TV Cream

TV: B is for...


13 EPISODES of sepia soft toy sophistry from the late mind of cardboard scissor-whizz turned latterday environmental doommonger OLIVER POSTGATE. Desperately slow plots always began the same way – with a desperately slow rundown of precisely what was about to happen, depicted in faded prints of the kind they used as props in [cref 1494 NEVER THE TWAIN]. A girl, Emily, then appeared dressed as if it were the 1840s, who for some reason “owned” a shop that sold nothing. Everything – here comes the hook – on display in the window was lost property, watched over by the store’s resident custodian and “old fat furry catpuss”. Said feline – baggy and a bit loose at the seams – was then called upon by Emily in textbook 70s hippy chanting, to “wake up and look at this thing I bring; wake up, be bright, be golden and light!” Bagpuss responded with a huge yawn (securing plus points ad infinitum from bored teenage/student viewers) and the episode proper began. Those shop “assistants” in full: a toad with a banjo (Gabriel – “Oh, look!”); a load of mice on their “marvellous mechanical” mouse-organ; can’t-be-arsed rag doll Madeline; and, hero of the hour, woodpecker bookend Professor Yaffle, whose advanced years meant ambling down a pile of books to examine this week’s curio was hard going. Yaffle’s addled brain would then mistake a pin cushion for an earless elephant, while the mice would turn a doll’s house into a mill for making chocolate biscuits out of breadcrumbs and butterbeans, only to be exposed as a fraud. Such hysteria was interspersed with even more desperately slow songs and stories, before the mice did some genuine “fixing” and restored the piece of junk to its former glory, at which point its actual purpose was revealed and everyone went back to sleep. Show’s legacy far outweighs actual merits of each episode, but “when I produce Bagpuss at my student lectures, everyone cheers!” insisted Oliver, so that’s OK.



  1. paulus - Bangkok

    July 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Even though it was crap… it still reduces me to ‘four year old’ the moment the music starts and Emily appears. I can hardly hold back the insecurity and tears.
    Bagpuss – you b@stard

    It’s emotion-tastic!

  2. aimee

    July 22, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    i loved this programme when i was younger it was like wearing a comfy pair of slippers
    they just dont make progammmes like any more!!!

  3. Rob Williams

    July 22, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    “We will fix it, we will fix, we will fix it….” A piece of the 70’s, even the nice from the mouse organ went on strike! Not as big as Red Robbo and all that, but they stood there ground there!

    Though Oliver Postgate will remain, a true gentleman and one of television’s creatives…

  4. Arthur Nibble

    July 22, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    …and in my opinion he deserved a knighthood.

  5. Danforth

    April 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    In the cold light of modern viewing, the slow pace, whimsy and (shudder) folk-singing do put me off a bit… but I used to love it as a kid, my daughters love it now, and I could no more criticise it objectively than… well… kick an old, beloved cat.

  6. Professor Waffle

    April 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I know it wasn’t the intention, but in between the cosiness Bagpuss could be strangely unsettling, eerie isn’t quite the right word, but it did have a chill at times. The stories like the upturned bucket with “something” living under it and the man living in the Highlands hearing the music drifitng distantly over the hills and mountains scared me a little when I was younger.

    I never got that feeling with Fingerbobs, for example. Postgate was in a class by himself.

  7. David Pascoe

    April 9, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    It was gentle fare with a touch of lightly demented whimsy. As with all Postgate-Firmin stuff, it never talked down to its audience either.

  8. David Pascoe

    April 9, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    And to follow Professor Waffle’s point – if Bagpuss was a Beatles song, it would be Cry Baby, Cry.

  9. Lee James Turnock

    May 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    The animated story where an elephant’s ears fell off scared the crap out of me.

  10. johnnyboy

    February 3, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Slightly squiffy pub experiment is to recite the opening monologue without errors, or if more than squiffy, the closing ones, all after “and bagpuss gave a big yawn…”

  11. Paul Norton

    May 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Can you imagine someone trying to sell an idea like this to today’s caffeine-infused, edit-a-second children’s programmers today? They’d laugh it out of the office!

  12. Sidney Balmoral James

    October 30, 2022 at 9:48 pm

    Was this review written by Professor Yaffle? Perhaps another of TV Cream’s unaccountable blind spots (like Some Mother’s etc.) as this is obviously one of the greatest children’s programmes ever made – it may be the greatest – and possibly the most charming, from an era in which charm was in short supply.

  13. Richardpd

    October 31, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    I really like this, & still found it good when BBC4 repeated an episode a while back.

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