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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Bagpuss

I was saddened to hear of the death of Oliver Postgate, creator of Ivor the Engine, The Clangers, and Bagpuss (which was voted the most popular children's television programme of all time)

You know you're getting old when you start on that 'things were better in them days' routine, but children's programmes are a bit like nursing and parenting; eulogised but there's no money in it. And like parenting, children's telly is done by committee nowadays. You have to run things by producers, senior producers, executives . . . everyone is so worried about offending someone. When I co-wrote a small radio programme for children, we weren't allowed to have a 'weeing sound' in case Myrtle from East Cheam rang in to complain that her little 'Mango and Edgar didn't tune in to hear the sound of urination!' (true) Our plaintive appeals of 'small children like naughty sounds like wees and farts fell on deaf ears. Oliver Postgate was part of the generation of children's programme makers who had a great idea and were allowed to get on with it, without scores of suits checking every five minutes. What hasn't changed is there's still bugger all money in it.

6 comments:

AndrewT said...

There's probably less money involved these days, and a requirement to produce 300 episodes so they can show it every day for the next year!

AndrewT said...

There's probably less money involved these days, and a requirement to produce 300 episodes so they can show it every day for the next year!

Jane said...

Ah AndrewT - you speak wisdom and truth. I suppose that's quite a good thing if you've written Frasier. Bit sad though with children's telly. I may be being a bit sentimental here, but didn't the UK produce some of the best children's television in the world?

And I wouldn't have liked to be Elizabeth Beresford who wrote The Wombles for a flat fee, while the merchandise alone made something like $75 million worldwide!!

The Dotterel said...

I believe Oliver Postgate was paid as little as £10 per minute for some of his creations - hardly riches. I hope there really isn't less money than that today!

Kit Courteney said...

That is sad news, indeed. I loved those programmes. I remember coming home from school with my sister, shouting 'I'm starving!' to my poor mother who was invariably sweeping the kitchen floor. We'd kick off our shoes, have a row about something or other and then settle down to watch Bagpuss, Ivor etc.

I think it's a testament to the very talented Oliver Postgate that the 30-somethings of today are so normal.

Either that, or he created a bunch of pink-cat loving, iffy whistling lunatics.

Whichever it is, I'm glad he did.

Jane said...

£10 a minute for Oliver Postgate? Actually that doesn't surprise me although it's depressing. The BBC seem to pay vast amounts to a tiny contingency at the expense of everyone else.