This is the man who literally pulls the strings on the ‘simples’ meerkat TV ads after he hand-built the puppets – in his shed.
Puppeteer John Roberts, 58, was commissioned by an advertising agency to create a puppet model of the famous meerkat Alexandr Orlov.
He built the wooden character in three days and later pulled the strings for a www.comparethemarket.com ad.
In the advert Alexandr, a Russian meerkat, is seen using the model of himself as part of a puppet theatre.
The advert became a huge hit and has been viewed more than 60,000 times on YouTube.
John, of Totnes, Devon, said he had ”no idea” the puppet would become such a phenomenon.
He said: ”The whole thing has been incredible. I was originally approached and asked to make the puppet in three days.
”It usually takes three weeks to make these puppets but I managed to rope in a team to help and we made Alexandr quickly.
”I have been working on my puppet business from a shed in my back garden for the past 10 years.
”I never expected anything like this to happen. Within a couple of days of the advert being made, it was a hit all over the UK.
”It was a ‘simples’ job which has turned into a phenomenon. Alexander is a very big star.”
John was approached by an advertising company just weeks before the advert appeared on TV screens in July 2009.
He said: ”I got a frantic phone call asking me If I made puppets with strings and If I could do a meerkat.
”I told them I did and they asked if I could make one in a matter of days. I had a hand in how he looked and how he moves. It was very exciting.”
Dad-of-two John originally trained as an architect but later set up a puppet making business in his shed which he converted into a workshop.
He also recently recreated the Thunderbirds character Brains for Britvic as part of a £5.5million advertising campaign.