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5 things you might not know about The Muppets

Frank Oz is a puppeteer, filmmaker and actor.

He's the voice behind Miss Piggy, Bert, Fozzie Bear and others in The Muppet Show, as well as characters in Sesame Street, and Yoda in Star Wars.

He told BBC Radio 5 live's Up All Night programme a few insider secrets...

Miss Piggy was an accidental pioneer

[Miss] Piggy became really insanely popular around the world in the 70s because that was the Women’s Lib movement.

And it just happened, I didn’t do it on purpose, but it just happened that her being a tough female and yet having to act coy and feminine like women were ‘supposed’ to do, somehow hit a nerve.

But I don’t stay with that, the world has changed...when I did perform after that she kept on changing depending on who I was inside, my growth and the environment.

Bert was boring - so we made him boring

Jim [Henson] fell into Ernie very easily, because Jim loved making jokes and Ernie loved making jokes.

For me, I had Bert, and I was frustrated for a long time, because Ernie had hands and he was delightful and Bert was just a stick.

He just had these boring lines, and he just had these arms which moved up and down and his head turned, there was nothing to work with.

So I realised, he’s boring so that’s what I’ll do, I’ll make him the most boring character I could possibly make.

His favourite colour is grey, his favourite food is white bread and oatmeal, he collects bottle caps...really boring stuff.

The Muppet creators didn't know 'muppet' is an insult in the UK

Frank Oz finds out 'Muppet' is an insult in the UK

Puppeteer Frank Oz has worked with The Muppets for over 35 years.

I wonder what is it that connects 'you're a Muppet' to something negative or stupid?

Stupid I understand because we love being stupid, but that's news to me!

Muppets aren't just for kids

It's very odd that it's labelled as a kids thing sometimes...even with Sesame Street we didn’t do it for kids.

When I was a kid I didn’t know what I wanted, so if I’m an adult how would I know what a kid wants?

We know we have to say certain words in order to tell the kids something but that’s all.

I believe the kids want to reach up. So we just are our adult-selves.

The voice is only 10% of being a Muppet

Because of this animation culture, where the celebrities do the voices, no credit is given to the animators who work for years on the animation.

So because of that, we as Muppet performers, it seems they equate us with them [celebrities]... but the voices are only 10% of what we do.

The rest of it is performing, making sure somebody is out of the other guys light, making sure you’re funny, making sure you hit the right dialogue, making sure the cues are right, making sure you're still doing the arc of the scene properly.

Frank Oz was speaking to BBC Radio 5 live's Up All Night programme.

Click below to hear the full interview with Frank, and reporter Jamie Stangroom.

The Long Listen: Frank Oz on life with The Muppets

Frank Oz on life with The Muppets and becoming Yoda

Frank Oz worked alongside Jim Henson to bring The Muppets to life.