JOUR­NEY BACK TO YOUR AND CHILD­HOOD DIS­COVER SOME OLD FRIENDS

A ma­jor new ret­ro­spec­tive look­ing at the some of our favourite chil­dren’s TV shows such as The Clangers and Bag­puss opens this week­end. An­gela Cole found out more.

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - What's On - - FRONT PAGE -

Step into Siss­inghurst Cas­tle this win­ter and you’ll be trans­ported back to your child­hood. Chil­dren’s TV favourites from a gen­er­a­tion (or so) ago are go­ing on dis­play in a spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion that has its roots firmly planted in Kent. The Clangers, Bag­puss and other well known char­ac­ters in­clud­ing Nog­gin the Nog, who were all cre­ated in a dis­used cow­shed near Can­ter­bury, are part of the Clangers, Bag­puss & Co. Ex­hi­bi­tion, or­gan­ised by the V&A Mu­seum of Child­hood.

The tour­ing ret­ro­spec­tive comes

to the Na­tional Trust prop­erty in Siss­inghurst as its only stop in Kent.

Telling the story of much-loved fam­ily TV favourites from the 1960s and 1970s, it will fea­ture Bag­puss, the old fat furry cat, the mys­te­ri­ous Soup Dragon from The Clangers and ad­ven­tur­ous Nog­gin the Nog as well as tak­ing vis­i­tors be­hind the scenes to re­veal some of the se­crets be­hind such pro­grammes as Ivor the En­gine and Pogles’ Wood. The char­ac­ters came from the cre­ative ge­nius of pup­peteers Peter Firmin and Oliver Post­gate, who worked to­gether on an­i­mated chil­dren’s TV pro­grammes from 1959 un­til the 1980s through their com­pany, Small­films, in a barn at Blean, shap­ing the child­hood mem­o­ries of mil­lions. Peter’s con­nec­tion to Siss­inghurst also ex­tends back through the decades, as the il­lus­tra­tor of some of Vita Sackville-west’s poetry too.

As well as the pup­pets, the ex­hi­bi­tion will fea­ture orig­i­nal sets and film­ing equip­ment. It will tell the story of the char­ac­ters’ de­vel­op­ment, un­cov­er­ing how the pair es­tab­lished their stopframe an­i­ma­tion tech­niques. From Watch with Mother in the 1960s to 21st cen­tury Cbee­bies, Small­film’s en­dear­ing char­ac­ters and cap­ti­vat­ing imag­i­nary worlds have been sta­ples of chil­dren’s tele­vi­sion across the globe. The Clangers even re­turned to the small screen in 2015 to be en­joyed by a new gen­er­a­tion.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also fea­tures archive footage – some of it not seen for decades – sets and sto­ry­boards, photos, scripts and film­ing equip­ment, all set in a play­ful re­cre­ation of Oliver and Peter’s film stu­dio.

Cu­ra­tor Alice Sage said: “We all hold a spe­cial place in our hearts for one or more of Small­films’ cre­ations. Be­yond telling mar­vel­lous, cap­ti­vat­ing sto­ries, Peter Firmin and Oliver Post­gate’s work en­cour­aged chil­dren to look at the world with cu­rios­ity.

“Oliver’s dis­tinc­tive voice as nar­ra­tor never spoke down to the young au­di­ence and they weren’t afraid of deal­ing with com­plex ideas in a mag­i­cal way. The sto­ries have stood the test of time.

“As well as look­ing at how these pro­grammes were made, we also hope to cap­ture the spirit of these time­less gems.”

Vis­i­tors can see Oliver’s stop-mo­tion film cam­era, adapted us­ing a small mo­tor and bits of Mec­cano, learn why Bag­puss changed from or­ange to pink, and find out what Ma­jor Clanger was re­ally say­ing from orig­i­nal shoot­ing scripts.

They can also try their hand at an­i­mat­ing the char­ac­ters us­ing cur­rent tech­nol­ogy.

LOVEABLE BAG­PUSS Saggy old cloth­cat Bag­puss was loved by Emily – and is still loved by many.

This year he was named among the 100 Ob­jects That Made Kent, real ob­jects from the county’s past cho­sen by mu­seum cu­ra­tors from across the county and lo­cal school­child­ren.

He is ar­guably one of the most fa­mous res­i­dents at Can­ter­bury Mu­se­ums & Gal­leries where he is on per­ma­nent dis­play. Sup­ported by Arts Coun­cil Eng­land, you can take a look at the ob­jects cho­sen by vis­it­ing 100ob­jectskent.co.uk.

The Clangers and Nog­gin the Nog will all be fea­tur­ing in the ex­hi­bi­tion

The tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tion will be vis­it­ing Siss­inghurst Cas­tle Pic­ture: The Na­tional Trust / David Sell­man

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