Muffin the Mule is set to make a television comeback for his 60th birthday after the BBC announced that they had bought a new series.
The dancing wooden mule first appeared on British TV screens in 1946 in the programme For Children when he starred alongside Annette Mills. He made his last appearance in 1955 a few days before Annette died.
Muffin was the first character created especially for children to appear on television and throughout the 1950s and 60s he went on to feature in another famous TV show Watch With Mother.
Maverick Entertainment, a small production company, bought the rights to the show. However, rather than use puppets, they plan to produce an animated programme reuniting him with all his old friends, such as Louise the Lamb, Oswald Ostrich and Willie the Worm.
The new series, which will see Muffin as a “problem solving moral guardian” for all his friends, is due to be screened within the next three years to coincide with his diamond anniversary celebrations.
Another change will be the backdrop – thenew Muffin will reside at a city farm and each episode will be a complete story.
A BBC spokesperson said: “They will be proper stories with a beginning, a middle and an end.”
The BBC has commissioned 26 episodes, which will be shown on the digital channel CBeebies and on terrestrial TV from the end of 2005.
The history of Muffin the Mule
Althought Muffin made his television debut in 1946, he was already 12 years old. He was dreamed up by the famous creator of Punch and Judy puppets, Fred Tickner, during the 1930’s when the Hogarth Puppets were involved in the experimental medium of television.
Among the special theme presentations planned by the Hogarths was a circus sequence, which required a mule puppet. The puppet needed an appearance that would help develop a comedy angle, which is why many believe Muffin’s head was made so large.