Entertainment & Arts

Bagpuss co-creator Peter Firmin gets Bafta honour

Peter Firmin (left) and Oliver Postgate making Pogles' Wood in 1966
Image caption Peter Firmin (left) and Oliver Postgate making Pogles' Wood in 1966

Peter Firmin, the co-creator of beloved children's animations The Clangers and Bagpuss, is to be honoured at the Bafta Children's Awards.

Firmin, 85, said he was "delighted" to receive a Special Award recognising his outstanding contribution to children's media and the entertainment industry.

It will be presented by Bernard Cribbins, with an introduction by Michael Palin.

The awards take place on Sunday 23 November at London's Roundhouse.

Firmin said his 50-year partnership with long-term collaborator Oliver Postgate, who died in 2008, had "opened up the world of television to us and allowed us to explore new ways of telling stories to generations of children".

Image caption Peter Firmin with 'old, saggy cloth cat' Bagpuss

He said: "Television has changed and developed beyond anything we could have dreamt of in the years before colour and digital and computer chips with everything, so it is touching that our work is still remembered with such affection.

"I'm honoured that our work, and that of everyone who contributed to it, is being honoured with this accolade."

Firmin and Postgate began making children's programmes in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a little Welsh steam engine. It was remade in colour for the BBC in the 1970s.

Firmin made the puppets and sets, while Postgate wrote the scripts and did the animation - and most of their films were made in a barn on Firmin's farm in Kent.

Ivor was followed in the early 1960s by the sagas of Noggin the Nog, Later they branched out into stop-motion puppet animation. These included Pogles' Wood and The Clangers - pink creatures with pointed noses who spoke in whistles.

In 2013, a new version of The Clangers was announced, with Michael Palin providing the narration and Firmin as an executive producer.

Bagpuss, about a pink and white striped cat in a shop of lost and broken objects, made his first appearance in 1974. Only 13 episodes were ever made but it was voted the UK's favourite children's programme in a BBC poll in 1999.

With Ivan Owen, Firmin also created Basil Brush in 1962. The fox puppet had his own show on the BBC from 1968 to 1980 and later appeared on Crackerjack. His show returned to the BBC in 2002.

After he stopped making films in the 1980s, Firmin returned to his craft as an engraver and printmaker.

Harvey Elliott, Chairman of Bafta's children's committee, said: "Peter Firmin helped lay the foundations for the industry we see today, all from his small barn in Blean. His legacy is delighting and enchanting a whole new generation with the upcoming remake of family favourite The Clangers.

"Over the past 50 years, Peter's work has thrilled, entertained and inspired generations of filmmakers and animators and he is more than deserving of the Special Award at this year's British Academy Children's Awards."

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