Mr Flibble Talks To... Frequently X-plosive
The increasingly demanding Red Dwarf shoot has made use of every effects technique under the sun. Lucky for all concerned then that the FX boys are multi-talented - and none more so than Jim Francis.
13 April, 2001
Jim Francis
Mr Flibble's right hand provided by
Andrew Ellard

How did you get involved with special effects?

It was about 1972. I was in a band - I come from Germany - and we came to England to get into the music business. Being in Germany, I didn't really know what television was - it was always the radio. I was looking for a part-time job and I started at BBC visual effects at television centre when they were in their first, formative workshop - sweeping up.

At that time there were things like Monty Python and the early Dr Who's - even Z Cars was going then. It was such a small workshop that it only took half an hour to clear up, and I spent the rest of the day peering over people's shoulders. Because it was a hands-on job, the guys there took me under their wing - I got to help out where I could.

The music wasn't going particularly well, and I was getting more and more interested in the variety of effects that were being done at the BBC - even then they covered right across the board, for Top of the Pops dry ice to mechanical rigs for Monty Python. That slowly began to take more of my interest.

Then, with promotion to head storeman at Brentford where The Goodies was going on - that was even more fun. Again, learning a lot more from the guys, helping them out. Then I applied for a training attachment as an assistant, which I got, worked on a few of the early Dr Who's. Then I was put onto Blake's 7 as an assistant. One of the designers unfortunately died and they asked me if I wanted to step up as an acting designer. That's where it all started - in at the deep end! (Laughs)