Happy 50th Birthday, Bagpuss! A chance to celebrate, in a good cause, new merchandise and more

Bagpuss celebrates his 50th birthday today, Monday 12th February marking the stop-motion series, centred on a  “saggy old cloth cat” and his friends, was first broadcast on the BBC back in 1974. Several celebratory happenings have been laid on to mark this milestone – including some in aid of a good cause, Hospices of Hope, too.

Just 13 episodes of the iconic Smallfilms animation were created by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, but the programme was so popular that the series was repeated endlessly to successive generations. The furry cat-puss has charmed his way into the hearts and minds of us all and several spin-off books were published, beginning with The Bagpuss Annual, in 1974 – and today, plenty of tie-in merchandise.

Smallfilms kept a tight artistic control over the appearance of their content in comics, the appearances of their many characters in titles such as Pippin detailed in this PDF guide on the Smallfilms website.

Bagpuss 1974 Annual

The family of the creators of Bagpuss feel today that the BBC “were mistaken” about the show’s enduring appeal as the cat character celebrates 50 years. Oliver Postgate’s son, Daniel, who helped revive The Clangers back in 2015, says he hopes that a radio play, which he is working on and focuses on a grown-up Emily, the little girl who owns the shop in Bagpuss, will be made.

“I’ve got a few people, who are actors who are interested in being involved, so Stephen Fry was interested and Simon Callow, so hopefully, touch wood, that might come off in one form or another, if not on the radio, there may be as a podcast, but time will tell on that one.”

Bagpuss Events: Mischief at the Museum: 50 years of Bagpuss, and talks by Simon Postgate

Mischief at the Museum - Bagpuss at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury (2024)

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury is currently hosting The Smallfilms Gallery until April, renamed in honour of the studio, a family gallery showcasing work by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate who created their iconic children’s programmes from their studio near Canterbury. The “Mischief at the Museum: 50 years of Bagpuss” exhibition features the original Bagpuss and many of the original film props.

Bagpuss at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge in Canterbury

Simon Postgate is giving a series of six talks about Smallfilms at The Horsebridge in Whitstable, starting on Wednesday 14th February through to April.

Join Simon as he talks about much-loved children’s television shows such as Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and The Clangers co-created by his father, Oliver Postgate, along with Peter Firmin.

Simon was growing up at the time the programmes were made and so has a personal insight into the process and ideas that went into their creation. Each talk costs £10, with places limited, so book here soon.

Win Bagpuss! In a Good Cause…

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bagpuss, Hospices of Hope is asking fans to host your own Bagpuss Bash this February. Make a difference to the charity by raising more than £50 for children with rare and terminal illnesses cared for in the Bagpuss Children’s Wing.

Anyone who raises or donates over £50 to Hospices of Hope will be entered into a draw to win a once-in-a-life-time prize of a signed original Bagpuss lino print by Peter Firmin, a meet-and-greet with Emily and Bagpuss at the Beaney Museum in Canterbury, and one of the limited edition Bagpuss crafted by Steiff in celebration of his 50th birthday, worth over £200.

Sign up now and grab your party ‘pack,’ complete with invitations, bunting, cake flags, and more – it’s all ready for download!

Hospices of Hope is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting the development of palliative and end of life care in South and East Europe. Their vision is for all patients suffering from terminal or life-limiting illnesses to have access to specialist hospice care services, free of charge – because everyone deserves to live and die with dignity and without pain.

Bagpuss continues his role as the charity’s mascot, a role he’s held since 2002, when Oliver Postgate donated Bagpuss’ ‘pocket money’ to fund a specialist children’s wing at its Romanian partner hospice. Hospices of Hope will be celebrating Bagpuss’ birthday with a range of events including its own Bagpuss Bash, a Bagpuss Bikeathon, family walks and more.

“Who would have believed that Bagpuss would still be such a super star 50 years later?” says Emily Firmin, the daughter of Peter Firmin, who features in the opening credits of the iconic show. “I’m very proud of the fact that Bagpuss has supported The Hospices of Hope since 2002 and I will be visiting its hospital in Romania this year, to paint a mural with some of the children.”

