Four Decades of Warm Fuzzies

Animation Magazine - - Anniversaries -

While new an­i­ma­tion mega-fran­chises emerge from slick stu­dio pro­duc­tions each year, most peo­ple keep a ten­der place in their heart for those old clas­sics with rough edges for their time­less charm and lov­ing hand-crafts­man­ship. One of the U.K.’s most trea­sured char­ac­ters, in fact, cel­e­brates its 40th an­niver­sary this year: Peter Firmin and Oliver Post­gate’s Bag­puss. The pink and white, some­what ragged stuffed cat starred in a short-lived but well re­mem­bered se­ries on BBC in 1974, in which he and his stop-mo­tion pals came to life in a shop run by a lit­tle girl named Emily to pon­der over what­ever in­ter­est­ing ob­ject she had left in their dis­play win­dow.

Firmin and Post­gate’s stu­dio Small­films, founded in 1959, also pro­duced Bri­tish kids clas­sics The Clangers, Nog­gin the Nog and Ivor the En­gine— all of which, along with Bag­puss, are now un­der the stew­ard­ship of Lon­don­based Coolabi. The stu­dios’ cur­rent lead­er­ship—Small­films’ Daniel Post­gate and Coolabi’s Jeremy Banks—say that Bag­puss re­mains their most fa­mous char­ac­ter. Years af­ter it went off air, Bag­puss has topped a BBC poll of fa­vorite kids’ shows (1999), in­spired a mu­si­cal stage show (2002 and 2005), amassed over 50 li­censees and even in­flu­enced a Ra­dio­head al­bum. But Bag­puss’ new own­ers be­lieve his great­est con­tri­bu­tion is his hon­orary wing at the Hospice of Hope in Brasov, Ro­ma­nia, which was paid for by Oliver Post­gate out of roy­al­ties.

With many years of mem­o­rable his­tory be­hind them—from the in­ven­tive Oliver’s de­vel­op­ment of a so­lar heat­ing sys­tem in the ‘70s to a chaotic Clangers set event in­volv­ing a rocket launch scene, the Clangers planet and some unan­tic­i­pated flamma­bil­ity—the Coolabi crew show no signs of slow­ing down. In ad­di­tion to new prop­er­ties like Poppy Cat, the stu­dio is busy rein­vent­ing Post­gate’s clas­sics for a new gen­er­a­tion, with a fresh take on Clangers for CBeebies and Sprout set for 2015. Though his air­time was short, Bag­puss lives on with fans young and old: “...just an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams. But Emily loved him.” www.coolabi.com | www.small­films.co.uk

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