The Royal Mail’s Special Stamp programme kicks-off 2014 with an issue that celebrates over 60 years of Classic Children’s TV – and almost every character featured has appeared in one comic or more down the years.
12 of the most popular characters from children’s television are included in the set that features Andy Pandy, Ivor the Engine, Dougal – from The Magic Roundabout, Windy Miller – from Camberwick Green, Mr Benn, Great Uncle Bulgaria – from The Wombles, Bagpuss, Paddington Bear, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig and Shaun the Sheep.
2014 will mark the 40th anniversary of Bagpuss first appearing on TV, the creation of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (who also created Ivor the Engine, The Clangers and many other delights). The saggy cloth cat is continually cited as one of the most favourite British children’s TV character of all time and featured in Pippin annual as well as other places. Some original text stories by Postgate and Firmin were collected in The Big Book of Bagpuss in 2007.
The year will also mark the 50th anniversary of The Magic Roundabout, originally made in France by Serge Danot as Le Manège enchanté with the help of animator Ivor Wood (who also made Postman Pat). The English language scripts of the show, voiced by Eric Thompson, made Dougal the dog one of most popular children’s characters ever to appear on TV. In addition to spin-off books and annuals, some 500 episodes of a Magic Roundabout comic strip were published in The Sun in the 1970s – there’s an example of one of them here on comicstripfan.com.
Each decade since the 1950s is represented in this stamp issue. Even the older programmes have been frequently repeated and new series created of them. Such is the popularity of these characters, that 2014 will see the films Postman Pat: The Movie and Paddington hit the big-screen at cinemas nationwide, while The Wombles are set to return to TV later this year, a new CGI series giving them a high-tech makeover.
While they were originally intended for a young audience, many of the shows featured on these stamps have acquired cult status, and attracted devoted adult fans. Such was the following for The Magic Roundabout that when it was moved to an earlier timeslot in 1967, the BBC received complaints from the programme’s adult fans who could not get home in time from work to watch it (there was no ctach up TV or any means to record it in most homes back then).
“For over 60 years, Britain’s children’s TV characters have brought cheer to generations of viewers,” enthuses Andrew Hammond from Royal Mail Stamps. “More importantly it has presented us with a cast of characters that, like the memories of the programmes themselves, remain with us throughout our lives.
”It feels appropriate to celebrate all of these unforgettable characters on a set of very special stamps.”
• The stamps are available from 7th January 2014 online at www.royalmail.com/childrenstv, by phone on 08457 641 641 and in 10,000 Post Offices throughout the UK