Bagpuss: Merchandise

International media group and rights Bagpuss owner Coolabi has licensed a range of new collectible products from commemorative 50ps and stamps, to plush and crafts, to mark the moment

The remastered show was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2023 by Fabulous Films, a long standing UK/US distributor specialising in classic and cult television, and is available to stream on Britbox and ITVX, plus iTunes, Amazon and more.

Bagpuss - The Complete Series (2023)

Marking the anniversary, leading distributors of collectible coins and stamps, The Westminster Collection, have released a brand new collection of five 50p coins in base metal and sterling silver. The reverse features one of the characters from the show, each with a relevant quote that fans of the show will remember dearly.

Bagpuss Westminster Collection 50p Coins

Guernsey Post will issue a set of four commemorative stamps, on 25th July, for the island of Alderney, which is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a Crown Dependency. The stamps will feature Bagpuss and his friends and will carry King Charles III’s Royal Cypher. The range of collectibles will include souvenir sheets, first day covers and a presentation pack.

Rainbow Designs has launched a new range of Bagpuss plush toys, including a brightly coloured Yawning Soft Toy that lets out a big yawn upon squeezing his head.

Rainbow Designs Bagpuss Yawining Toy

Bagpuss – The 50th Anniversary Edition, is a special edition Steiff Bagpuss exclusive to Danbury Mint. Available to pre-order now, this limited edition piece ships in April 2024.

Bagpuss – The 50th Anniversary Edition by Steiff

Practical Publishing have released a Bagpuss collection available at CraftStash, featuring cutting dies, printed papers and toppers that will allow card makers and crafters to create inspirational projects whilst capturing the nostalgia and fun of the series.

Practical Publishing - Bagpuss Topper & Paper Pack Perfect Bagpuss Background

Fran Huxley, Coolabi Group, said: “Bagpuss is a charming, quintessentially British brand that captures the hearts and minds of people across the world. We are delighted to wish Smallfilms’ magical saggy old cloth cat a very happy 50th Anniversary and to have such a wonderful range of collectibles out this year to mark this lovely occasion.”

Coolabi: Bagpuss Page

Bagpuss on Facebook | Bagpuss on X

The Horsebridge: Smallfilms Talks by Simon Postgate

BBC: The History of Bagpuss

The I: Bagpuss at 50: The show that revolutionised children’s TV

Instead of cheerful ‘Play School’ reassurance, Julia Raeside feels, ‘Bagpuss’ offered a curious unease, stories with no obvious moral postscript, music played on uncommon instruments

A Bagpuss page from Pippin, which replaced another Smallfims series, Pogles Wood" in the nursery title, in June 1974
A Bagpuss page from Pippin, which replaced another Smallfims series, Pogles Wood” in the nursery title, in June 1974

The History of Smallfilms in Comics (PDF)

Some Smallfilms-inspired stories in British comics and nursery titles, often illustrated by Peter Firmin himself, were instrumental in inspiring future TV and book projects that we came to know and love

Beyond Bagpuss: A History of Smallfilms Animation Studio by Chris Pallant

Beyond Bagpuss: A History of Smallfilms Animation Studio by Chris Pallant (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Ivor the EngineNoggin the NogPingwingsPogles WoodClangers, and Bagpuss – the iconic animations produced by the Canterbury-based Smallfilms studio between 1958 and 1984 – constitute a significant thread of British cultural history. The lasting appeal of the imagined worlds created by Smallfilms is evident in the highly-successful BBC reboot of Clangers (2015-present), which has introduced a whole new audience to the pink moon mice. As well as the shows likely to be famiilar to readers, this history expands the Smallfilms story to include those less well-known animated shows that nonetheless played an important part in the studio’s history.

Through extensive studio access, interviews with many key Smallfilms collaborators, press and audience analysis, Chris Pallant provides a comprehensive and definitive historical record of the studio’s work. Beyond Bagpuss is illustrated with 100 images from the Smallfilms archive, including those that have not previously been published.

With thanks to Myles Sullivan for locating the Smallfilms comic PDF

Categories: Animation, Books, downthetubes News, Events, Licensing, Merchandise, Other Worlds, Television

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Discover more from downthetubes.net

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading