|Bagpuss at the Beaney|
What child, or indeed adult, would want to tire themselves on dry visual displays – in the form of mere physical books or exhibits, that do not ‘do’ much, other than be what they are?
These seem to be perceived as old carcasses of a past world that are simply too demanding – requiring just too much investment on every level. Today, an experience can only be deemed valid if it involves interactive screen activity, to intensify a moment of instant gratification, preferably with the capacity to take shots of the ‘user’ who can then share their seconds of pleasure so that it can be ‘liked’.
|Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ|
|Noggin the Nog|
Just as the physical characters and sets were made of a jumble of recycled objects – the very principle of Emily’s shop in Bagpuss – the inspiration was gleaned from a variety of sources. Ivor the Engine drew partly on the melodic, melancholic tones of Under Milk Wood, by Dylan Thomas, whilst the characters of Noggin the Nog (late 50s), with their ‘telling of tales’, were based on the Lewis chessman at the British Museum. Of course, in comparison with the glossy, seamless, high-definition CGI work of today, the Smallfilms productions look rather thread-bare and "a bit loose at the seams", like Bagpuss himself. Nesting swallows would leave droppings on the Clangers’planet set located in the barn film studio, and marauding mice were known to nibble at the knitted characters such as the poor old Soup Dragon! But all this was a different, rather more innocent era, of invention and improvisation, yet a period that was oddly richer in many ways. Even Bagpuss, with its 13 episodes, voted the most popular BBC childrens’ programmes ever made in 1999, had an original start in the early 70s. When the marmalade-coloured tom came back from the manufacturer’s in a very unusual pink hue with cream stripes, Firmin declared that there were not enough pink cats on television screens!. Thus Bagpuss made his entry in a glorious strawberry ginger tone.
Oliver Postgate wrote his memoir Seeing Things in 2000 – I think this will be my Christmas present to myself.
|Mouse Organ-inspired mice that I made some time ago...|