Superfan Stuart Woodhead publishes book about famous BBC puppeteer Joy Laurey, including her summer seasons at Scarborough’s Floral Hall

Joy Laurey pictured in North Ba, Scarborough, during one of the summers she performed at Foral Hall
Joy Laurey pictured in North Ba, Scarborough, during one of the summers she performed at Foral Hall

It is a celebration of the life of puppeteer Joy Laurey, mother of Mr Turnip, who appeared on the BBC children’s program Whirligig – broadcast from 1950 to 1956.

She’s also featured on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Weekly and worked alongside Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson on Twizzle.

His collaboration with Peter Ling and Peter Hawkins for Mr Turnip is his most recognized achievement.

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Stuart Woodhead has published a book about the life and work of puppeteer Joy Laurey

“Joy was a prolific watercolourist, a troupe artist in World War II, a successful businesswoman, traveling overseas to represent Britain as a leading figure in her field, and of course” the girl pulling the strings “on the BBC’s Whirligig”, Stuart said.

For the past 20 years Stuart Woodhead has been a huge Mr Turnip fan.

“About 20 years ago I bought the Pelham Puppet version of Mr Turnip and fell in love with his character.

“Later I managed to get my hands on one of Joys BBC’s on-screen puppets, Mimi Melon, a friend of Mr Turnip.

Joey Laurey with Harry Corbett and Sooty at South Cliff Gardens in Scarborough

“Then I set out to collect as much as I could of Joy’s work and bought almost all of her collection from auction houses, including drawings, stories, programs and photos. .

Owner of a tattoo and laser treatment business in Grimsby, he has always collected puppets and vintage toys.

Over the years he has amassed a multitude of original objects, works of art, photographs, theater programs, professional stage puppets and other ephemera and is the founder of the Joy Laurey Archive.

Joy performed at Floral Hall in Scarborough, alongside Harry Corbett and Sooty and Windy Blow the Balloon Clown.

“Many of the photographs in this book are exclusive and never before seen by the public, including behind-the-scenes footage from the set of Whirligig, taken by Joy at the BBC’s Lime Grove studios in London,” he said.

“There are also archived personal photographs from his trip to Romania for the very first International Puppet Festival in 1958 as well as rare portraits of Baron, an official royal photographer.

Stuart is passionate about preserving the work and legacy of Joy Laurey, showing what a pivotal figure she was in the world of puppetry and ensuring that the nation’s favorite and admiring vegetable, Mr. Turnip, will live forever in the hearts and minds of generations to come.

This is her first book and is taken from her material for the Joy Laurey archives. During the first lockdown of 2020, unable to work, Stuart had the time and information he needed and quickly began writing the book.

“In the summer, I sat in my garden and found a new passion,” he said. “I hope to bring back the character of Mr Turnip for a new generation and have set out to publish books written by Joy Laurey that have never been published.”


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