I was saddened. but not really that surprised, to hear that Oliver Postgate has died. Along with his partner, Peter Fermin, he was the creator of some of the finest children’s programmes ever created. Bagpuss, The Clangers, Noggin The Nog and Ivor the Engine were gentle, hand-crafted and beautifully atmospheric. His work is the antethesis of the loud, bright kid’s shows of today (although I still detect some of his surreal influence in some of the shows for tinies like In The Night Garden). His voice was always incredibly evocative, a big warm sonic hug. The animation was never the smoothest, but the charm of the storytelling pulled you past all that and into his world, a safe, nurturing place.
I was lucky enough to meet them both when I remastered the Smallfilms Archive for video release in the mid-90s, work of which I am still enormously proud. Oliver in particular was a little frail, but the perfect gentleman. And as I was screening the work I’d done on an episode of Bagpuss, he started doing the voices. I got chills, I tell you. Professor Yaffle, sitting right next to me.
As he gives a big yawn and settles down to sleep, I’ll leave you with a little clip that sums up everything I’ve always loved about Smallfilm.
A converstaion with a workmate led to the conclusion that not everyone feels the way that I do about Smallfilm. She hates Postgate’s stuff, specifically his voice, which she said “creeps me the fuck out.”
Like I said, atmospheric.