How Terry Jones' Dog Landed A Part In Jim Henson's Labyrinth

The puppet creations of The Jim Henson Company are works of art. Spearheading the way in the realm of puppetry, the company is most commonly associated with the Muppets. However, in the '80s, their puppetry skills got to flex hard with fantasy projects "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth". 

Both of the projects featured puppets with such exquisite detail, there's always something new to discover with each viewing of the films. And while "Labyrinth" features puppets that will remind viewers more of the Muppets than the more serious-minded fantasy aesthetics of "The Dark Crystal," there is a realism and humanity to each design that provides each character with a distinct personality. For example, take a look at "Labyrinth." In the first scene we see featuring goblins, each face is different. Combined with the puppetry's movements and the voicework, all of them are individualistic. 

Part of the realistic nature of the character designs had to do with the puppeteers pulling inspiration from their own lives. The creativity of "Labyrinth" is infused with personal touches. Heck, conceptual designer Brian Froud utilized his baby son Toby as the kidnapped child in the film. This is why it comes as no surprise that one of the most notable characters from the "Labyrinth," Sir Didymus, ended up being inspired by one of screenwriter Terry Jones' closest companions.

From dog to puppet

In Jim Henson's "Labyrinth," we meet Sir Didymus when protagonist Sarah Williams and the gnome Hoggle find themselves trapped at the Bog of Eternal Stench. They run into a creature named Sir Didymus guarding a bridge. Tiny yet feisty, Sir Didymus is not one to back down from a challenge. From this detail alone, it's no wonder the character was fashioned after a dog. 

In an interview with Empire, Terry Jones shared how his dog came to inspire Jim Henson in designing the physical appearance of Sir Didymus:

"I was adapting my book, 'Erik The Viking,' into a film, and I thought I'd ring Jim Henson's office to see if they'd like to do the monsters ... And they said they'd just been trying to get hold of me the day before! Jim's daughter Lisa had read 'Erik' and said I might be a good fit for 'Labyrinth.' Jim came round to my house in Camberwell and I remember he couldn't take his eyes off our dog, which was a long-haired Jack Russell terrier. It eventually became the basis for the knight, Sir Didymus. Mitch The Bitch was immortalized in Muppet form!"

The final version of Sir Didymus is dapper and Medieval-esque. The memorable design, combined with David Shaughnessy's voice work and Dave Goelz's energetic puppetry, have created a scrappy character that lives on in the minds of many more than 35 years later. Thanks, Mitch the Bitch, for your contribution!