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Gordon Murray (1922-2016)

To generations of British kids, growing up any time from the 1960's onwards hearing the names Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley will bring instant waves of warm nostalgia. The so-called 'Trumpton trilogy' were a trio of stop-motion animated series depicting daily life of the residents of the fictional county of Trumptonshire. Narrated by Brian Cant the programmes presented a gentle look at an idealised version of English village life. Originally broadcast between 1966 and 1969, they remained in constant rotation for decades afterwards, becoming a warmly remembered part of million of childhoods, airing on terrestrial TV right up to 2000. Even today, thanks to digital and DVD boxsets, new generations of children are being introduced to the fine people of Trumptonshire.

The series were all the work of Gordon Murray, a former animator and producer who passed away on June 30th 2016. Murray's simple puppets have a very particular style and have become iconic over the years. The content of the episodes themselves was also hugely memorable, where certain sequences have become firmly ingrained on the national consciousness.

Windy Miller, the windmill owner. The train-driver.  More than anyone else perhaps.. the firemen ("Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub"). In the modern world of hyperactive high-def entertainment Murray's work may seem quaint and old-fashioned but they were hugely influential in British animation, leading to stop-motion being a mainstay of children's TV in the UK to this day.

Murray himself might not even have appreciated the importance of his contribution to the culture, as in the 80s he infamously burned almost all the surviving puppets and sets from his shows. Luckily, he seemed to have come around by his later years, and in 2012 a new digital remaster was produced of the original episodes, after Murray found them stashed away in his attic.

Post Chigley, Murray only worked on two more series before retiring from television and animation altogether in 1979.

The Trumptonshire legacy however has lived on through homage and parody, with the characters or parodies of them, featuring in commercials, sketches and music videos. Just in the past few months the Radiohead video for Burn The Witch mashed up Trumpton with the Wicker Man. Murray's family, however, did not see the funny side and threatened legal action.

Despite the cultural importance of his work, Murray himself was never widely known to the public, unlike contemporaries such as Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin of Smallfilms. He may have not been a household name, but his work spoke for itself, and will assure his legacy will be felt in the British animation scene for many years to come.

Rest in peace, Mr Murray.