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Saga of Noggin the Nog, The (1959)

Courtesy of Smallfilms

Main image of Saga of Noggin the Nog, The (1959)
Smallfilms for BBC
30 x 5 minute episodes (black and white) (1959-65); 5 x 5 minute episodes (colour) (1982)
Created byPeter Firmin
 Oliver Postgate
Written byOliver Postgate
MusicVernon Elliott
DrawingsPeter Firmin
ProducerOliver Postgate

Voices: Oliver Postgate, Ronnie Stevens

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In the lands of the North, tales are told of how brave and wise King Noggin the Nog ruled benevolently over his people and kept them safe from the evil plans of his wicked uncle, Nogbad the Bad.

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The inspiration for the first Saga of Noggin the Nog (BBC, 1959) came from a set of Norse chess figures from the Isle of Lewis which Peter Firmin had seen in the British Museum in the early 1950s.

The dying King of the Nogs will be succeeded by his wicked brother Nogbad, unless son Prince Noggin can find a Queen within six weeks. The royal bird Graculus brings Noggin an ivory dagger carved with a picture of Nooka, princess from the Land of the Midnight Sun, and so the prince sets out on a quest to find this beautiful Eskimo.

Four further animated tales followed, with Noggin, Graculus and reluctant fellow adventurer Thor Nogson discovering more strange lands and gentle peril. Even a fearsome ice dragon turned out to be a terribly nice chap after all, a clerical grade dragon and treasurer of the Dragon's Friendly Society. Only the persistent moustache-twirling evil of Nogbad cast a shadow over Noggin's happy land.

Repeats of these adventures (usually with two parts edited into one) aired regularly until 1977, by which time it had become painfully obvious to most viewers that the series was in black and white. Two colour stories, aired on BBC2 in 1982, retained all of the originals' style but with Firmin's stylish artwork if anything improved by the wider palette. Postgate wrote the new 'Flying Machine' from memory, having been unable to locate his original script; "we didn't stick too closely to it and the pace is slightly quicker - like the times we live in," he said.

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
Noggin and the Ice Dragon (5:02)
Noggin and the Moonmouse
Smallfilms studio tour
Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin