The death of Oliver Postgate was announced today and a little piece of my childhood died with him.
For people of a certain - rapidly approaching middle - age, Postgate and Firmin's work is an instant time machine, transporting us back to an easier time before the worries of work and family. Whether it is the old saggy cloth cat that is Bagpuss, the small wool and meccano pinkness of the Clangers or the two-dimensional, small town reliability of
Dai Jones the Steam and The Locomotive of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company - which was a long name for a little engine, so his friends just called him Ivor - all have an amazing emotional pull. [EDIT: How could I get that name wrong? It was, of course, Dai Station.]
They are also touchstones for an earlier style of TV that the BBC did so well and that is itself now just a piece of history. Perhaps the only one still making programmes in that amateurish, gloriously British style is Nick Park over at Aardman. Everything else is too smooth, too targetted on a demographic, with too much of an agenda. There is no room - no opportunity for a new Smallfilms to make films in a barn. My children have loved the Postgate and Firmin work - Bagpuss is much loved in our house and the place is dotted with soft toy Clangers.
So, like many other people today, we felt a little sadness - even if we didn't quite understand why.
And one day, I really must write my thesis on the socio-political agenda behind Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green....