April 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm #516
Earl’s previous regenerationSpectator
The model-making, miniature-filming, blowing-stuff-the-hell-up genius who designed the Red Dwarf spacecraft has, according to the official Red Dwarf site, shuffled off this smegging mortal coil.
Peter Wragg is a frequent flyer on the Red Dwarf DVD extras, usually boasting just a little bit – and not unjustly – about designing the show’s ships and then blowin’ ’em up real good.
He started out working on the Gerry Anderson series Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. If you ever detected a little bit of a Supermarionation “vibe” to Red Dwarf’s visual FX, that may be why. He was the visual effects designer on the daunting Doctor Who story The Visitation from Peter Davison’s first season, which included the first-ever animatronic masks in Doctor Who, as well as an elaborate android outfit. With some of the show’s FX designers, that combination alone, before you even get into laser beams and the Great Fire of London, would’ve broken ’em out in a cold sweat. Wragg just made it one of the most visually memorable of Davison’s first season, arguably ahead of Earthshock.
“Kryten, I am your father!” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooo!
(If there’s something truly startling about The Visitation, it’s that the Terileptils – impressive by any standard of early ’80s SF, let alone BBC-TV, never showed up again. There was probably no one else who could operate them properly.)
For Red Dwarf, Wragg designed and built the original Red Dwarf miniature, as well as Starbug (which he also named). He also directed virtually every sequence featuring his models, and designed and manufactured Kryten’s mask(s). He was the architect of the show’s look. [LINK]
@Doug Naylor wrote:
The last time I saw Pete was at Mel Bibby’s funeral. He told us he was enjoying his retirement and doing up his house. Craig wondered if his front door looked really “sci-fiey” and opened automatically due to an unseen stage hand pulling a rope. Everyone, including Pete, cracked up at the idea and we all chipped in with our own ideas about Pete’s home improvements, including a lift that didn’t work but had lights that made it seem you were moving up through the floors.
Pete was a modest, lovely, self-effacing, brilliant man who made budgets stretch beyond all reason – and no-one could do explosions quite like him. In fact, bits of his Gazebo from the tank explosion in Beyond a Joke are still falling in parts of southern England. He never said anything was too hard, too impossible or not affordable. I loved him to bits. We wanted an animatronic polymorph – no problem, we wanted a pair of radio controlled skutters – coming right up. In the environment of, “You guys go off, think up anything you like and leave us to worry about how we make it”, Red Dwarf became Red Dwarf.
What were you doin’ on December 4th, 1990? I only ask because according to this, Peter Wragg was blowing. stuff. up.September 23, 2012 at 6:21 am #3767
I didn’t comment when you originally posted this, mainly because when somebody dies there’s nothing that can really be said that properly sums up the man and his work in a few sentences. I guess I didn’t notice the screen caps from the Doctor Who episode The Visitation. I…. don’t remember seeing that weird android type thing before. I believe I’d remember something that odd looking. But in my defense, I watched all the episodes of Doctor Who from Tom Baker’s early run to its cancellation, and there are distinctive gaps in my memory, especially around Davison’s era. The show had become so uninteresting that I guess my mind couldn’t hang on to anything related to those years. It’s like discovering lost TV episodes for me.
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