Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Remembering Oliver Postgate

I was a little old for Bagpuss, but the Clangers, Pogles' Wood and, above all, Noggin the Nog were central to my childhood.

The Guardian has a nice selection of Youtube clips from Postgate's shows, while Ben Davies pays tribute to him on the New Statesman website. Postgate blogged for the magazine between November 2006 and February 2008.

Stroppyblog is good on Postgate's radical ancestry:

may I be the first 1920s labour history nerd to point out that Oliver was the son of Raymond Postgate and Daisy Lansbury, both lifelong, active socialists, and therefore the grandson of George Lansbury. Which, of course, makes him the cousin of Angela Lansbury; he was born in the same year as her too. And the nephew of my personal hero Minnie Lansbury, although she died before Oliver was born.

And, like all GL's descendants, quite possibly also the descendant of a Tolpuddle Martyr. George's wife, Bessie Brine, was probably - although it has never been proved for sure - the granddaughter of Tolpuddle's James Brine.

To me, Postgate's programmes - and particulary that wise and weary voice - are redolent of a more civilised view of childhood. In 1960s children's television, the presenters were on your side, but they knew lots of interesting things about the world that you didn't and wanted to share them with you.

Today's television is too anxious to ingratiate itself with its young audience. The presenters hardly seem like adults at all. With their perfect eyes and teeth, they are more like monstrous 10-year-olds.

Finally, another memory.

When I worked for Golden Wonder in the 1980s, the company was part of the same group as HP Foods and W. Symington and Co., who made things like gravy powder and instant soups. The staff shop was over at Symington's premises, in the charge of a rather fierce lady.

So, at Golden Wonder, visiting the staff shop was referred to as "going to see the Soup Dragon".

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