Wednesday, 10 December 2008

No more Clangers

I seem to be writing a lot about obituaries, but I saw one yesterday that I could not let pass: the death of Oliver Postgate, aged 83, the creator of children's BBC TV favourites Bagpuss, The Clangers, Noggin the Nog, Pogle's Wood and Ivor the Engine.

- the tales of a rather portly, pink, cuddly cat - recently won a TV poll for the best children''s character of all time. I don't recall that particularly, but I was a great fan of Noggin the Nog (and his arch-nemesis, Nogbad the Bad), Pogle's Wood and particularly The Clangers. One of my student turns (after a suitable quantity of liquid lubrication) was to do an impression of the Soup Dragon - despite her name, a friendly character who provided the nourishment needed by the Clangers on their quaint, little round planet.

The creations were brilliant for their simple inventiveness, as well as having a very British, comforting warmth to the story lines and eccentric but loveable characters. The Smallfilms company he set up with his business partner, artist and puppeteer Peter Firmin, made many of the productions in a studio converted from a disused cowshed in Kent, often using home-made equipment.

According to the BBC, Postgate stopped making films in 1987 when he said the children's TV commissioners no longer wanted what he had to offer. More fool them. An entire generation of British children - now middle-aged adults - begs to differ!

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