GCHQ Crackers Decode Frank Sidebottom's Mysterious Glyphs

By Gary Cutlack on at

The deskbound security police at GCHQ have solved one of the comedy world's smallest and strangest mysteries, after a clue gave them a leg up in decoding messages drawn on the merchandise of big head mode comedian Chris Sievey.

Sievey shall forever be known and worshipped as the man pulling the levers inside the giant papier-mache head of Frank Sidebottom, with one of his many odd contributions to the extended Sidebottom universe being the doodling of symbols in and around the artwork of the many newsletters, audio products and football writings that he created with, or for, on on behalf of the Frank persona.

No one has been able to work out what the symbols meant, or indeed if they meant anything at all, until filmmaker Steve Sullivan – not at all coincidentally publicising Being Frank, a new documentary about Sievey's life – revealed that a conversation with Sievey's son gave him a clue.

Sievey's boy Stirling said that his dad would fill in the inside-edge set of triangles with his codes and leave the outer row to be coloured in by the kids as a red herring; hence his work has now been decoded by GCHQ, working on the puzzle during a training exercise. Rather appropriately, the first word to be decoded was "bobbins" – a eureka moment that led to the cracking of all of Sievey's doodlings. [BBC]