Chris Bovill and John Allison
Created to launch Channel 4’s new season of dating programs, the promo features a lonely tortoise on his search for true love.
Arthur was first sculpted out of oil-based clay, standing a metre in length. His appearance was based on detailed photographs from real Galapagos tortoises in residence at London zoo. When the modelling was finished, separate moulds were taken of the shell, head and limbs. The shell was cast from fibreglass whilst the flexible body in soft silicon.
Inside the head and legs was a metal armature for puppeteers to operate with connecting rods. Arthur had no motors and so his walking was made possible with six puppeteers, one operating each leg, one for the neck and head, and one to push the trolley on which he layed.
To allow for greater characterisation in the close-ups Arthur’s head was made as a separate glove puppet, with his head and neck connected to a front portion of shell. The puppeteer could use fingers and thumb to operate the mouth, and wrist and elbow to change the position of the head and neck. Arthur’s finished look was achieved after many days art working details into his skin and shell. Twelve technicians made Arthur over a period of five weeks.