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Bagpuss

“Bagpuss, oh Bagpuss, old fat furry catpuss…” Bagpuss is a children's television programme made by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, through their production company, Smallfilms. With 13 episodes originally aired on BBC1 in 1974, it has since been repeated on television and has been released on video and DVD.

Bagpuss and friends

Bagpuss is a saggy old cloth cat, and although the programme is named after him, he doesn't have a prominent role. However, he does have magical powers and his thoughts are shown in a bubble above his head.

Throughout the 13 programmes, the characters are seen fixing or mending something. The opening sequence begins with a young girl called Emily who owns a shop, in an old-fashioned scene resembling the early 20th century. Things that need to be fixed or mended are displayed in the shop window (usually items that people may have lost), although nothing is ever sold as such. Emily always begins by reciting a poem to wake Bagpuss up, although she doesn't actually appear in the stories.

As Bagpuss awakens, so do all the other characters in the programme - the footage then changes from sepia to colour.

Professor Yaffle is a wooden, bookend woodpecker who is proud and knowledgeable and frequently moving about. Although rather aloof, his more sensitive and emotional side is portrayed in the 'Ballet Shoe' episode, where he dances with the Marvellous Mechanical Prima Ballerina, thus making it one of the favourite episodes with viewers. Professor Yaffle only takes the role of main storyteller in two of the episodes, 'The Wise Man' and 'Flying'.

The six mice and their Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ are the main characters in the programme, and they're often singing and playing tricks on Professor Yaffle. When told to stop singing in the 'Ballet Shoe' episode, the mice go on strike. One of the most popular episodes in the series is 'The Mouse Mill', where the mice play a trick on Professor Yaffle by convincing him they've invented a biscuit-making device.

Other characters in Bagpuss include Gabriel Croaker, a toad who plays a banjo and lives on top of a tin on a shelf, and a rag doll called Madeleine who sits in a wicker chair and tells stories.

Each episode was made using stop-frame animation. The only character who does not move with stop-frame animation is Gabriel the toad, as it would've proved too time-consuming to create scenes using this method when he played the banjo and sung. Instead, a mechanism in the tin can Gabriel sits on was used to help control and move him.

Bagpuss continues to delight children and it even ranked as the UK's favourite children's TV programme in 1999 in a BBC poll… "and Emily loved him!”

With a cat, woodpecker, toad and some mice featuring in Bagpuss, it's certainly a programme that appeals to animal lovers. If you own animals and you want to improve their health and comfort, the high quality range of animal matting products from Coruba is a must.



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