Tuesday, December 09, 2008

And all the mice on the mouse organ went to sleep...


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....

2 comments:

Fergus said...

On this, I cannot but agree completely with you.

PoliticalHack said...

Cheers Fergus. Well worth watching is Charlie Brooker's show that was on tonight on BBC 4, he pays tribute to Postgate - as did his piece in the Guardian at the weekend.

Postgate made his programmes because he loved the characters and the stories. They were not levers to sell spinoff toys - perhaps the best he could hope for would be a book or two. They were simple and we loved them as much as he did.