Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings

Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings, a new and unique publication about a puppeteering pioneer, written by Stuart Woodhead, is available now.

Joy Laurey - The Girl Who Pulled The Strings by Stuart Woodhead

Joy had many achievements in her life, one of which included being a key part of the Twizzle production team, one of Gerry Anderson’s earliest productions, for which she actually made all the puppet characters and operated them, with the assistance of Murray Clark.

Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings is a celebration of the life of Joy Johnson, who took the stage name Joy Laurey, after her father, clown Sam Laurey. She was the “mother” of Mr Turnip, amid the 71st anniversary of the BBC’s Whirligig.

A "Mr Turnip" advert in the Radio Times 1951, advertising his stories to be featured in Mickey Mouse Weekly. Joy cut out and saved every single story featured. Image via Stuart Woodhead
A “Mr Turnip” advert in the Radio Times 1951, advertising his stories to be featured in Mickey Mouse Weekly. Joy cut out and saved every single story featured. Image via Stuart Woodhead

“Mr Turnip” featured in Disney’s Mickey Mouse Weekly, and Joyworked alongside Gerry Anderson on Twizzle, though her collaboration with Peter Ling (Doctor Who, Crossroads) and Peter Hawkins (Bill & Ben) for Mr Turnip is by far her most recognised achievement.

Joy Laurey, from Tiptree, and much-loved TV character Mr Turnip in Scarborough in the 1950s. Photo via Stuart Woodhead

Mr Turnip was a celebrity in his own right. The merchandise that followed was more than any other TV celebrity.

Joy, who died in 2014, aged 90, was also a prolific watercolour artist, World War Two troop entertainer, successful businesswoman, travelling internationally to represent Great Britain as a leading figure in her field, and of course “the girl who pulled the strings” on BBC’s Whirligig.

For the past twenty years, Stuart Woodhead has been a Mr Turnip superfan. A lifelong collector of puppets and vintage toys, over the years he has amassed a wealth of original items, artwork, photographs, theatre programmes, professional stage puppets and other ephemera, and is now founder of “The Joy Laurey Archive”.

Many of the photographs within this book are exclusive and never before seen by the
public, including behind-the-scenes images on the set of Whirligig, taken by Joy herself at BBC’s Lime Grove Studios, London. There are also archived personal photographs of her trip to Romania for the very first International Puppet Festival in 1958, as well as rare portrait work by Baron, an official Royal photographer.

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

Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings reveals why Joy Laurey was a pivotal figure in the world of puppetry.

Buy Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings from The Joy Laurey Arhive

Buy Joy Laurey – The Girl Who Pulled The Strings from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

The Joy Laurey Archive

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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