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«Noggin the Nog»
Oliver Postgate is the creator and writer of some of the most popular children's television programmes ever seen in Britain. Pogle's Wood, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Bagpuss, were all made by Smallfilms, the company he set up with Peter Firmin, and shown on the BBC between the 1950s and the 1970s. In a 1999 poll, Bagpuss was voted most popular children's programme of all time.
His father was Raymond Postgate and his mother Daisy Lansbury, making him the grandson of Labour politician, George Lansbury; some of whose principles he inherited, to the extent that he was prepared to go to prison as a conscientious objector during World War II. As his father had done, in 1916.
Subsequently he did a number of different jobs, never really finding his niche until he entered into a collaboration with Firmin, who built most of the models used in the various animations. Setting up their business in a disused cowshed, Postgate and Firmin worked on children's programmes based on concepts and scripts which mostly originated with Postgate. He was also the narrator for all the Smallfilms productions, and his distinctive voice became familiar to generations of children.
Peter Firmin was the founder of Smallfilms, along with Oliver Postgate. Between them they created Ivor the Engine, The Clangers, Bagpuss and Pogle's Wood. Most of the animating was done in a shed in Kent. He is also an illustrator, for instance he illustrated Seeing Things Oliver's autobiography. His daughter Charlotte is also an illustrator. Peter also co-created, with Ivan Owen, British TV puppet legend Basil Brush in 1963.
Noggin the Nog was a popular British children's television series originally shown by the BBC during the years 1959 to 1965. Thirty programmes were made, originally in black and white, by a company called Smallfilms, the brainchild of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. The level of animation was basic, but this did not detract from the popularity of the series.
Strictly speaking, the title is "The Saga of Noggin the Nog", since the stories were based on the principle of a Norse saga, and every episode began with the words, "Listen to me and I will tell you the story of Noggin the Nog, as it was told in the days of old..." This, combined with Vernon Elliott's haunting bassoon score, conveyed a slightly "creepy" atmosphere, which children found a little frightening and consequently even more exciting. Visually, it was primarily inspired by the Lewis chessmen (of Norse origin).
The stories were based around the central character of Noggin, a rather simple, good-natured prince. In the early episodes, he married an Eskimo princess, Nooka, and they had a son, Knut, who came to the fore in some of the later episodes. Other regular characters were Noggin's friend, Thor Nogson, an eccentric inventor, Olaf the Lofty, and a big green bird called Graculus whose origins were slightly obscure. Although the individual stories varied, any trouble encountered by the heroes was usually caused by Nogbad the Bad, Noggin's wicked uncle who wanted the throne for himself.
Various Noggin short stories were also published, and a visitor in one of them, Noggin and the Moon Mouse, later provided the basis for the characters in the popular Clangers TV series.
Great Britain, 1994, Noggin the Nog
Great Britain, 1996, The Clangers
Great Britain, 1994.02.01, Canterbury. Noggin The Nog
Great Britain, 1996.09.03, Blean. Clangers