Overview

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The Bumblies
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more The following four lots are from the collection of the late Michael Bentine CBE, actor, writer, presenter and original member of the Goons.
The Bumblies

Details
The Bumblies
An original character puppet, thought to be a prototype for Bumblie Two with head and hands of moulded rubber, and conical composition body, both body and head supported inside by steel and wood frame, the head with plastic swivelling eyes and slit flexible string-operated mouth, fixed to a brass rod and universal joint mechanism which controls its rotating movement, the body containing bowden cables which, when operated, control the movement of the hands and an item of head gear [now missing], the puppet dressed in a claret coloured quilted smoking jacket trimmed in gilt braid, glue residue marks to head suggest the puppet originally wore a hat, and had a beard, [both now missing], puppet -- 14½in. (37cm.) high, 26in. (66cm.) circumference
Literature
BENTINE, Michael The Reluctant Jester London: Corgi Books, 1995, p.322
LEWISOHN, Mark The Bumblies in The BBC Guide To Comedy www.bbc.co.uk
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

It seems probable that this puppet represents a prototype for one of The Bumblies - a comedy puppet series for children devised, designed, written and presented by Michael Bentine. This puppet, originally labelled 'Bumbly Two', bears only a facial resemblance to the three friendly, egg-shaped aliens from planet Bumble, known as One, Two and Three ...gravity-defying chaps who slept on the ceiling... in Bentine's first TV success in 1954. Bentine described the Bumblies as ...cheerful ambassadors from the Planet Bumble who landed in their flying saucer in the garden of an absent-minded professor of astronomy [played by Bentine], ..with the express purpose of getting to know the children of Earth and learning how to play their games...

Michael Bentine's widow Clementina recalls working the puppets under a table in their garage at home while Michael interacted with them in front of a professional t.v. camera. The ones used in the series were smaller than this puppet and Clementina thinks that this one represents one of a few preliminary designs which were tried out before the successful formula was found. This short series in 1954 of 13 eleven-minute black and white puppet films, despite enjoying considerable success, was never repeated by the BBC as Michael Bentine owned the films and all their rights himself. He apparently nearly went bankrupt making the series as the payment he received from the BBC barely coverd his costs and in his words he was only ... able to make up the deficit by working doubly hard on the music hall circuit... Despite the financial consequences, it was Bentine's opinion that ..The Bumblies were well worth the great effort required to put them on film...
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