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Pogles' Wood (1966)

Courtesy of Smallfilms

Main image of Pogles' Wood (1966)
Smallfilms for BBC
26 x 5 minute episodes
Written byOliver Postgate
MusicVernon Elliott
Puppets and SettingsPeter Firmin
ProducerOliver Postgate

Mr and Mrs Pogle instruct young Pippin and his sprite friend Tog in the customs of the countryside.

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In The Pogles, Mr and Mrs Pogle were a homely couple living quietly in a tree root until the day Mr Pogle found a magic bean which, when planted, became a huge talking plant fond of bilberry wine. When the baby son of the Fairy King appeared in the branches of the plant it was up to the Pogles to protect him from a beak-nosed old witch.

Intended for the Watch With Mother strand, this original six-part story was rejected as too frightening. It was shown just once - albeit to a wider audience - as part of Clapperboard (BBC, 1965), a showcase of mainly foreign short films, airing in a 5 o'clock slot. Oliver Postgate dropped in to join hosts Gary Watson and squirrel monkey Montmorency on 26/8/1965 to talk about his series.

Watch With Mother broadly instructed young viewers about the world - the Head of Family Programmes, Doreen Stephens, suggested that the Pogles explore and explain their countryside habitat. To facilitate this, Postgate introduced an inquisitive young boy, Pippin (in Postgate's mind the Fairy Prince of the original series), and his furry sprite friend Tog. Pogles' Wood investigated rural customs and discovered where the likes of honey, milk and wool come from.

The series used stop motion figures in a clever blend of techniques; puppets were animated in model studio sets, in real locations or appeared static alongside human actors. A second run of Pogles' Wood ventured outdoors less often, preferring the bean plant to tell stories more easily animated in the studio.

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
Complete episode (14:15)
Production stills
Smallfilms studio tour
Pogles, The (1965)
Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin