PG Tips Monkey-man brings Peppa Pig to life
Beloved puppet pig tours the country with her oinkish friends
What links a small pink pig loved by pre-schoolers, a tea-swilling monkey and the entire British Cabinet made of latex? The answer is Nigel Plaskitt, a man who has worked on Spitting Image, operated the PG Tips monkey, and is currently the go-to guy for Peppa Pig’s transition from small screen to stage.
Working as the puppetry consultant for Peppa Pig’s Treasure Hunt, the follow-up to the hugely successful theatre show, Peppa Pig’s Party, Plaskitt has been drawing on the skills amassed over an impressively varied career.
‘Little things from everything I’ve done in the past go into everything I do in the future,’ he says. ‘Because you just carry on learning. When I worked on Avenue Q, I started developing the same style of puppeteering we use in Peppa Pig now. And at Spitting Image I learned that slightly off-the-wall sense of humour, which doesn’t necessarily come through in Peppa Pig, but it’s in there somewhere.’
Since first appearing on Channel 5 in 2004, young Peppa and her family have snuffled their way into the hearts of under 5s across the world. So the opportunity to see their heroine in 3D at a local theatre was always going to be a big draw. That said, not everybody lives up to expectations. What is the Peppa team getting so right?
‘I think first of all you have to start with a really good TV show,’ says Plaskitt, ‘and this one is so beautifully written and simple. Then Richard Lewis, the writer and director of the stage show, has taken the programme and recreated it in the theatre. Paul Jomain has done a great job turning two dimensional drawings into 3D puppets, which isn’t easy. Then I spent a lot of time with the cast, helping them to really get expression from the puppets, rather than just open and shut their mouths. And this cast really understands what works and what doesn’t, and they’ve done a really good job.’
Peppa Pig's Treasure Hunt is on at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 4 & Thu 5 Jul; King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 18 & Thu 19 Jul.