Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So farewell then, Oliver Postgate

News broke this morning of the death of Oliver Postgate. I'm not sure how far his fame spread outside the UK, but here he was beloved by several generations of children as the creator and narrator of a whole host of classic television shows, including Bagpuss (once voted Britain's best-loved children's television character), The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Pingwings, that had been going since the 1950s.

He died at a nursing home near his home in Broadstairs, Kent, yesterday at the age of 83.

While younger audiences, such as those who voted for Bagpuss, are familiar with his more recent work, to me he will always be the voice of Noggin the Nog (pictured here). Noggin, his friend Thor Nogson, and his wicked uncle Nogbad the Bad was Postgate's second foray into telly, from the disused cowshed near Canterbury where he first set up Smallfilms with the artist and puppeteer Peter Firmin.

The fact that such a wealth of brilliant storytelling could come from such humble surroundings is a story repeated several times in British television, especially television for children which was always treated as a poor relation (think of Gerry Anderson). But Postgate's real magic, for me, was in his wonderful narration. At once calm and measured, but also filled with expressive wonder and delight. The perfect package for young children. "Listen to me and I will tell you the story of Noggin the Nog, as it was told in the days of old..."

[Here's my obit for him on TV Scoop]

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