Newbridge puppeteer works his magic on new CBBC show ‘Brain Freeze’

Paula Campbell

Reporter:

Paula Campbell

Liam Geraghty
Liam Geraghty from Newbridge always wanted to be a puppeteer so it is no surprise that when he got the chance to test his skills in a new children’s TV show called ‘Brain Freeze’ he jumped at the chance.

Liam Geraghty from Newbridge always wanted to be a puppeteer so it is no surprise that when he got the chance to test his skills in a new children’s TV show called ‘Brain Freeze’ he jumped at the chance.

A self confessed fan of the Muppet Show and its creator Jim Henson, Liam, from Allenview Heights, is also a freelance journalist for RTE.

“I always wanted to be a puppeteer,” said Liam, who is also behind the award-wining podcast Comic Cast, about comics, animation and illustration, along with fellow Newbridge man Craig O’Connor.

“I am obsessed by Jim Henson of the Muppets. I loved his creativity and his way of being really relaxed. When the show’s producer Colm Tobin tweeted that he was looking for a puppeteer I was doing a cabaret puppet show at Panti Bar in Dublin, so I sent a clip of me doing that to Brain Freeze. In the clip, the puppets lip sync to songs for my show and Brian Freeze needed someone to puppeteer all the acts and lip sync to prerecorded lines.”

Funded by Science Foundation Ireland and CBBC, the show addresses “various misnomers and myths in science” and it is aimed at 8 to 12 year olds.

There are three main characters, all performed by Liam, and each episode is four minutes long. The characters are Dr Knowles; the madcap Prof McCork; and the show’s long-suffering floor manager, Colin.

“I spent most of last year doing the show.” added Liam went to the Patrician Brothers Secondary school and whose parents, Bill and Barbara, still live locally. “It was the dream job for me. We would finish one episode per day and I would spend the whole day lying down on the floor with my hand in the air. It is very tiring on your hand - all that opening and closing- for the whole day can be quite tough. I perform all the characters who are filmed against a green screen.”

Dr Knowles, voiced by Maura Foley, the show’s lead scientist, is “an everyman character who’s serious about her job and wants to get all this information across to the audience”, says Tobin. Whereas Prof McCork – hilariously voiced by Aidan O’Donovan, who also writes the scripts with Tobin – is a “bumbling, old-school Cork professor who doesn’t know anything about anything”. And lastly, the team’s newest addition is Colin the floor manager, voiced by John Colleary.

“The show has just started on CBBC with a 13 episode run,” said Liam.

“We are hopeful and the BBC seem very happy. It will be aired on RTE in five weeks time and the international rights have been bought by Ardman studio who make Wallace and Gromit.”

The show currently airs every Wednesday and Thursday on CBBC at 5.55pm.

“You feel your way through the lines,” he added.

“I didn’t learn them as I didn’t feel that I needed to. I would get the audio a day before and have a few listens to it. There was a monitor beside my head so I could look at the screen and see what the camera was doing. However everything was back to front that way so I had to be careful when reaching for a something to make sure I used the right arm. The show is aimed at 8 to 12 year olds but anyone can really enjoy it. It is a comedy and I think adults will enjoy it as much as the kids.”

Going back to Liam’s love of the Muppets, he stalls when asked who is his favourite Muppet of all time.

“That is a great question,” he says before admitting that it has to be Gonzo.

“Gonzo is my favourite - he is just mad. He can eat a block of cheese to classical music and call it art. I am reading Jim Henson’s biography and he talks about the man behind Gonzo. He was in fact a puppet maker and never had the confidence to be a puppeteer, until one day Jim Henson convinced him to go for it. That is kind of like my story. It happened by accident. I learned it through osmosis from watching so many muppet shows through the years. I still watch the muppets.”

When Liam is not working with puppets he enjoys making documentaries and doing radio ad voice overs.

“I love radio documentaries and features,” he said.

“I really enjoy being a freelancer and I also do voice overs for radio adds. It was complete luck tat I got into Brain Freeze when it came along. I work on several shows such as RTE’s The Business with George Lee, the book show, the history show, culture file and Lyric FM. However I spent most of last year doing Brain Freeze. We filmed on some of the hottest days of last summer and that, combined with the studio lights, meant I wore shorts to work most days.”

Made in Dublin by Kite Entertainment, Brain Freeze uses a unique blend of puppets and animation to create a world where science facts meet big laughs.

Each episode sees our heroes, Dr. Sorcha Knowles and Prof. Mike McCork,answer the days BIG QUESTION and explain the science behind their BIG ANSWER.

It’s all done under the ever-stressed and panic-stricken eye of Colin, the shows guinea pig floor manager.

Liam’s hero Jim Henson was an American puppeteer, artist, cartoonist, imagineer, inventor, screenwriter, actor, film director and producer, best known as the creator of The Muppets. As a puppeteer, Henson performed in various television programs, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for projects like Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth.

He was also an Academy Award-nominated film director (for his short film Time Piece), Emmy Award-winning television producer, and the founder of The Jim Henson Company, the Jim Henson Foundation, and Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

“There will never be the likes of the muppet show again,” said Liam.

“It pioneered the way for every thing else and was so clever.

“It was as much for the adults as it was for the kids.”