Obviously, kids these days don’t know they’re born. If they did, they’d probably be more bother than they are now, so don’t let on. It’s relatively quiet where I live.
I woke this morning with a funny sensation in my stomach. I’d been dreaming of Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Bagpuss. I stared at the ceiling in my room for a while before checking the time. It was 7:14. That meant I’d missed the news and I had overslept a bit (due to being up all hours last night cooking my Christmas cake. Delia, you’re a Goddess, but dear me, can’t you make your cakes cook in less than four hours?).
Slowly I realised I’d not missed the news, but had been in that half-awake/half-asleep mode and that Bagpuss and his pals had been featured on Radio 4. This could not have been good news. It could only mean one thing: Oliver Postgate had died.
These days, with so much computer-generated buffoonery, villages inhabited by every minority possible and seemingly drug-induced Midnight Garden-ing, kids telly is all very very high production values. I don’t mean that a lot of cash is necessarilly thrown at it (I believe it’s cheap enough that Cat from Red Dwarf and Terry Wogan will occasionally read a story), but that it must not appear to be anything less than shiny-perfect.
There is no room for torn-edges or washed out colours. It’s sharp and primary or nothing. And whilst you’re about it, we need a pop band to sing the theme – and release it on iTunes too.
Indeed, earlier this year, a bunch of feckwads with the terrible name of Coolabi bought the rights to Bagpuss and announced with the omnious and over-enthusiastic blah-speech of people who just don’t know when to leave stuff alone, that they were going to “introduce Bagpuss to a new generation”.
Anyone notice that they’ve done this to Postman Pat this year? No longer Greendale for bachelor-boy Pat. Oh no, dear god. Pat’s got a helicopter, a wife, a kid and probably a jet-pack, some rollerblades and an expensive cocaine habit.
Let us consider what, perhaps, this will mean for Bagpuss:
- Will it be out with the simplistic animation and the folksy-songs?
- Perhaps we’ll say so long to Bagpuss’s rather slothful and rotund attitude?
- Will know-it-all Professor Yaffle no-longer be bossy and no longer know-it-all? (Bossy know-it-alls aren’t acceptable in modern-day kids’ telly, unless at the end of the episode the bossy know-it-all has been taught a lesson and has befriended a lesbian in a wheelchair).
- The mice will be on Ritalin and will have calmed down a lot.
- No remake of the infamous chocolate biscuit from butterbeans and breadcrumbs episode. Well, not without the next episode focussing on how good fruit, veg and organic farming are.
So my normal friendly attitude has been wearing thin today under the thought that more of my childhood is about to be presented back to the world as a bowl of vomit from some independent production company’s crazed minds.
The wonderful thing about the original stories, written, drawn, animated and told by Postgate and Peter Firmin was that they were so beautifully handmade and simple.
That wasn’t the thing. That was a good thing, an excellent thing. It is something that should be taught in Media Studies courses and in art lessons.
The thing about Pogles’ Wood, about Ivor the Engine, about the Clangers, was Oliver Postgate’s narration. His voice is not just the voice of Noggin the Nog, or Bagpuss, it is the voice of the entirety of children’s television from the ’60s and ’70s.
I’m sorry if that annoys you Trumpton fans. Brian Cant was good. Roobarb and Custard’s Richard Brier’s was ace. But only Oliver Postgate had a voice which could make your soul cry with wonder and happiness.
Purchasing the Noggin The Nog DVD a few years back, I watched it all in one sitting. On my 31st birthday. It made me cry.
Thank you Smallfilms. Coolabi, beware.