Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate obituary

Oliver Postgate, creator of some of the best-loved children's TV including Bagpuss, Ivor The Engine and The Clangers, has died at the age of 83.

On the day that the Guild will be joining other entertainment unions to lobby MPs to save children's TV, it's worth reflecting on just how many young imaginations Postgate's creations have delighted over the years.

As BBC News reports, getting series greenlit used to be quite straightforward.
Describing the commissioning process, Mr Postgate said: "We would go to the BBC once a year, show them the films we'd made, and they would say, 'Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?'"

"We would tell them, and they would say, 'That sounds fine, we'll mark it in for 18 months from now', and we would be given praise and encouragement and some money in advance, and we'd just go away and do it."
Elsewhere on BBC News, there's a full obituary.
Their [Postagte and Peter Firmin, who did the artwork] work took on a decidedly surreal edge with the Clangers, pink creatures with pointed noses who lived on a blue moon with a friendly soup dragon, and spoke in whistles.

Postgate and another actor did their voices with Swanee whistles, after Postgate had painstakingly written out every word of the script.

The original dialogue was virtually indecipherable, which didn't stop Postgate getting into trouble when a BBC executive correctly divined that for one clanger he'd written the line: "Oh sod it, the bloody thing won't open".

Update (10.12.2008): In The Guardian there are numerous tributes to Postgate, including from writer Michael Rosen.
He was one of the great storytellers on television. It's actually very hard to tell stories well on television, for the rather obvious reason that the audience is not physically there. He was able to do that. What was also extraordinary was that he did it in very different ways, across very different formats.

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