The Furchester Hotel
Check in at The Furchester Hotel this September on CBeebies
Louise Gold is Funella
Louise is a very experienced puppeteer having worked for many years with Jim Henson, first on ‘The Muppet Show’ and then on many Muppet movies and ‘Sesame Street’. She then helped set up ‘Spitting Image’ and performed among others The Queen, Nancy Reagan, Mary Whitehouse and Janet Street Germ! Most recently she has been working on the new Muppet Movie ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ and as two of the leads in the BBC's “That Puppet Gameshow’.
What made you decide you would like to be a puppeteer?
I trained to be an actress at the Arts Educational School and had no intention of becoming a puppeteer. I wanted to be a dramatic actress and also trained to sing and my first jobs were all in theatre so the puppeteering was a total accident. I still combine acting and puppeteering.
How did you get started?
I auditioned for Jim Henson and was successful and so I started immediately during the second series of The Muppet Show, initially doing background characters and providing voices and also being right hand to Fozzie Bear, Link Hogthrob, and Rowlf the Dog among others. I then had my own character Annie Sue Pig, a very talented, beautiful young pig. I have continued to work with the Muppets and Henson Organisation ever since. I also played Roland Rat’s mother and was a founding member of the Spitting Image team.
How long have you been a puppeteer?
I have been a puppeteer for over 30 years but always combining it with my work as an actress in TV, films, theatre and West End musicals including Mamma Mia, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins and Oliver!
How would you describe the character you play in The Furchester Hotel?
Funella Furchester is the owner and proprietor of the hotel which she runs with her husband and daughter and the various staff. She loves her family more than anything else in the world but her job comes a close second. She loves to make her guests happy and will go to extraordinary lengths to cater to all their different tastes. She can be loud and a little daunting in her enthusiasm but is very good hearted. She enjoys the social side of the hotel but gets very upset if anything goes wrong and tends to think that small problems are catastrophes.
What is your character like to work with?
Funella is quite a heavy puppet. She is usually operated with an assistant helping to operate her left hand - I am a left-handed puppeteer, usually the assistant would work the right hand. I enjoyed working her very much and loved her idiosyncrasies!
Is it easy to switch between being you and the character?
Yes but Funella, like any character an actor performs, shares many of my character traits!
Tell me about the set for The Furchester Hotel- how did you find the raised set?
I have been lucky enough to almost always work on a raised set and it makes the puppeteers job much easier. It is very physically demanding at the best of times so to be able to stand up while operating the puppeteers and not get into more awkward positions than absolutely necessary makes it, if not easy, slightly more comfortable.
What kind of things do the Furchester Fuzz Family get up to at The Furchester Hotel?
They enjoy solving the problems that arise daily at such a busy hotel that caters to a rather unusual clientele! They are always trying to improve and innovate. Funella had the wonderful and totally original idea of providing lift music. There is also a fruit ripening lounge, and various ways to make even the most surprising guest feel at home including roller skating to make service more speedy.
The staff include Cookie Monster and Elmo. Cookie Monster although very well meaning is not the most reliable staff member so some time is taken up keeping him from eating any cookie/biscuit guests!
The Furchester Hotel was recorded in the studios at MediaCity - did you enjoy your stay in Salford?
We had the most fantastic crew who made the whole experience very enjoyable and the studio facilities were wonderful.
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