael Gove head (Gove was to play Brains, hence his exaggerated cranium). Both are small, around three inches from chin to crown. The Gove head is somewhat damaged in the photos, and was never actually finished, hence the rougher look than the Boris head, which was pretty much complete and ready for mouldmaking. He was sculpted bald, as I intended to add hair to the completed cast rubber heads (all the Boris family were to have been cast from the same mould) using fine hair from a large doll bought cheaply from a charity shop. This Boris was sculpted after the large hand puppet Boris and is, in my opinion, a superior sculpture to the large version.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Hair Bear Bunch...

Also at long bleeding last, I finally got around to fitting hair to Boris. I decided to punch it - Jaysus...

Anyway, here it is...



And here he is before his trim...

Fuck me, it's Katie Hopkins!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Chips, meet Piss...

Things have been quiet in Rubber Balls Towers of late. We had planned a Christmas Sketch but my dear old dad died shortly before Christmas, which rather took the wind out of my sails. Quite frankly, I lost my mojo and felt no enthusiasm for doing anything much.

Also, doubts about the very basis of Rubber Balls had been setting in anyway, as I don't feel that people are really that interested in satirical sketch type humour - there are now so many outlets, such as topical comedy panel shows on TV, radio shows, and a torrent of stuff on the internet. I mean, how can one compete with, say, a snappy Photoshopped gag on Twitter or Facebook?

And then, just as I started getting back to work on another (related) project, ITV announced Newzoids, a new '...puppet show [which] promises a “biting look at the world of politics and celebrity”, nearly 20 years after the end of Spitting Image.' Thank you very fucking much, ITV, for pissing all over Rubber Balls's chips. That said, I do really hope that Newzoids is a massive hit as, with luck, that will stimulate interest in all things puppety...

Meanwhile, to feel like I'm getting somewhere, I've just finished painting the Benjamin Netanyahu puppet head - whether it gets used or not is another thing...

Dad would have loved it - he fucking hated Netanyahu...

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Nigel's Calypso!

For the first time ever, we went out on location with a puppet! And broke out into song! We spent an enjoyable afternoon freaking shoppers out, and making small children piss themselves laughing, on Walthamstow High Street as we filmed Nigel's Calypso!



Here we penetrate the veil concealing the magic of Rubber Balls...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Rogues' gallery...

You don't want to be in my workshop at night...


And you can see most of the buggers here: