Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Another sign of creeping mortality

In the lands of the North, where the Black Rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale...

I don't have too many heroes in life, but one of mine from childhood was Oliver Postgate. I woke up this morning to the sounds of John Humphrys announcing his death. Postgate was 83 - so not a bad innings - and I knew he'd been ill for a while.

Strangely enough, we had been talking about him and his programmes around the dinner table on Sunday evening. Jac's favourite was Pogles' Wood, while for me it has to be Noggin the Nog - although Ivor the Engine comes a close second.

A generation on, my own kids were still enjoying Bagpuss and the Clangers - both made after Jac and I had started school, not not at the heart of our pre-school memories.

Today's kids TV is cheap and often cheerless - too often just a tie-in to some commercial product. Postgate's short films were cheap without doubt, but filled with charm, mystery and an other-worldliness that today's kids simply aren't exposed to. He was simply a great communicator with an innate sense of how to tap into children's interests, with simple stories beautifully told; often with a bit of mystery, occasionally (as with the witch in The Pogles) with a character who was just a bit scary.

Postgate himself was a bit of a proto-blogger, using his own website to protest against the war in Iraq and other issues that raised his ire. He'd turned his back on film making over two decades ago when he realised he was out of step with the commissioning editors in children's television. that was a shame for my kids although they've grown up with our dusty Postgate VHS tapes.

Anyway, so ends the Postgate saga......making me feel just a little bit older.

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