Created by BAFTA award-winning Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate through their company Smallfilms, the TV series was filmed in Firmin’s barn in Blean, just outside Canterbury. Bagpuss has now retired quite comfortably to a replica of Emily’s shop window in Canterbury Heritage Museum.
Surprisingly, considering Bagpuss’s incredible popularity, only 13 episodes were ever made. The TV series was first broadcast on 12 February 1974 and ran to 7 May 1974, and has been frequently repeated ever since.
Each programme began in the same way: through a series of sepia photographs, the viewer is told of a little girl named Emily who owned a shop (which didn’t actually sell anything). Emily found lost and broken things and displayed them in the window, so their owners could come and collect them. She would leave the object in front of her favourite stuffed toy, Bagpuss, whose “thinks bubble” became a way to illustrate the stories and mend or explore the objects that Emily had found.
In real life Emily is one of Peter’s daughters.
Bafta-winning Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate created beloved characters for children’s television programmes in the pre-CGI animation era using stop-frame animation.
Smallfilms became known to the BBC for their reliability and high quality shows and were renowned for being able to produce up to 2 minutes of TV-ready animation a day, far above pre-CGI industry standards.
It was only two years ago that Peter Firmin was presented with the prestigious Special Award at the British Academy Children’s Award to recognise the legacy of Smallfilms’.
Along with the original Bagpuss, Peter Firmin has generously loaned many of the original film props for long-term display at Canterbury Heritage Museum including Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, the Clangers and The Pogles family.
Bagpuss not only provides inspiration for storytelling and comprehension but encourages students to look at local people who have contributed to literature and television. These aspirational people made all their own sets which further stimulates interest in making and repairing.
- KS1: Local History, Artists, Craft Makers and Designers, Writing Composition
- KS2: Local History, Britain Beyond 1066, Mechanical Systems, Writing Composition, Artists, Architects and Designers in History
- KS3: Local History, Britain 1901- Present Day, History of Art, Craft and Design, Developments in Design and Technology, Materials and Components