British Columbia

Meet the B.C. puppeteers who were down at Fraggle Rock to help reboot the classic kids show

Victoria's Ingrid Hansen says she was obsessed with Fraggle Rock as a kid — and she could never have imagined that one day she'd be working with the show's puppets in a new series.  

Members of ensemble cast talk about working with puppets old and new for Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock

Ingrid Hansen (third human from the right) is part of the Fraggle Rock reboot that was filmed in Calgary. (Ingrid Hansen)

Victoria's Ingrid Hansen says she was obsessed with Fraggle Rock as a kid — and she could never have imagined that one day she'd be working with the show's puppets in a new series. 

"If I knew that was a career option — to be a puppeteer — as a child, I would have set my sights on that, but I think I just thought that they were legit alive and I didn't know that puppeteering was a job," she said.

Hansen is one of puppeteers who worked on Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, a reboot series of the classic '80s kids show, which was filmed in Calgary and is now streaming on Apple TV+.

In addition to playing a number of side characters, Hansen was in the body of Ma Gorg, the matriarch of the Gorg family and self-described Queen of the Universe. Hansen used the original Ma Gorg puppet from 35 years ago, which had been refurbished. 

"I was in a puppet that was older than I was," she said.

Tim Gosley, a Victoria-based puppeteer who helped mentor Hansen early in her career, worked on the original Fraggle Rock and also spent some time in the Ma Gorg costume. 

Group photo of Canadian puppeteers after a training session with Jane Henson in the early 1980s. From left: Terry Angus, Lee Armstrong, Trish Leeper, John Patterson, Jane Henson, Bob Stutt (front), Gord Robertson, Tim Gosley (back), Tom Vandenburg. (Courtesy: Tim Gosley)

Gosley said being on the original series helped jumpstart his career, and he hopes the reboot will spark the careers of a new generation of puppeteers. 

"They've really kept the original naive energy, and I'm thrilled to see it, and Ingrid being on it is pretty cool," Gosley said. 

Tim Gosley as Ma Gorg, the same character portrayed by Ingrid Hansen in the Fraggle Rock reboot, and the same suit. (Gord Robertson)

Andrew Cooper was a well known member of the theatre and arts community in Kamloops before moving to Calgary to further their career.

Cooper was brought on as an additional puppeteer on the new Fraggle Rock, assisting with many of the show's puppets, some of which are new and others, like Ma Gorg, are from the original series. 

"The thing about a show like this is that to bring the world to life and to make it feel really alive, it takes a huge group and there are a lot of different puppets," they said. "So it's really an ensemble effort. There's 25 puppeteers on set and you're all working hard on so many different characters." 

The kids' series Fraggle Rock has been remade. We heard about the Kamloops connection

Hansen said there was a strong sense of camaraderie among the cast. 

"We had so much fun because you're literally in the trenches together," she said. "The sets are built up about six feet off the ground and then there's literal trenches that you can walk through to move through the cave so that the puppets are at the right height.

"You got to be good friends real fast."

Gregor Craigie spoke with two Victorian Fraggle puppeteers - Ingrid Hansen who works on the new show, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, and Tim Gosley, a renowned puppeteer and an original Fraggle Rock cast member from the 80's.

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