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Oliver Postgate

Oliver Postgate died last night. You’ve doubtless been reading a lot about him from Brits of a certain age already today: the peculiar feeling of a childhood friend we never met going away for good.

You may be forgiven for thinking the following presentation is a bit… mental. That’s how children’s TV was in Britain, way back when.

Published in researchmaterial


  1. You summed the feeling up perfectly, after I read about his death. I must grab some Smallfilms shows for my young one to experience and me to reminisce over. Just hoping Brian Cant keeps going or part of my childhood will be gone forever.

  2. JB JB

    Great early stop-mo! I wonder if this is where NASA got the idea for the Mars rovers? Cheers,


  3. David David

    Brilliant. I think many European countries had their own creators doing mad shit with puppets through the 70-80s.
    If it was completely surreal/weird/scary it was fair game for children.
    I loved it all as a kid, there was even touring puppet theatres.
    (All this in Norway btw)

    Then, dawning on the new millennium, our overlords in the goverment decided that all references to occult stuff (ghosts etc) or magic, or scary surreal stuff should not get shown at childrens hour on the state owned TV channel.
    Bloody evangelist bastard priminister, we chucked him out later on, but nobody bothered to fix it.

    So now childrens hour is shit so bland Brokencyde might look like they got cred.

  4. I am now having daydreams of invasion by armor-clad space anteaters arriving in steampunk spaceships. How powerfully strange.

  5. Andy Andy

    oh my.. I remember this now, I’d actually convinced myself I hadn’t seen this movie and it was just a piece of my imagination gone wild:) Thanks for reintroducing it to me.

  6. I thought only Russians made insane cartoons (that still haunt me every now and then). I was wrong!

  7. Seth Seth

    As a Yank, the thing that truly astounds me is the ingenuity and eloquence used in this, a children’s show. They must be adjusting the current dialogue of children’s TV to take into account the higher levels of lead in our drinking water. “Why you is mad, Ricky?”

  8. Elf Elf

    His films were also shown on Norwegian television in the 70s. Most kids my age will go misty eyed when thinking of the clangers. Not to mention Ivor the engine. I used to emulate that “tsssh-ko” sound when I played with my Brio trains as a kid.

    Must be wonderful knowing one made something that meant so much to an entire generation in several countries.

  9. Joe Joe

    I believe that the clangers’ conversations were actually scripted in English then ‘translated’ in the studio. Apparently, there’s a fair bit of swearing in some of the episodes, all done in the whistling clanger-speak.

  10. the clangers ‘spoke’ via messers firmin and postgate using slide (swanee) whistles. they spoke through them from what I recall of the interview with them years ago. worth hearing is the clangers album from the wonderful trunk records (

    they also have the small films related pogles wood and ivor the engine album which is fantastic. worth it alone for the ivor engine sound. tssh koo indeed.

  11. Captain Lou Captain Lou

    I thought the moral was brilliant…

  12. Peter Peter

    I’d never even heard of the Clangers until now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blend of whimsy and genial insanity.

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