JAN & VLASTA
Creators of "Pinky & Perky"
Puppeteers Jan & Vlasta Dalibor came to the UK from
Czechoslovakia in 1948. Jan spent his first three
years in this country working as a coal miner, before
launching their UK puppet career in 1951. The programme reproduced
here is from
their 1956 Summer Season at Heysham Head, near
Morecambe, Lancashire - immediately prior to their first
big television break.
two little pigs, later to become Television Superstars "Pinky
& Perky" were
included in the cast of marionettes for this Summer Season, but at the time, their
star potential had not yet been realised and they were
not even referred to in the programme.
Programme from the
Dalibors' 1956 Summer Season
1956 season included on the bill: "In Crazy Mood"
introducing Jerry & Terry, the Musical Clowns (they
played French Horn and Accordion). "East Meets
West" with Rajah Jam, the Snake Charmer and Slinky the
Snake. "Little Prue's Party Piece" assisted by
Professor Wurstschnitzel. "Bobby's Wildest Dream"
featuring Mickey the Midge, Lucy the Ladybird, Silas
Spider and Hoppy the Grasshopper. "A Peep into the
Puppet Circus" with Charlie the Chimp, the Juggling
Unicyclist and Busto the Baby Elephant. "Fish Pond
Serenade" featuring Ernie, the one and only singing
Bullfrog and Fifi the Fish. "Musical Rendezvous" with
Max Moonface at the Piano.
Pinky & Perky from
the cover of their 1963 Columbia EP: Nursery Romp
Later in 1956, the Dalibors had a guest spot on the
BBC's "It's Up to You" which is when the two little pigs
came into their own and in 1958, the first series of
"Pinky & Perky" appeared on the BBC, followed by a
further 9 years and then 4 years at ITV, taking them up
of pigs were chosen because the pig is seen as a
symbol of good luck in Czechoslovakia. The pigs were
originally to be named Pinky & Porky, but
because of a problem registering "Porky" as a
character name, they
instead became Pinky & Perky.
the peak of their fame in the mid-1960s, 15 million
viewers were watching each weekly half-hour episode of "The Pinky & Perky Show" and merchandise of every conceivable
kind bore their image, including the very popular
Pelham Puppets' versions of Pinky & Perky pictured here, which are still collectors items today.
Dalibors' marionettes were particularly finely
constructed and were notable for the flair of their
design, the like of which had not been seen before in the UK.
The figures were very well suited to the close-up
scrutiny of the TV camera. In addition to the two
pig characters, the
TV shows featured a great many other animal characters
and the Dalibors were assisted by Philip & Elizabeth
Rose as additional manipulators for the many marionettes
which appeared on screen in the more than 200 episodes which
BBC interview in the 1990s, Jan Dalibor recounted the
story of a comment made to him by a former work
colleague on the day he left the coal mines for the last
time to pursue his puppetry career. "Jan, in
ten years' time, you will be performing on Broadway."
Everyone was laughing. It was a really big joke.
But he was wrong, it took us only five years.