It is with great sadness that we learned that Peter Wragg passed away last weekend after a short illness at the age of 65. Peter’s links to Red Dwarf are of course of huge significance, and I’m sure that all Red Dwarf fans will be sad to hear this news.
Peter’s career really began when he joined AP Films (later to become 21st Century), after his father’s building firm did some work for them. While here, he became a special effects assistant and demonstrated a knack for model work, getting an unresponsive Thunderbird ship to fly. This then became his role in the company, along with doing some building of the basic sets and landscapes. After 5 years the company closed and Peter requalified as a tool maker.
Another 5 years later, Peter was offered a 4 month contract as a visual effects assistant at the BBC thanks to contacts he had made while at 21st Century. From here, he moved up through the ranks becoming a designer, then a senior designer before managing the department in 1997. While working for the BBC, Peter was involved in a smorgasbord of shows, and many comedy fans will have been deeply familiar with his work, intrinsic as it was to shows like Bottom, The Detectives and Filthy, Rich, & Catflap. His work could be found throughout the BBCs output however, and as well as comedy Peter was also responsible for effects work on all manner of other programs such as the 1982 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles and the Doctor Who serials The Visitation, Resurrection of the Daleks and Mindwarp.
It is, of course, his work on Red Dwarf that many will remember him most fondly. Make no mistake; Peter had a huge part to play in the show in a variety of ways. He was of course responsible for the most iconic part of the show; the ship itself, and it is thanks to him that it is red at all. He had a long association with the show, and this led to the writers even basing ideas around what Peter could offer to them. One such example is Marooned, where his suggestion of a snow world led to the setting of the show. To meet the ever growing demands of the show, Peter ended up pulling together a large team to aid the shows production, and it is this that brought the likes of Mike Tucker to the latter series. For more on Peter’s work for Red Dwarf as well as his views on the visual effects industry in general, you can read his 2001 interview with the Official Red Dwarf site here.
Peter’s contribution to the field of visual effects is of course hugely important, and the debt that Red Dwarf fans owe to his work is huge indeed. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends at this time.