Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Farewell to the imaginer of childhood dreams

Today, as I was driving in to work, I heard that Oliver Postgate had died. As a child of the 1970s, I was brought up with many of his creations. The Pogles of Pogle's Wood taught me about table manners (or rather, how not to hold my knife and fork). I got my passion for reading from our family's fortnightly visits to the library, where I read the sagas of Noggin the Nog. I avidly watched Ivor the Engine and Bagpuss (where I first found out what a butterbean was). And best of all, those knitted extra-terrestrials - the Clangers.

With the Clangers, I learnt about the important things in life. Mischief, blue string pudding, dustbin lids. And environmentalism - even in the early '70s, Postgate used to compare the dirty factories on earth to the carefully nurtured environment of the Clanger's home world. I was slightly scared of the scolding soup dragon. And I shared the fears of
Small Clanger when he became lost in the caves beneath the surface of the planet - I cried as he folded his ears over his eyes, as I cried when the Hamish pincushion went back to his lost tribe in a story in Bagpuss. I'm almost welling up thinking about it now. Such are our lives shaped.

But Oliver Postgate was also a political creature. Grandson of the Labour politician George Lansbury, he was a conscientious objector, spending time in prison because of this. He continued to write political commentary up until recent years. If you're a fan, read his autobiography 'Seeing Things' - a story of a fascinating life, including when he was summoned to the head of Children's Programming at the BBC who wanted to censor The Clangers, as Major Clanger had clearly sworn.

Oliver Postgate - you will be sadly missed but cherished in the hearts of a myriad of children, both young and old.

8 comments:

patientgardener said...

I felt very sad this morning as well. His voice was such a big part of my childhood.

My mother loved Pogles so much she has called her last few houses Pogles.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

I had not heard of him before but his books sound wonderful. Must see if I can find them here as I still read children's books. One of my fave writers is Diana Wynne Jones.

Your post is a lovely memorial to a very special person who has made so many British children happy.

Anna said...

Oh what a sad loss and what an enormous contribution he made to broadcasting. I grew up before the advent of colour television but can still vividly recall 'The Saga of Noggin the Nog' with its magical flying ship. Marvellous stuff. I will look out for his autobiography which sounds as if it will be a most interesting read.

VP said...

Oooooooh :(

NAH and I have just had a major reminisce about this. We've had a set of running gags for 26 years based on Ivor the Engine and NAH loved Noggin the Nog. I loved Bagpuss and the Clangers too, especially the Soup Dragon and the Mouse Organ.

easygardener said...

Ivor the Engine and the Clangers were my favourites...good times!

Trisha xx said...

It was sad news yesterday, I loved the Clangers the best and was delighted when my kids liked bagpuss as much as me, despite the competition from today's cgi wizardry.

Lucy said...

For years I thought Nogin the Nog was educational - a true history of a Viking (or someone).

Then, for years, I assumed Oliver Postgate had died. Then I heard him on the radio a few times, realised he had not . . . and began to imagine he would not.

That voice . . .

Lucy

Nutty Gnome said...

I felt quite saddened by Oliver Postgate's death - a bit like a favourite uncle dying.

My teenager daughters bought me a Clangers DVD last Christmas - and it was still as good as I'd remembered it to be. Blue string soup....!