Morph was created by Peter Lord and David Sproxton to feature in the children’s programme Take Hart alongside the artist and presenter Tony Hart. Peter and David made a very simple terracotta-coloured figure who could change shape, and because he could metamorphose they called him Morph. This is Morph’s first ever TV appearance from the first episode of Take Hart which was broadcast on BBC1 on 15 Feb 1977 at 17:15. See how different he looks.
Morph stands 12cm tall and weighs 5 ½ oz. Morph has always been hand-made out of one lump of clay. To check they always used the same amount of clay, Peter and David would weigh the clay on these old scales that they found in a junk shop in Bristol. There is an ‘M’ on the correct weight.
When Peter and David first started making Morph films for Take Hart, the production team only allocated a short amount of time for the sequences. So Peter and David would have to tell a story in under one minute – not a bad target for anyone setting out in animation. Here is a picture of David behind the scenes on the Morph set in the early days.
Chas is Morph’s alter-ego. He was originally intended to feature in just one story about Morph carving a statue of himself which suddenly comes to life and starts a fight with him. But Peter and David thought he was a great character and the double act of Morph and Chas opened up loads of story possibilities so they decided to keep him.
The Amazing Adventures of Morph episodes were 4 minutes and 30 seconds long, so Peter and David developed some new characters to help generate more complex stories – like Folly (a tinfoil girl), Gillespie (a dim-witted blue giant), Grandmorph (a long-bearded grandpa version of Morph who gets around on a skateboard and is frequently inventing things), Delilah (the no-nonsense girl with a yellow dress and glasses who isn’t very impressed by the antics of Morph and Chas) Nailbrush (Morph’s ‘canine’ companion), Goobledygook (an alien) and The Very Small Creatures! Both Folly and Gillespie were inspired by characters who made a brief appearance in Take Hart.
Peter keeps all his old sketch books and they are full of ideas and observations. These sketches are the seeds from which the story grows. For example this page from Peter’s sketchbook went on to become an animation in an episode of Take Hart.
Did you know that Morph has his own Blue Peter badge? Here is a clip broadcast on 9th March 1981, when Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene visited the Aardman studios.