Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner

The creators of Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss and the Clangers

Main image of Smallfilms

Oliver Postgate was a would-be inventor, toymaker, actor, craftsman and shop window dresser who turned to children's storytelling in the hope it would offer him a proper career. His first animated television series was Alexander the Mouse in 1958. Looking for an illustrator he was introduced to an art school lecturer called Peter Firmin, beginning a partnership that would last almost thirty years.

The pair worked on tiny budgets, using secondhand equipment adapted with Meccano and string by Postgate, in a studio set up in an old cowshed. Several series sprang from this partnership, usually written, narrated and animated by Postgate using drawings and designs from Firmin. Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and Pogles' Wood were among their early work in television's black and white days, with many episodes later remade in colour.

With the Clangers and Bagpuss, Smallfilms created an enduring and peculiarly English folklore. Eccentric tales of altruistic, benign sorts trying to make life better for others, these are among the most fondly remembered children' programmes ever made. Oliver Postgate once said that "if I didn't like the world as it was I would make a new one". That he and Peter Firmin did, several times over.

Alistair McGown

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Bagpuss (1974)

Bagpuss (1974)

Just a saggy old cloth cat. But Emily loved him.

Thumbnail image of Clangers (1969-74)

Clangers (1969-74)

Much-loved stories of the inhabitants of a small rocky planet far away

Thumbnail image of Ivor the Engine (1959-64)

Ivor the Engine (1959-64)

The animated adventures of Welsh steam engine Ivor

Thumbnail image of Pogles' Wood (1966)

Pogles' Wood (1966)

Children's animation about a couple who live in a tree root

Thumbnail image of Saga of Noggin the Nog, The (1959)

Saga of Noggin the Nog, The (1959)

Animated Viking saga made for children's television

Related Collections

Thumbnail image of Children's Puppets and Animation

Children's Puppets and Animation

The adventures of Muffin and his successors

Thumbnail image of Children's Television

Children's Television

Broadcasting for children of all ages

Thumbnail image of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin

The creators of Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, the Clangers and Bagpuss

Related People and Organisations