These days, Kermit the Frog doesn’t get out of bed for anything less than a Hollywood blockbuster. No, he’s not turned into a Miss Piggy-esque prima donna with his own hair and make-up team and personal stylist; he now works for Walt Disney.
The company bought up the Muppets in 2004 and it’s proved a sound investment: the comeback movie, The Muppets, grossed almost £100 million worldwide at the box office. That’s why That Puppet Game Show is a plain old “Puppet”, rather than “Muppet” show. Although made by the Jim Henson Company and some of the episodes are directed by Henson’s son Brian (who is also the puppeteer animating the game show’s Austrian science expert, Dr Strabismus), the “M” is off-limits.
RT’s Claire Webb had the pleasure of an interview…
Cologne? So Colon is pronounced “cologne” to rhyme with “zone”?
Yes. On reflection, I’m not sure that rhyme works in print. No wonder I spent three years as a warm-up act for Ant and Dec.
We don’t usually interview puppets – this could be a first for RT.
I think that statement is a bit puppetist. We’re the same as normal people; we just happen to be made of fabric and sponge.
Apologies. Are you high maintenance?
I’m just grateful to be here. I’m used to opening supermarkets in Bolton so it’s the big time, this is. I’m not like these top-flight celebrities. When we had Oritsé from JLS on the show, he came with this huge entourage – stylists, make-up artists, a fluffer lady to make his ’air look nice – and ate about 200 quids worth of Nando’s chicken at lunchtime. Me, I’m lucky if I get a sarnie and a cuppa.
Why does a puppet make a good TV host?
Puppets can say things to celebrities that are right rude and they don’t even care. We can get away with it.
Who inspires you?
The great Bruce Forsyth on The Generation Game. I model myself on him. In fact, Brucie and I have a very similar chin.
You also look and sound rather like Vernon Kay…
You’re not the first to notice. It’s entirely coincidental. Although now I think about it, my parents and Vernon’s did used to knock about together in the 70s. I’m not casting aspersions but… That’s another good thing about us puppets: we can’t be done for defamation. I don’t think.
Who keeps you in check?
The big boss on the show is Udders McGee. He’s a bull. If he’s angry, it’s best to stay out of his way because when he lets one go – let’s just say I’ve smelled sweeter!
Has there been any hanky panky behind the scenes?
Our showbiz correspondent Amber has made it very clear she doesn’t want to go out to dinner with me. All is not lost though: there are a couple of female hotdogs that I’ve taken a shine too.
Yes, we’ve a choir of crooning hot dogs. They’re 100 per cent pork – no horse in our hotdogs – and everybody seems to love them. I think they’re going to be breakout stars.
What’s the toughest part of the job?
I get a bit sweaty, so I have to put myself on a boil wash. I go round and round and round, and then I go in the tumble dryer although not for too long: I might melt. After that I hang myself on the line for a couple of hours and I’m right as rain. So that’s the only downside to doing Saturday-night telly: spending Sunday morning on a washing line.
That Puppet Game Show starts on Saturday 10 August at 6:45pm on BBC1