Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Oliver Postgate RIP
Listening to the comments on Radio 5 Live this morning, there seems to be something of a national consensus that a little bit of our collective childhood has died with the passing of Oliver Postgate.
I barely remember Pogle's Wood on TV, but can vividly recall the mounting excitement every Friday when I was 5 years old waiting for my children's magazine Pippin Post to be delivered - Pogel's Wood featured in it, as well as the weekly hunt for Baby Moonbeam through the pages. (You probably think I'm going off my rocker, and alas there seems to be nothing on the net about this ahem seminal publication).
Plenty has been written about the quality and influence of the likes of Ivor the Engine and Bagpuss. Certainly The Clangers transported the nation's children at 5.40pm every evening to a safe and magical place that sharply contrasted with the grown-ups' News which followed straight after.
For me, however, the most abiding memory of these programmes and of Postgate himself was the beautiful, lyrical quality of the narration. Postgate often spoke in a reserved fashion, but whilst he could bring characters readily to life, it was in the longer descriptive passages (in the Clangers, for example) where his poetry lifted the programme to a different level.
A few years ago, when I started reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to James, I was conscious that I was mimicking someone, but I couldn't place who. Then it came to me - the natural voice of Tolkein's prose (perhaps after the Noggin the Nog sagas) was Oliver Postgate. He influenced my generation in so many subtle ways.