the porcupine pincushion

Obituary Oliver Postgate has died.

Oliver informed my childhood through programmes like The Clangers and Ivor The Engine and it’s his voice I remember hearing the most next to Mum and Dad before the age of five. Bagpuss was always my favourite, the acoustic opening, the sepia photographs, Emily, the expectation of what would be found in the shop window for her to repair and even when you knew them all, the porcupine pincushion, the ship in a bottle, you’d still be trying to guess which one it would be. The best character outside of the old saggy cloth cat was Professor Yaffle, a wise old woodpecker (ironically made from wood), based it is said, on Bertrand Russell.

Postgate only ever produced a dozen or so episodes of each during the 1970s but at least two generations of kids grew up watching them as they were endlessly repeated over the next couple of decades. It must have seemed to some like he was still working on them, but by then he’d moved on to other things – to politics and the anti-nuclear campaign – and he was even blogging for the New Statesman up until February 2008. He also auditioned to play the Voice of the Book for the film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy which I’m sure would have made that film better (with due respect to Stephen Fry who took the part instead and tried his best).

But it’s the work he did through Small Films which is his main legacy, and this intro ...

... which will probably be revisited by everyone of a certain age today as we remember what it was like to be five years old again.

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