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.
Sad news. I loved the SFX in Red Dwarf. Fantastic considering the shows budget. RIP Peter.
Hoping a special tribute piece will make it to the eventual series X DVD/Bluray like they did for Mel BIbby in series III. I expect the Gerry Anderson And Doctor Who related fan sites.would have caught this news as well. Sad really…
Thankyou for writing about our dad, our Hero. We can’t believe he’s gone.
I worked with your Dad in the BBC Vis FX Dept from 79-87 and always found him to be generous with his time and his knowledge imparted with good humour and lots of fun. He was one of the good guys.
Nathalie I just found out this sad news of your wonderful father. I am Liz Mason, (returned from Greece). My thoughts are with you and your family.
Dear Nathalie and Neil,
I am deeply sorry to read about this sad news, your dad was great. I really wish you all the best.
Dear natalie just read about your late father I was fortunate to have a telephone conversation with peter at the bbc visual effects department when I called him regarding some information on the making of the nuclear war drama threads he was helpfull with my questions and gave me good answers Ieven wrote him a letter which he passed on to bbc enterprises and they in turn sent me every thing I needed regarding the programme sorry about his passing he was one of the best in the industry and may his work live on to eveyone who knew him and all his fans
It was my pleasure. More people have viewed this piece than any other one on this site, which I would say is a good testiment to just how much people admired his work.
Bye Peter. Hope we’ve carried on the high standard of Model VFX you established.
To a Great and Kind Man, God Bless,