For a moment, it’s time to stop dancing your cares away and shed a tear for a beloved TV friend. Gerard Parkes better known as “Doc” on Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock passed away at age 90. Entertainment Weekly posted a touching obituary that reflects on Parkes’ career and how he was beloved by both children and adults.
Parkes emigrated to Canada from Ireland in the 1950s to start an acting career. He became an established personality in Canadian entertainment, think of him as that multi-talented actor who appeared in everything. Parkes, indeed, did appear in many mediums from theater, television, and film. His most well-known role is Doc, the affable inventor on Fraggle Rock, who palled around with his dog, Sprocket. Parkes played the only recurring human character on the show, all other cast members were puppets. An interesting fact about Doc’s role on the show is that he was only on Fraggle Rock in the United States and Canada. The Muppet Wiki explains:
“…’Fraggle Rock’ was intended from the start to be an international production, and the whole show was constructed with this in mind. The bulk of the show would consist entirely of puppets, which could easily be dubbed into another language. Human “wraparound” segments could then be shot separately for each nation, so that the child viewer could always relate to the world of the program; no matter where it was aired, it would look like a locally produced show.”
Doc was infamous for being oblivious to Fraggles and the world that existed behind the hole in his workshop. From 1983 to 1987 Sprocket tried to prove that Fraggles were real to his master, though his attempts were foiled in one way or another. Fans of the show kept hoping that somehow Doc would interact with the Fraggles and at the end of the series, the two worlds finally made contact. In the last episode “Change of Address”, Doc and Sprocket needed to relocate, thus leaving the Fraggles and the hole behind. Gobo, the adventurer and leader of the Fraggle Five, finally introduces himself to Doc, who wants to learn more about Gobo and his friends. Sadly, that doesn’t happen and Doc moves with Sprocket. Through a chance of belief, the portal between worlds follows Doc and Sprocket to their new home. The Fraggles and Doc reunite on Gobo’s words: “You can’t leave the magic!”
It’s true. Gerard Parkes might have left us, but he can’t leave the magic. He’ll forever be remembered as part of one of the most groundbreaking children’s shows. A few years ago, Parkes was interviewed for a special feature on one of the DVD box sets. He said he missed the show, but most of all he missed his Sprocket. Well Doc, we’ll miss you.