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Vectis Auctions Ltd – 23rd June 2020

Featuring in the 23rd of June TV and Film Related sale at Vectis Auctions, was a collection of original BBC TV props and ephemera from the Children’s Show Whirligig.

Whirligig was first broadcast in 1950; a new children’s programme that soon became a huge success. The show ran for 6 years and aired fortnightly in a prime-time 5pm Saturday evening slot. The show featured Mr Turnip, a vegetable-based puppet who became a celebrity in his own right. He had toys, dolls, games, and even toiletries made in his name, as well as being made children’s “Man of the Year” in 1951.

Mr Turnip was created and operated by renowned puppeteer Joy Laurey. As the show was broadcast live Mr Turnip had many more strings than a conventional puppet, allowing for a greater range of movement by Joy.

The original, fully operational, Mr Turnip puppet prop, owned and created by Joy Laurey, featured in the Vectis Auctions TV and Film related sale on the 23rd June 2020. He was accompanied by original scripts, including one dated 25th November 1950 – the first time the show was aired; plus working notes from Joy, studio floor plans, contracts, photographs and correspondence.

Other Whirligig items included printers proof mock-up annuals, Mr Turnip and Whirligig annuals, and puppet related literature. Some very interesting reading.

Also in the collection were two further puppets created by Joy. Septimus and Phoebe, the puppets were designed and created for the show “The Adventures of Septimus”. The show, which was not televised, was intended for Anglia Television and was about a stone gargoyle boy who comes to life and is capable of time travel. This unique lot also includes letters, sketches and photographs of the intended show.

Another show, which Joy Laurey was commissioned for and which was subsequently produced was The Adventures of Twizzle. “Twizzle” was produced by Gerry Anderson and AP Films during the late 50s early 60s, the puppet, Jiffy The Broomstick Man, was created by Joy using images created by Roberta Leigh, these original hand coloured illustrations were available within this fascinating collection.

The catalogue is now online at

These lots can be found between Lot 316 – 330

For further information on any of the lots in this collection or in this sale please contact Kathy Taylor on 01642 750616 or email

Mr Turnip BBC TV original Whirligig puppet prop, 1950s, papier mache and lime wood, hand-made by Joy Laurey, fully operational moving inset eyes, articulated jaw, coiled wire turnip root at top of head, painted features including black beauty spot to upper lip, jointed wooden arms and legs, lead weighted feet, fifteen strings and control bars, wearing original brown velvet jacket, white cotton dress shirt complete with collar and tie, tiny pearl buttons, multi-coloured spotted brocade waistcoat with pair of charms (heart and coin) attached, green cloth trousers, within original carrying case - JOY LAUREY PUPPET STUDIO TIPTREE ESSEX TEL TIPTREE 133 paper hand-written label to inner lid. In addition dark brown velvet smoking jacket with gold brocade trim, padded collar and cuffs, extra brown velvet jacket and cloth cape. Plus props: despatch case, wooden chair, rocking chair, brocade cushion, miniature business /calling cards, straw boater, Colonel Beetroot's hat, patterns for Mr Turnip's, clothes and disguises. Some moth damage to clothing, overall wear commensurate to age, 21.5"/55cm (qty). NB These props can be seen within many of the period photographs of the time.
Estimate: £1200 - £2200 Sold For: £4000
Twizzle (Gerry Anderson) original hand-coloured photostat of Jiffy the Broomstick Man from the original by Roberta Leigh, ex property of Joy Laurey, finely painted in gouache, unmounted, this illustration shows a frontal view of the character, used by Joy Laurey to create the puppet persona for the TV Series, approximately 10"/25cm x 8"/20cm; plus press clipping from Radio Times, with Romeike & Curtice Ltd note attached, stamped 18 July, 1958, also signed J.Laurey, of Associated Redifusion Tuesday 22 July , 5.30 Adventures of Twizzle, Jiffy and Polly Moppet Quarrel, with illustration of Jiffy the Broomstick Man - as seen in the former. (2)
Estimate: £20 - £30 Sold For: £160
Joy Laurey collection of letters, etc, includes: Pearl Beresford solely representing Joy Laurey letter to Miss Joy Laurey regarding contract from the BBC; Letter from Michael Westmore to Joy, regarding her fine work; cassette tape Woman's Hour with Joy Laurey interview describing how Twizzle was made. NB Joy Laurey produced two Twizzle puppets - one in 'normal' the other in 'stretched' mode!; letter from Peter Hawkins (voice of Mr Turnip) to Joy Laurey, postmarked 24 July 1952, re Flowerpot Men pilot and copy of Joy's reply, hoping all goes well '"for the Flowerpot Men"; letter from Mr Turnip to admirer, Miss Sylvia Peters (TV presenter), signed "I remain your admiring vegetable, Mr Turnip"; compilation within exercise book of photographs taken during the last Whirligig, hand written explanation by Joy Laurey, saying cast members can purchase copies - plus request for photos by various members of the production against each photograph (MANY PHOTOGRAPHS ARE MISSING); My Rainbow Scrap Book compiled with press cuttings, Family Fun advertisements, Sooty's Magic Circle membership application form, Percy Bee (magician) PR card, etc; newsletter from Gordon & Gotch regarding Mr Turnip's merchandising - Mr Turnip balloons; some original photographs of Mr Turnip and Joy Laurey; etc; (qty).
Estimate: £30 - £40 Sold For: £260
Septimus puppets and associated ephemera, by Joy Laurey, c.1960, based on the Adventures of Septimus (a boy stone gargoyle that comes to life and is capable of time travel), devised by Joy Laurey and written by William Thatcher (not televised), intended for Anglia Television, including original pencil sketch working drawings with interior and exterior set design, Septimus and Phoebe sketch, camera script, story board, pair of letters (dated 5th and 7th September) from Roger Hancock and Anglia Television regarding dummy run of Septimus on Tuesday 13th September, black and white photographs of Septimus, scripts for episodes 1-3 inclusive. Septimus marionette in composition and wood, inset black painted eyes, articulated jaw, wooden jointed body, composition hands, painted in shades of grey overall, grey medieval-style costume, embroidered with black floral motif to centre of chest, hat, fully strung, wooden control bar, 23.5"/60cm; Phoebe marionette composition and wood, black bead eyes, articulated jaw, wooden jointed body, composite hands, painted in shades of sepia overall, medieval-style earthy coloured velvet dress and head-dress, woollen underskirt, 21.5"/55cm; within original carrying case - JOY LAUREY PUPPET STUDIO TIPTREE ESSEX TEL TIPTREE 133 paper hand-written label to inner lid; all showing wear commensurate to age, need restringing. (qty)
Estimate: £150 - £260 Sold For: £460
Mr Turnip BBC TV Whirligig books and comics, ex property of Joy Laurey: Mr Turnip Flies Around the World, a Twirly Book, Good Plus; Mr Turnip Painting books 1 and 2; Mr Turnip's TV Whirligig Annual x 4, plus three further TV Whirligig Annuals; Twizzle's Adventure Stories (Gerry Anderson) by Roberta Leigh; TV Comic Annual; plus specially printed flyers advertising the Annual; - Poor to Good Plus - badly stored and suffering from damp. (qty)
Estimate: £30 - £40 Sold For: £80