Fraggle Rock, 1983

From the creator of Sesame Street and the Muppet Show came Fraggle Rock.  Described by Jim Henson as “a high-energy, raucous musical romp. It’s a lot of silliness. It’s wonderful” Fraggle Rock was aimed at a Family audience, hence it’s highly prized saturday teatime slot.

From the start the show was produced for an international audience, to this end it was a collaboration of Henson International Television (HIT Entertainment from 1989), the international arm of Jim Henson Productions and of Deluxe Digital Studios. The co-production brought together British regional ITV franchise-holder Television South (TVS), CBC Television, United States pay-television service Home Box Office and Henson Associates (later Jim Henson Productions).

Although filming took place on a Toronto sound-stage (and later at Elstree Studios, London), the human segments were adapted and filmed to suit the audience in the country of broadcast.  Here in the UK inserts were filmed at the TVS Television Theatre in Gillingham, Kent and presented Fraggle Rock as a rocky sea-island with a lighthouse.

The US version features an inventor named Doc who lives with his dog Sprocket.  for the UK audiences Fraggle Rock is presented as a rocky sea island with a lighthouse.  The lighthouse keeper is The Captain (played by Fulton Mackay), a retired sailor who lives with his faithful dog Sprocket. In the third season following the death of Fulton Mackay, the role was filled by John Gordon Sinclair as P.K. (the Captain’s nephew) in the fourth season Simon O’Brien stepped in as B.J. (the Captain’s son).

The series has appeared in over ten countries and languages.

Like so many old shows it is thought that up to thirty five of these British wraparounds are now missing, believed wiped.

During it’s original run between 1983 and 1987 Fraggle Rock notched up 96 episodes over a 5 series run.

Summary

Doc (The Captain, UK) and his dog Sprocket have a hole in their wall, behind which live little furry creatures known as Fraggles in a place called Fraggle Rock.  Also living there are the Doozers (who are knee-high to a Fraggle) and the Gorgs (who are giants that think they rule the Rock).

Under the guidance of the all-knowing Trash Heap (Marjorie), one gang of Fraggles (Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, and Red) learn about each other and their neighbours, eventually befriending the Doozers, the Gorgs and even Doc and Sprocket.

Meanwhile, Gobo’s Uncle Matt explores Outer Space (our world) and sends postcards to his nephew about the Silly Creatures (that’s us).

Complicated but hugely enjoyable in it’s day.

Clips

 

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Cast (UK)

Fulton Mackay – The Captain (series 1 and 2)
John Gordon Sinclair – P.K. (series 3)
Simon O’Brien – B.J. (series 4 and 5)

Muppet Performers

Jerry Nelson
Dave Goelz
Steve Whitmire
Kathryn Mullen
Karen Prell
Richard Hunt
Jim Henson

Details

Channel: ITV (UK)
Created By: Jim Henson
Written By:
Jerry Juhl (head writer)
Carol Bolt
David Brandes
Jim Henson
Susan Juhl
Laura Phillips
Bob Sandler
Jocelyn Stevenson
Sugith Varughese
David Young
Excecutive Producer: Jim Henson
Original Transmission Dates: January 10th, 1983 – March 30th, 1987

Official Website

DVD Releases

Various collections of Fraggle Rock are floating round Amazon, remember that many of the UK version are missing and when buying US versions make sure they are region 2

Rocking Back!

In April 2020 Apple TV began a series of live-action shorts as a spin off from the original series.  Following the success a full re-boot of the original series was ordered.  The series will consist of brand new full length Fraggle Rock episodes.  Filming began in early 2021 but at the time of this post no official release date was available.

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