A big part of my childhood – and, I suspect, that of many other people in their 30s and 40s – died yesterday.
Oliver Postgate, creator of much-loved children’s TV programmes such as Ivor the Engine, The Clangers, Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog, died yesterday aged 83. Apparently he died peacefully.
Postgate was one half of the Smallfilms team, alongside artist Peter Firman. Together, the pair worked in a disused cowshed in Kent – a far cry from today’s high-tech CGI production houses – to create classic shows which live on in the memories of millions of children-turned-adults: the marvellous mechanical mouse organ in Bagpuss; the surreal, swanee whistle conversation of the Clangers, (the show inspired the name of the early 90s indie band The Soup Dragons); Postgate’s dodgy Welsh accent as Jones the Steam (“Come now, Ivor!”).
Bagpuss was voted the top children’s programme of all time in a 1998 poll, and ranked fourth (with The Clangers 13th) in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Kids’ TV Shows in 2001, holding its own among such exalted company as The Simpsons, Danger Mouse, Grange Hill and Mr Benn.
Contemporary children’s programmes may be more sophisticated, exciting and expensive than Bagpuss, Ivor and their ilk, but somehow they will never have the same simple charm of an era when two men in a shed were able to both entertain and shape the lives of an entire generation.
Rest in peace.