A group of kids from Bury, Greater Manchester got to end their summer term in a completely unexpected way yesterday (July 20). Instead of bringing in games to play, they paid tribute to the local hero and comedy legend, Frank Sidebottom, by creating papier mâché heads for themselves and wearing them outside in the sun. Their teacher, Debbie Measor, said the inspiration for the project was to encourage children to be creative and follow their dreams. “It was quite a wacky thing to do,” added headteacher Malcolm Gate, “and certainly gave us a lot of laughs”.
If you’re unfamiliar with the cult comedy figure of Sidebottom – who was the inspiration behind the 2014 film Frank, which starred Michael Fassbender – the first thing you need to know is he was the comedy creation of Chris Sievey, originally the frontman of Manchester punks The Freshies, best known for the single ‘I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk’.
Once Sievey developed the orb-headed comedy character in the mid-‘80s, he went method, rarely, if ever, appearing in public without his papier-mâché head. Sidebottom became a counter-culture icon via his radio shows, TV appearances and releases, which often included cover versions reworded in honour of his hometown, Timperley, in Cheshire, and his Oh Blimey Big Band included members such as BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe and the journalist Jon Ronson. He died in 2010, aged 54, and a statue of him – with the head, naturally – has since been erected in Timperley.
Anyway – back to the kids. Their end-of-term celebrations have comprehensively set the bar for music-loving primary school teachers around the country. Next year we’re expecting to see KISS, Bowie, and Lemmy tributes at the very least.