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Thanks to Mark Cordory, the original designer and sculptor of Smirkenorff, we have 'behind the scenes' photographs and information about how the dragon was created and operated.

Smirkenorff Pictures

An article on Smirkenorff was featured in the first ever issue of the Knightmare Adventurer's Club Newsletter, Knightmare V - The Year of the Dragon. Please read it for further background information on how the flights were filmed in the studio.

You may not know that there were actually two Smirkenorff models. The first (original) was a full-body used for the long-shots of Smirkenorff whilst in flight from Series 5 (1991).

For the next series of Knightmare, Tim Child wanted a more detailed, expressive head section for the talking scenes, which required a more complex jaw movement and therefore another model.


Clay sculpt for the original, full-body version


Close-up of the head


The clay sculpt for the close-up head. The side fins and horns were placed on after casting

 

Close-up head under construction. At this point Smirky has all mechanisms, fins and teeth installed and has been painted base green. (As this version was commissioned over a year after the full body original, Mark only had a few pictures as reference so the close-up head ended up a bit greener that the first)
 

Smirkenorff in the Knightmare studios. The man sat on the right is Clifford Norgate, the actor who played Hordriss but also provided Smirkenorff's voice and operated the cable mechanisms. The lady on the left is Claire Whittenbury, the assistant producer. She probably did the general head movements via the blue bar in the back of the puppet's head

The head was foam latex made by Sherman Labs in London from a fibreglass mould. Blink/eye/frown and jaw movement were made by Jim Sandys (who used to work for The Jim Henson Company and was responsible for Ludo from Labyrinth amongst others!).

A few more photos of the sculpt for the full-body whilst under construction, which shows a lot of detail which you probably didn't notice on TV:

And finally, a scan of an original drawing of Smirkenorff by Mark Cordory:

 

Mark Cordory's website

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