Monday 11 April 2016

The Bony King of Nowhere

So many public figures today remind me of this lovely song, a childhood memory from the never-fading Bagpuss.  It's performed by Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner.

Only thirteen episodes of Bagpuss were made, and originally broadcast between February and May 1974, at lunchtimes as I recall. At the age of 14 I was really too old to be part of the programme's target audience but recognised quality when I saw it and loved (and continue to love) the voice of the narrator Oliver Postgate. I've watched all the episodes many times with my own son. 

Postgate (a figure in children's' literature without peer) and the animator Peter Firmin collaborated as Smallfilms to produce a substantial body of work, all of it enchanting - Pogle's Wood! Clangers! Noggin the Nog!  Ivor the Engine! But Bagpuss was the best of the lot.

Bagpuss himself was "a saggy, old cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams', but his owner, Emily, loved him. He lived in the window of a junk shop with some other chums - a rag doll (Madeleine), a banjo-pluclking frog (Gabriel), a pedantic wooden woodpecker (Professor Yaffle, whose voice Postgate reportedly based on that of Bertrand Russell) and, of course, the irritating mice decorating the mouse organ. At the start of each episode Bagpuss would be awoken from his slumbers by Emily with this rhyme:

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old Fat Furry Catpuss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing

After which a mystery object would be introduced, usually in poor condition, donnishly identified by Yaffle then carefully restored by the mice singing a roundelay ("We will fix it! We will fix it'). The stories would follow,  told by Postgate and accompanied by traditional songs, usually performed by Kerr and Faulkener..

Watch a full episode of Bagpuss called The Owls of Athens (a particular favourite) Rich and strange, and perfect in its way.

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