A baker’s dozen of little-known facts about those giants of light entertainment The Muppets.
1: The original names for Statler and Waldorf were Heckler and Cock
2: The word “Muppet” has a Victorian origin. It was coined to refer to “musical pets” such as singing canaries, piano-playing dogs, and catskull maracas.
3: The gobbledygook-spouting, weird-looking cook Jamie Oliver is based on the Muppets’ Swedish Chef character.
4: The only celebrities to have turned down a chance to appear as guests on the show are Danny Blanchflower, Flipper (the dolphin), Lenin, Flipper (the band), and Julie Andrews.
5: Pirate episodes were broadcast in North Korea in the mid-1990s under the title The Jesus of Nazareth Show.
6: A Florida court found that when the theme tune was played backwards, the words “Satan wants you to put on make-up” were clearly audible.
7: Later series of the show were filmed in London due to the casting of Roman Polanski as Gonzo.
8: The failure of the Columbia space shuttle is believed to be down to NASA using “Pigs in Space” as a blueprint for the mission.
9: The exorbitant price of Kermit puppets during the run-up to Xmas 1976 led to the nationwide vandalism of several thousand snooker tables.
10: The release of sword & sandals epic Troy in 2006 meant the shelving of the already-in-the-can Muppets: The Iliad (Book V)
11: Jim Henson suffered from multiple allergies, including foam, ping-pong balls, and sticks.
12: Frank Oz lost half his fortune when the Elephant Football World Cup he set up was cancelled due to logistical problems.
13: Fozzie Bear wrote all his own jokes.