Bagpuss (BBC2, 1974)
I don’t usually like to review children’s TV shows from the 60s and 70s, as they were from long before I came along, but this one featured in repeat runs for such a long time that this has ended up meaning a lot to generations of younger viewers, not just the ones who were lucky enough to watch this first time round. This was a stop-motion animated show, from the same team behind The Clangers and Ivor The Engine.
This is the series that featured Bagpuss, the saggy old pink-and-white cloth cat, who lives in a shop seemingly a rather long time ago alongside several other characters. There were also Madeleine the doll, Gabriel the toad, along with several mice, and Professor Yaffle, the rather old and clever woodpecker. Every edition would follow the same format.
Bagpuss would do a big yawn, and all of the characters would suddenly come to life. None of the toys that I had on my shelf when I was younger ever came to life, well as far as I know. There would be in item that was broken. Professor Yaffle would determine what it was, and the mice would fix it while the toad performed a song, and Bagpuss looked on with wonder.
All of this would usually be accompanied by an animated sequence featuring a story. And when this was done, everybody went back to sleep. It’s surprise to realise that there were only 13 episodes of Bagpuss, as they were repeated frequently on the BBC into the mid-80s, and I’m fairly sure that they’ve also been repeated on Channel 4 and several other channels since.
I think that Bagpuss also appeared in an exhibition at a museum not too far from where I live, well I presume that it was the real one, everyone would’ve been starstruck. It has faded a little, and the legs have started to come loose… and I can’t imagine what Bagpuss looks like now (applause). I have a little toy one myself which is rather adorable.
All of the episodes have been released on VHS and DVD, there have been several books, and apparently this was also once voted the best children’s TV show in the world ever. When trying to find out more, I saw the phrase “there is much banter between the characters”, so I presume that in more recent years they have all gone on to host the breakfast show on a local radio station.