I was just one of a generation of children who grew up with the comforting sounds of a gentle voice narrating the adventures of a saggy, old cloth cat (baggy and a bit loose at the seams) so I was saddened today to learn that Oliver Postgate, creator and narrator of such children's classics as Bagpuss, Ivor The Engine, Noggin The Nog and The Clangers, passed away yesterday at the age of 83. I'm struggling hard not to resort to cliche and talk of different eras alongside using phrases like "they don't make 'em like they used to" but Postgate and his creative partner Peter Firmin really were representative of a specific era of children's television (which it is very easy to look at through lovely, fluffy, rose-tinted glasses). There's a particularly lovely quote from Postgate about his working relationship with the BBC, who transmitted much of his work:-
"We would go to the BBC once a year, show them the films we'd made, and they would say, 'Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?'"
"We would tell them, and they would say, 'That sounds fine, we'll mark it in for 18 months from now', and we would be given praise and encouragement and some money in advance, and we'd just go away and do it."
Brilliant. And that seems to sum up the whole feel of the programmes put out by Smallfilms, the company that Postgate and Firmin set up. Basically working out of a cowshed on Firmin's estate, they crafted a selection of perfectly formed little fictional worlds out of which they spun their stop-motion wonder. It wasn't just my generation, either - while I grew up watching Ivor The Engine and Bagpuss*, my parents had grown up seeing shows like Noggin The Nog.
So thank you, Mr Postgate, for entertaining many generations over the years. I'll let his work speak for itself - here's the first episode of Bagpuss:-
Ship In A Bottle - Part 1
Ship In A Bottle - Part 2
* I never really watched the Clangers growing up; they were slightly before my time and repeats were limited to certain shows - Bagpuss thankfully being one of the shows which seemed to get a fair share of airings.