Martin MacGilp has been fascinated by puppetry since the mid 1960s, when some pupils in his primary school class brought in their Pelham Puppets and theatre and performed some short plays in front of the class. The interest in ventriloquists and ventriloquism stemmed from around the same time, when ventriloquial acts were regularly seen on television: performers such as Ray Alan, Shari Lewis, Saveen, Terry Hall, and many others.
The interest in the historical aspects of puppet theatre grew from reading articles and books by a number of historians: George Speaight, John Phillips, John McCormick, Michael Byrom, Paul McPharlin, Gerald Morice, Henryk Jurkowski, and many others. Very little has been written on the historical aspects of puppetry and ventriloquism in Scotland: this applies not only to the standard works on puppetry history, but also within books and articles on entertainments and theatre in Scotland.
Around 1997 Martin MacGilp commenced some historical research into puppetry and ventriloquism in Scotland, which has resulted in a number of articles in puppetry journals and magazines:
Mr Punch at Glasgow Fair. In Around the World with Mr Punch , Volume 6, No 3, July 2002.
Puppets at Glasgow Fair, from the 1770’s until the 1850’s. In the Puppet
Master, Volume 16, No 6, Autumn 2008.
William Ferns’ Royal Punch & Judy. In the Swazzle, Autumn 2009. MacGilp, Martin. 2010. Biographical contributions to a feature on Bruce MacLoud. In the Swazzle, Summer 2010.
Gilpress has been created as the imprint for this project The first book to be produced was on the subject of Mr Punch in Scotland, this followed by "The Carrick Marionettes", the story of Ayrshire puppeteers, Watson and Maimie Black.