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Added on 25th June 2020

Created by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate
First shown 1974, BBC 1
Production company Smallfilms

The delightful animated stories for young children of "the most important, the most beautiful, the most magical saggy old cloth cat in the world".

Story

Bagpuss, the title character, is 'a saggy, old cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams'. In each episode a little girl called Emily leaves a broken or lost toy that she has found in the window of her shop so that the owners can come and find them. When Emily leaves, the other toys led by Bagpuss come to life and mend the lost and broken toy whilst telling a story about it and singing a song.

Why we chose it

Although only 13 episodes of Bagpuss were made, the series was frequently repeated from its first broadcast in 1974 through until 1987. In 1999, Bagpuss was voted the UK's favourite children's TV programme. The distinctive visual style of the series is creating by using a blend of still photography, illustration and stop motion animation. Each episode follows the same format, starting with sepia photographs with Emily before becoming full colour with stop motion animation once the toys come to life.

Where it came from

Most of the stories have links to other fairy tales from around the world. The songs are also based on existing folk songs, with the 'We Will Fix It' song of the Mice referencing the 13th century round 'Sumer is Icumen In'. The songs are performed by established folk musicians Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner.

The little girl Emily in the sepia photographs is played by Peter Firmin's daughter Emily. Madeleine, the rag doll, was based on a nightdress cover originally made by Firmin's wife and Gabriel the banjo-playing toad was inspired by a real toad that lived in the basement of Oliver Postgate's flat. Professor Yaffle, the wooden bookend carved as a woodpecker was apparently based on the philosopher Bertrand Russell whom Oliver Postgate once met.

Where it went next

In 1993 the episodes were released in video format and as a DVD in 2005 (rereleased 2015). In 2002 and 2005 the songs from Bagpuss were adapted for a touring show around UK folk festivals. In 2010 Jonathan Lloyd adapted the series for a staged co-production between Birmingham Stage Company and Soho Theatre.

Associated stories

Bagpuss followed on from the success of Firmin and Postgate's other collaborations including Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Pogles Wood and The Clangers.

Added on 25th June 2020

Created by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate
First shown 1974, BBC 1
Production company Smallfilms