Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oliver Postgate 1925-2008

Oliver Postgate died aged 83.

Oliver Postgate created Bagpuss, the Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Pingwings and more. He was one of the top figures, if not the top figure, in a Golden Age of UK children's programming. It was a time of creativity, a love of fun and all things silly. It was a time when the sole aim was to put smiles on the faces of children. To make them laugh.

And that's exactly what Oliver Postgate did. Over and over again.

His importance, for several generations of smiling children, can't be overstated. Even now, thirty and forty years on, mentioning one of his shows will bring people right back to their childhood. The Clangers has become a common language for fun, for carefree times. Mention Bagpuss and a room can fill with warmth. For those of you outside the UK and Ireland, this effect is truly amazing. Look inside to the playful innocent child inside someone who grew up in Britain or Ireland from the 60s on and, somewhere in there, you'll find some or all of Oliver Postgate's characters.

He inspired a generation of artists, creators, animators, illustrators, writers, dreamers and free thinkers. Anyone with an ounce of imagination.

We may have lost a legend but his influence will be felt for decades, possibly much longer.

Goodbye Bagpuss. Goodbye Clangers. Goodbye everybody. I'll miss you all.


Andy Latham said...

What a wonderful CV he had! I wish they made TV like that these days.

dermot said...

"And when Bagpuss was asleep,
All his friends were asleep.
The mice were ornaments on the mouse organ.
Gabriel and Madeleine were just dolls.
Professor Yaffle was just an old wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.
Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep, was just an old, saggy cloth cat,
Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams,
But Emily loved him."

In the comments section of one of the youtube clips, a remarkable number of people comment on how those words bring tears to their eyes.

"Bloody hell. I'm a 39 year old builder, and I'm crying as I type. What the hell?" was my favourite.

Yeah, I'm tearing up. What the...

Bitter Animator said...

Yep, there's a whole generation of people out there who grew up with his work. He achieved some amazing things and it doesn't surprise me that it's affecting a lot of people.

Unknown said...

I was just watching "Animation Nation" and they brought up some of these shows. I'm Canadian, so I didn't grow up with these, and I'm kind of surprised how many of them are stop-motion. Is there a reason for that, or is it just a coincidence? Is it the influence of Oliver Postgate?

Bitter Animator said...

Good question. It seems to predate Oliver Postgate but, as far as I can see, comes more from a tradition in puppetry. The stop motion seems to have developed from that. Hard to say though. Postgate, with his animator Peter Firmin, did some stuff that was hand drawn but actually moved and shot like stop motion.

As far as I know (I could be very wrong here), although there was some on-paper frame by frame animation in the form of opening titles for shows, the first show that was totally animated on paper in the UK was Roobarb in 1974. That really doesn't sound right at all given how recent that is and the long history of animation, but I can't find an earlier television show example.

I'd love if someone could confirm or deny that.

Puppetry on UK television, however, seems to go way back and I think the stop-motion came from that.

One of my favourite examples is Paddington Bear, which still wows me after all these years.