Jim Francis

12 October, 2001

Coming over to the UK from Germany in the 70's with his band, Jim's aims at musical success were curtailed by a part-time job at the BBC Visual Effects department. Taken under the team's wing, he gained experience on shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus and Dr Who, even pumping dry ice onto the Top of the Pops set.

Becoming the fastest assistant ever to progress to designer (and thereby becoming the youngest designer ever), Jim was launched as a fully-fledged visual effects designer on Blake's 7. He became famous for his commitment to quality, insisting that Captain Zep Space Detective featured motion-controlled spaceship shots - the first time they had been used in a BBC show, but in keeping with the demands of the post-Star Wars era. But still some will remember him most fondly for his exhaustive work on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In the 1980's, Jim and his team, who had worked so successfully together on The Young Ones, left the Beeb to work independently. Company names and directorships changed, but Jim's hand could be found on projects as diverse as Nostradamus, The 10th Kingdom and new Steve Coogan movie The Parole Officer. The current series of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) also bears the name of Jim's company, Special Effects GB, in its credits.

Narrowly missing out on the Red Dwarf gig in the late 80's, he would eventually return to the fold from outside the BBC. Following visual effects work on series VI and VII, Jim and his team became fully responsible for the visual effects of the eighth season - crashing Starbugs with aplomb, as well as creating the usual bizarre props.

A great friend to the Red Dwarf production team, and one who'd seen the show grow ever since its first series, Jim Francis passed away on Friday, October 5th aged 47. He will be sorely missed.

Mr Flibble Talks To... Jim Francis - Jim talks about his career in an interview from April, 2001.

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