Joy Laurey was the creator of the puppet character Mr Turnip, a rival to Muffin the Mule for the affections of children on Saturday afternoon TV in the 1950s. Laurey also controlled the strings for the vegetable-based marionette and his human sidekick, Humphrey Lestocq, compered the hour-long Whirligig show broadcast from the BBC's studio in Lime Grove. Always smartly dressed in a ruffled shirt and bowtie, Mr Turnip (voiced by Peter Hawkins) had a smiling round face crowned with a twist of hair which did little to hide his strings.
Such was the puppet's popularity that Uncle Spud, the Carrot twins, Sarah Swede, Mimi Melon and Colonel Beetroot were added over the next six years. Joy was born in Southsea, Hampshire, the daughter of Emily and Sidney Johnson. A theatrical streak ran through the family. During the second world war, Joy, her mother and her younger sister, Honor, all using the stage name Laurey, travelled 75,000 miles entertaining troops with Ensa (the Entertainments National Service Association) including a secret operation to perform on HMS Bulldog shortly after the liberation of Guernsey.
One of the stars of Laurey's Puppet Theatre was a young marionette boy, Snippet, who went on to appear on the BBC. Joy Laurey was then offered a chance to create a puppet for the children's TV magazine show Whirligig and produced Mr Turnip, who made his debut on 25 November 1950. The show ran until 1956, in which year Joy represented the UK at the international puppetry festival in Bucharest, Romania. In 1957 she was hired by Gerry Anderson to create the puppets for The Adventures of Twizzle.
She not only made the puppets for the show, but also (alongside Murray Clark and Christine Glanville) operated them for all 52 15-minute episodes between 1957 and 1959. One of her last creations was Septimus, a boy gargoyle that came to life and was capable of time travel. The character was devised by Joy and written by William Thatcher and intended for Anglia Television – having been rejected by the BBC – but was never televised. In 1959 Joy married Wladyslaw Luczyc-Wyhowski, and they raised a family in Tiptree, Essex