My Life with Puppets - Copyright Issues and Pick-Up Shoot.

Since my last blog post, I have been preparing for the first pick-up shoot in London for the documentary that took place on February 21st, conducting relevant research on the copyright issues relating to classic iconic television shows and preparing my Project Management folder.

Copyright Issues

During the interview, Ronnie mentioned that during his childhood he had watched a lot of shows that featured puppetry that were part of the classic television series Watch with Mother, broadcast by the BBC from 1953 to 1975, including programmes such as Picture Book (1955), Andy Pandy (1950), Flower Pot Men (1952), Rag Tag and Bobtail (1953) and The Woodentops (1955).

I began researching the possibility of featuring footage from these shows in the documentary. I found some episodes of Watch with Mother on a website called that suggested these episodes are now under public domain because they were first broadcast over fifty years ago.

Due to this reply, I began researching online regarding the copyright to Watch with Mother that was broadcast in 1953 and found [Anon.] 1956 that states in the Copyright Act 1956:

(1) Copyright shall subsist, subject to the provisions of the act, - (a) In every television broadcast made by the British Broadcasting Corporation (in this Act referring to as (“ the Corporation “) or by the Independent Television Authority (in this Act referred to as “ the Authority “) from a place in the United Kingdom or in any other country to which this section extends and (b) In every sound broadcast made by the Corporation or the Authority from such as place.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Corporation or the Authority, as the case may be, shall be entitled to any copyright subsisting in a television broadcast or sound broadcast made by them; and any such copyright shall continue to subsist until the end of the period of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast is made, and shall then expire.

This information that I found intrigued me but I decided it would be best practice to confirm this with the Copyright Enquires, who responded with a long message that has been edited for the purposes of this blog:

“You are correct that copyright in a UK broadcast expires after fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the broadcast was made (Section 14(2) of the CDPA); though there will usually be other underlying rights contained within a broadcast, such as musical works, scripts, films or sound recordings. There may also be certain performers’ rights.
The term of protection for musical, literary and dramatic works is life of the author plus seventy years. The term of protection for a sound recording is usually seventy years from first publication. Therefore, you should not assume that the copyright in such works will have expired just because copyright has expired in the broadcast itself.”

I decided to contact the BBC regarding their programming and the possibility of them providing me with permission to use footage from these shows. I am currently in contact with them and will report on any updates over the next few weeks.

The full e-mails to these inquiries can be found in my Project Management folder.

Pick Up Shoot

Before the shoot began, I created a paper-edit where I evaluated the interview I had conducted on January 21st with Ronnie and began constructing a rough edit with key important moments and information that could be potentially relevant to the film.

The duration of the footage is around four hours long. The finished documentary will have a maximum length of twenty minutes. In the early stages of Post-Production, it has proved difficult to cut down the vast amount of relevant information that Ronnie talks about.

How do you cut a fifty-year career into a twenty-minute documentary?

t is important to remember that once I have access to the photos, videos and have filmed all of the pick-up shoots I believe that forming the cut for the documentary will be easier then at present, due to the lack of content I have available at this current time. Before the first pick-up shoots began, I contacted Ronnie to ask if he could write a monologue reflecting on his time working as a puppeteer describing the artistry of being a puppeteer.

Ronnie kindly agreed and showed me his completed monologue which I hope will be featured in the film. On the day of the first-pick shoots, I was accompanied by my assistant, Jack Bennett, on the journey to London. We arrived at Ronnie’s house and were immediately introduced to the iconic character Muffin The Mule. I felt honoured throughout this shoot because I am creating a documentary about a renowned puppeteer with the characters he has worked on at the centre piece of his life.

I could get around fifty per cent of the pick-up shoots that I had written down. I will not give too much away but trust me, it was breath-taking to witness and film on camera. We also had the chance to visit the Little Angel Theatre, where we got permission to film outside and also the possibility of filming there in March.

Ronnie, Jack and I made the trip to the Little Angel Theatre for a Location Recce and Ronnie gave us a tour of the theatre. The theatre has agreed to allow us to film outside and in the ticket office of the theatre. We may not be able to film in the auditorium due to an external company performing at the theatre in March.

Ronnie will send over the images and videos from his large archive of photo and scrapbooks, from there, the real work of the edit for this documentary will begin. However, at this stage of the process I believe that the documentary is looking good. Our next shoot will be on March 28th, 2017 which, I believe, will be the final shoot day for the documentary, completing the shot-lists that I have prepared and finally concluding an exciting long film journey that will lead to post-production over the next few months.

Until next time.

Thats a wrap.


[Anon.] (1956) Copyright Act, 1956. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 10th February 2017]

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