Beaker is a paranoid Muppet that appeared on The Muppet Show, starting in the second season. He is Dr. Bunsen Honeydew's assistant. Since then, Beaker has gone on to become one of the most popular Muppets, appearing in almost all of the Muppet movies (he and Bunsen had a small silent cameo in The Muppets Take Manhattan). Richard Hunt was the original performer for Beaker, but after he passed away in 1992, Steve Whitmire took over the role. Beaker may be paranoid, but he sure has a huge fan base.
The Muppet Show
Prior to Beaker's debut, Dr. Honeydew appeared in Muppet Labs segments by himself, but the timid assistant added a new level of comedy to the sketches. Dr. Honeydew's experiments and inventions always seem to go awry, and Beaker is their perpetual victim. He has been shrunk, cloned, punched, deflated, zapped, turned invisible, and blown up, but he always comes back for more.
Movies and specials
Some of Beaker's more memorable roles in the specials have been in The Muppets Go to the Movies, in which Beaker plays the role of "The Angel of Death" in a foreign film, and in The Muppets at Walt Disney World, where he gets a bucket stuck on his head throughout the special.
In a 2004 Internet poll sponsored by the BBC and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew were voted Britain's favorite cinematic scientists. They beat Star Trek's Mr. Spock, their closest rival, by a margin of 2 to 1 and won 33 percent of the 43,000 votes cast.
In July of 2008, Beaker starred in the popular, award-winning viral video "Ode to Joy". Beaker performed the song in a split-screen number: playing violin, timpani, metronome, and vocals (replacing the lyrics with extended "Meemeee"-ing). Inevitably, disaster ensues. The video was nominated in the Music category of the 2009 Webby Awards, as well as the 'People's Voice' award. Beaker won the Webby Award, and accepted the award at the June 8th ceremony.
"These days, after we did the viral stuff, I get the impression that Beaker is a guy who goes home at night, you know he’s pretty intelligent, he’s a smart guy, he works in a lab, and he probably doesn’t have much of a social life. He’s pretty introverted because he really can’t talk, so his only means of communication is the internet. I love the idea that he spends all of his time in front of a computer, which is perfect for the YouTube stuff."
Beaker normally communicates through a series of high-pitched "mee-mee-mee" noises. (In books and merchandise, it's often spelled as "Meep".) In some of his earlier appearances, Beaker's language sounded more like that of someone who was too terrified to get any real words out of his mouth. His "meeping" language began in episode 219. He did manage to muster "Bye Bye" in the Banana Sharpener Muppet Labs segment. In The Muppet Movie, his words were the closest they ever got to being real words, as his line "Sadly temporary" (echoing Bunsen) was quite clear, as well as his line "Make-up ready!" and his "Radiant Wonderfulness" line from The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. He re-used the "Sadly temporary" line in Muppets From Space. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Beaker let out an "Oh, dear!" He also muttered an "Oh no!", before falling head first in episode 107 of The Jim Henson Hour.
One key element to Beaker's development was that, unlike Bunsen, who was rarely seen outside the Labs, Beaker took more of an involvement in the show. He was often seen backstage, and had cameo bits in other numbers and sketches. He also served as an assistant stagehand to Beauregard, as well as an assistant video DJ to Dr. Teeth on the compilation video "Playhouse Video: Rock Music Rock Music".
- Richard Hunt-from The Muppet Show (1977) - Muppet*Vision 3D (1991); 1992
- Steve Whitmire-The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) - present