John Blundall, born in 1937, was a legendary figure for generations in the world of marionette puppetry and a key member of the AP Films team of puppeteers and sculptors from Supercar through to Thunderbirds. The son of a painter and a fine craftsman, John found his way by combining his artistic leanings (he was keen when young to become a performer) and craftsmanship. At school he was keen on drama, woodworking and metalwork. In 1951 he created his first marionette theatre, The Festival Marionettes (this was the year of the Festival of Britain), a four-person group of puppeteers and a marionette variety act.
John worked in variety theatre as a Stage Designer and Stage Director, at the Dudley Hippodrome and the Pavilion Theatre, Liverpool. This form of popular entertainment was declining due to the rise of television, which was sweeping all before it with the arrival of commercial television from 1955. Christine Glanville invited John to join the AP Films team on Supercar, and his skills in woodworking and creating puppets resulted in some of the most memorable puppets used in the Anderson series.
The most famous of all his designs was Parker, but Thunderbirds was to be the last series John worked on for the Andersons – his ideas of puppetry as an expressive, artistic form becoming at odds with the more lifelike approach Century 21 was taking with Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons. Much of his subsequent efforts went into the formation of Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre, which operated for a quarter of a century and was internationally renowned. Through Cannon Hill John helped to train a new generation of puppeteers who went on to work for Jim Henson and the Spitting Image TV series.
Malcolm Knight brought John to Glasgow with his Collection in 1996, employed him as Artistic Director for two years and housed his Collection for four years free of charge. They worked together on a project called ANIMA to be housed at Martyr’s School (Macintosh Building) in Glasgow and John taught on the HND Puppet Theatre Arts via SMPC and Anniesland College. In 2000, John moved to the Old Glasgow Room in The Mitchell Library to establish The World Through Wooden Eyes. Sadly John passed away in 2014.