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Gormley plinth star felled by swine flu

PUBLISHED: 12:15 16 July 2009 | UPDATED: 09:17 12 August 2010

SKY HIGH: Gary Caplehorne and his puppet.

SKY HIGH: Gary Caplehorne and his puppet.

A PUPPETEER who made an exhibition of himself on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of artist Antony Gormley s project has been struck down with swine flu, writes Kate Mead. Just two days after Gary Caplehorne, 28, from Orpington, took part in

A PUPPETEER who made an exhibition of himself on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square as part of artist Antony Gormley's project has been struck down with swine flu, writes Kate Mead.

Just two days after Gary Caplehorne, 28, from Orpington, took part in Gormley's One & Other project, where he appeared for an hour with his 'purple puppet of celebrity' Cheeky, he was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

In his act last Wednesday at 2pm, he poked fun of 'Swine Flu survivor' Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint unbeknown to him that he would be suffering from the same mild symptoms two days later. Mr Capelhorne, who runs a YouTube channel Cheeky TV where he satirises celebrity news, said: "I don't usually do current affairs but I have done two videos on swine flu. Now I am stuck at home with it!

"I will have to do another one now of Cheeky in bed suffering from it." The former Priory School student caught the virus after meeting 10 fellow YouTubers in London last Friday and since then four of them have since shown mild symptoms.

He added: "My doctor told me not to panic people because I have a very mild strain of swine. I haven't been given any Tamiflu because they are keeping their stocks for the serious cases. I haven't slept for two days and have been feeling really ill with a cough and sore throat, but it is just like normal flu."

He has been advised to stay at his home in Wellington Road where he lives with his mum Sandra, dad Kevin and 26-year-old brother Lee who all so far have escaped symptoms. Mr Caplehorne was one of 2,400 chosen to appear on Trafalgar Square's 6m high plinth in the north-west corner of the square as part of Angel of the North sculpture Gormley's project.

Since last Monday, different people have occupied the plinth for an hour for 24 hours a day and the project is set to last 100 days without a break until October 14.

Theatre Studies graduate Mr Caplehorne had prepared an hour-long show with Cheeky, a "celebrity news hound that is out of touch" at just 24 hours notice as another participant had dropped out at the last minute. He had pre-recorded the show and was going to 'mime' with his puppet but had to improvise after he discovered his sound system was not loud enough.

He said: "I ended up having to shout and scream for the whole hour and work from the little bit of script I had. It was a bit of a car crash really."

He added: "I don't regret doing it, it's a great idea, really innovative."

The Fourth Plinth was originally designed by Sir Charles Barry and built in 1841 to display an equestrian statue but it was left empty as funds ran out. Art works displayed there included Mark Quinn's sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant and Thomas Schütte's sculpture Model for a Hotel. To take part in the project, commissioned by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson with funds from the Arts Council in partnership with Sky Arts, go to www.oneandother.co.uk.

To watch Cheek TV, go to www.youtube.com/CheekTV.

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