Wednesday, 7 June 2017

RIP Andy Cunningham

A bit of my childhood died today with the news that Andy Cunningham passed away on the 5th June following a battle with cancer at the age of 67.

Cunningham was the creator, main writer and performer of the long running children's TV series Bodger and Badger which aired for ten years between 1989 and 1999. The show revolved around the hapless handyman Simon Bodger (Cunningham) and his badly behaved mash loving companion, a talking Badger.

Cunningham had previously been the uncredited puppeteer responsible for Ephant Mon, Jabba the Hut's head of security in 1983's Return of the Jedi and was Cambridge educated, having read English. I always liked Cunningham because he clearly wasn't your standard RP trained BBC kids TV person; you got the sense there was something of the fringe and the alternative about him, that he'd been around the block, in much the same way that the presenters of Bitsa - also on at that time - were. His long term partner was Jane Basset who performed as Badger's accomplice Mousey in later series of the show. Thought they ultimately separated, they remained great friends and she was with him along with family when he died at Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Bodger and Badger remains a popular evergreen favourite (despite not having been broadcast since 2008) thanks to its status as a cult favourite amongst Generation X'ers. Cunningham's act became a favourite on the university circuit, performing Mash Potato Theme Nights at several student unions, and at the kids field at the Glastonbury festival.


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