Counterpane Tales

A fantastical project for children, confined to beds or in isolation units in hospital.

The Barmy Bed Officers entertained and delighted children from 2-14 years old with four individually-tailored shows.

Barmy Bed Officer Tony
Barmy Bed Officer Tony
Barmy Bed Officer Gacko
Barmy Bed Officer Gacko







In 2003, Tonic (arts in health in Leeds), commissioned Poppets Puppets, to research, develop, write and perform a series of puppet shows intended for an exclusive audience of one! The shows were especially designed for those children in confined them to their beds hospital because their illness and who generally miss-out on the activities provided by the ward. Children who have had complex surgical procedures, transplants or those who have cystic fibrosis, for example are often in great need of emotional support, intellectual stimulation and entertainment.

A fully ‘wipe-downable’ option was available for children with low immunity or those in barrier nursing, this ensures that even the most poorly child can join in the fun! As a special momento, every child received a personal photograph with any of the characters in the show.

When some of the children were just too poorly for puppets, we were able to offer a traditional puppet booth show to entertain a group of children on another ward.

Each hospital residency day included at least three half hour shows, workshops on puppet making, performing with puppets, music making and storytelling. We even ran training sessions for play workers to learn how to make puppets and perform creative shows with future patients.

Here are some comments from patients and parents who watched the show.

The puppet show was a lovely thing to do, because it was on a one to one basis. It made Michael feel special – that the attention was especially for him. The show was aimed at what they knew Michael liked and understood, and they had a way of communicating that involved Michael from start to finish. Also the photograph was a great finishing touch. Thank-you.
Michael’s Mum, Leeds.

Very personable guys, quick-witted (a little like chuckle brothers). Liked the mix of slapstick (Bed Officers) and puppet show. Appealed to broad range (including parents). Clever but simple props. Nice to get children involved and participating. Great for isolation, an enjoyable time and distracted our daughter very effectively.”
Mum of twins, Leeds.

I thought it was all great and I wouldn’t change a thing!”
A Patient.