Pooch says 'Welcome to Toonhound!'Toonhound logo

     ...cartoon links reviews interviews and news from the UK!  Union Jack


  british toon
  news & chatter
  animated films
  & shorts

  animated series

  animation studios

  & people

  string, hand
  & finger puppets

  characters, strips
  & comic books

  british animators
  & illustrators



  Click here for Frankie Stein... Click here for Fungus...
   Click here for Bunty...  Click here for Wallace...





Frank and his friends are at ToonsToGo!



 Toon Gods
The Hound gets all religious...
  Oliver Postgate - Toon God  

   Saluting the co-creator of Bagpuss,
   The Clangers and many more small wonders...



   Small wonders...     SmallFilms credits...      Oliver on the web...


   Small Wonders

   'Bagpuss', 'The Clangers', 'Noggin The Nog', 'Ivor The Engine' - just four of
   the fabulous childrens series conceived and animated by Oliver Postgate
   and his SmallFilms partner, the camera-shy Peter Firmin. Working from their
   converted cow shed in Canterbury, Oliver and Peter imbued their 'small' films
   with much melancholy and musing. The budgets were minimal, the animation
   minimalist (cutouts for 'Ivor' and 'Noggin', simple stop-frame for 'The Clangers',
   and 'Bagpuss' ) but the stories were timeless and each little world uniquely
   realized. These films still hold their heads up high above the technical,
   overblown kids shows of today.

   Oliver was the writer and director for most of the films, sharing animation duties
   with Peter, and narrating them too. Then there were the tie-in books, the TV-Land
   comic strips and annuals. In all SmallFilms were in production for twenty five years,
   spanning generations, filling the BBC's 5.30pm slot just before the news, or the
   lunch time slot just after it, or repeated during those long Summer Holiday mornings
   until the mid-80s, when 'The Powers That Be' deemed them too old-fashioned and
   out of touch with their modern audience.

   SmallFilms was put to bed in 1985, but the enduring popularity of their series filtered
   through the populance, like some steady drip, drip, dripping of nostalgia until at last,
   in 1999 the floodgates opened. That was the year 'Bagpuss' was voted the most
   popular children's program of all time. A swathe of tie-in licensed products were
   launched and our 'Bagpuss' - old fat furry sagpuss - became a High Street star.
   Nostalgia was 'in', and incredibly, the SmallFilms' oeuvre was at the head of the
   Gold Rush.
   Oliver Postgate himself is a fascinating character. His autobiography 'Seeing
   Things' makes for most affecting reading. Here is a truly old-fashioned, gentleman
   and artist and actor who seems to have stumbled into animation wholly by accident.
   He's your favourite madcap Uncle, almost Heath Robinson like in his passion for
   invention and design and creation. He despairs of those who analyse and study his
   films in academia, as if it is some exacting science. Indeed, during a mis-guided
   stint as a Film School Lecturer in  Western Australia he was moved to say:

      'I know how I choose the shots I take. I know how all of
      the directors I work with chose their shots. They chose them
      because they looked right....'

   And that's the crux of his and Peter's success as film makers. There was no
   Great Plan, no Grand Concept spanning the media. The stories simply evolved
   in to the right format. Everything 'felt right' then, and still feels just-so today.

   In those intervening years between SmallFilms of the past and SmallFilms now
   Mr Postgate has occupied his mind with such weighty affairs as theology and
   nuclear disarmament. He has produced at least three provocative pamphlets for the
   Quakers and a short film, 'Life On Earth Perhaps' which included a direct message
   to the UNA. You can see the thought processes behind his stance developing even
   as far back as1969, in 'The Clangers'. Each of those films deals with a deeper issue
   about our own world. We are asked to look closely at the Clangers' tiny moon and
   see just how they behave when influenced by the affairs of man...       

   And Oliver has since looked even deeper into the celestial firmament. In 1988 he
   and his partner Naomi were invited to create a fifty-four-foot long illumination of the
   life and death of Thomas Beckett for Kingfisher Books. This was followed by a
   second vast illumination, The Discovery Of America by Christopher Columbus.
   In 1992
Kent Universty asked Oliver to produce a extensive mural depicting The
   Canterbury Chronicle. Nowadays he contemplates the world from his Broadstairs
   home and seems genuinely touched by the enduring appeal of his creations.
   How ironic that these simple little stop-frame worlds and stories have now spawned
   best-selling DVDs and CD-ROMs!

   You know, Oliver and Peter bottled lightning in that shed of theirs. Their films
   feel so warm, so comfortable, like a favourite pair of slippers or a fireside chair.
   And many, many folks around the world continue to love them...


Grolliffe The Ice Dragon from Noggin And The Ice Dragon - detail from a 1984 Royal Mail Stampbook 1994

Alexander The Mouse (1958)
The Journey Of Master Ho (1959)
Ivor The Engine (1958-1963)
The Seal Of Neptune (1960)
The Pingwings (1960-1964)
The Dogwatch (1960)
The Sagas Of
Noggin The Nog (1959-1965)
The Pogles (1964)
Pogles Wood (1965)

The Clangers (1969-1971)
Little Laura (1970)
Sam On Boff's Island (1973)
Bagpuss (1973-1974)
Vote For Froglet (1974)
Ivor The Engine (1975-1977)
Noggin The Nog (1979-1980)
What-A-Mess (1980)
Tottie (1982-1983)
Pinny's House (1985)


      On the web

        The official site, and a mighty fine starting point with a potted
        history, links to a number of Smallfilms creations, and a page
        of fab 'behind the scenes' pics of Oliver and Peter at work...

Oliver Postgate

        Bagpuss introduces pages about his creator and mentor...

        This Is Brighton And Hove
        A rather jolly interview with Oliver, conducted in his Broadstairs
        home. Well worth a read...

        The Clangers
        And this here is a handy little thesis page on The Clangers.
        It's text only, but it's a thoughtful piece detailing the little
        whistlers' lives...


                                                         TOON GODS  Next...     
© SmallFilms / F2000-2003