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Bagpuss

 

 

In the early 70's John Faulkner and his co-writer Sandra Kerr were asked to write the songs and music for a children's TV series called Bagpuss. Twelve 15 minute programmes of animated puppets based around a legendary fluffly cat called Bagpuss and created for the BBC by the masters of animated puppetry at the time; Oliver Postgate and Peter Fermin. 


The series ran and ran, was hugely popular and was repeated for over a decade. So much so that twenty years later Channel Four bought the rights from the BBC for another ten years. 

In Britain it was voted the best children's TV show of all time. In a new international listing of the greatest TV cult series ever made, compiled to mark the release of the reference book "The Penguin Television Companion" it was voted 20th being beaten by the likes of "Doctor Who", "Star Trek", "Monthy Python" and  
"The Simpsons". 


There is a CD available "The Songs and Music from Bagpuss" (Fellside Records - www.fellside.com). 
DVDs of the series are available. Information from the Bagpuss website, www.smallfilms.co.uk/bagpuss/

 

BEST OF BRITISH: Bagpuss - From Sunday Times

Created by the narrator Oliver Postgate and the artist Peter Firmin, the pink-and-cream-striped cloth cat Bagpuss first appeared on BBC in 1974. With Madeleine the rag dog, Gabriel the toad, the wooden woodpecker Professor Yaffle and numerous mice, Bagpuss fixed objects brought by Emily (played by Firmin's daughter) into the shop where he lived. Only 13 episodes were made, but they were shown 27 times until 1987, when the BBC decided the series was too old-fashioned. Yet in a BBC nationwide poll in 1999 Bagpuss was voted the best children's programme ever made, and has since enjoyed a revival. That year Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner (the voices of Madeleine and Gabriel) released a CD with music from the series. The programme is still shown, and you can buy Bagpuss videos, cuddly toys, mugs, mobile phone covers and watches.

Cat that got the cream of British music - From Sunday Times
The music from Bagpuss is a reminder that England has its own version of Delta blues - folk music

There will have been one of two reactions when you saw the photo alongside this piece, either "Dear Lord, who left Edward Heath inder the grill?" or "Bagpuss! Fat furry cat-puss! Wake up! Be light! Be golden and bright! I must give you an old ballet shoe to wonder about." Because if you are under 35, Bagpuss (1.45pm, Mon-fri, 1973-85) was to paraphrase Bono's eulogy to Patti Smith at the Q Awards, two years ago, "our father, our brother, our lover, our muse".

Bagpuss recently whupped Muffin the Mule's ass in a Most Popular Children's TV Show Ever BBC Poll, and little surprise: squatting in front of the tellymuching on jam sandwiches, all five and phlegmy, your happiness was assured as soon as Bagpuss opened his eyes and the world turned from black and white into colour.

But bless him, it wasn't Bagpuss that made Bagpuss great - he spent most of his time blinking, yawning, and bemusedly repeating things like a sleepy old nan. Nor was it the crusty old woodpecker, Professor Yaffle, the mumsy Madeline or the boring toad, Gabriel that made our hearts sing so. It was the mice of the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ - the greatest Greek chorus of all time: a gaggle of wilding children who were forever seeking ways to invent a Chocolate Biscuit Machine, or falling into rotten Stilton and washing themselves in orange squash. They sang in shrill rounds as they mended each week's mystery object: and made the hitherto unnoticed observation that porcupines are alway single for: "Poor old pines, they must not mingle." And it is they that make the news that a Bagpuss album is released this week - the twentysomething equivalent of the Velevt Underground reunion.

Anyone of an age to have been affected by pixie boots mat well find tears stinging their eyes when they hear the familiar shrill refrain of "We will find it/We will bind it/We will stick it with glue glue glue/We will stickle it/Every little bit of it/We fix it like new new new." And the fact that you can have this song on a CD, in your house, along with the Bony King of Nowhere and Uncle Feedle and the nine seconds long Ragtime Mice, may well prompt you to sit in front of your stereo thinking: "My God, I thought I was being quite avant-garde listening to Stereolab and the Beta Band, but I never has screwier ears, than when I was five. I was brought up on psychotic folk music sung by mice".