Ah, it’s a sad day. Oliver Postgate, one of the most creative writers to work in children’s telly, has died, at the age of 83.
Postgate is a prime example of something people don’t always realise: restriction is, curiously enough, one of the most important sources of creativity. Starting off on a low budget, Postgate, with Peter Firmin, founded Smallfilms, a two-man band which produced some of the most imaginative… why am I telling you this, though? You probably already know all this. It’s not as if Smallfilms’ productions have ever been forgotten. Bagpuss; The Clangers; Noggin The Nog; Ivor The Engine; even though only the very latest were actually part of my childhood, I feel as if they were.* Back onto the point: with pieces of card and a watercolour set, you can create something just as imaginative – more so – as something a 3D animator can come up with sitting at a desk with a copy of 3D Studio Max. You can achieve something wonderful, however little equipment you have to hand.
* The only Smallfilms production I’m old enough to have seen at first transmission was the frankly rather disturbing Tottie. I know I watched repeats of Ivor The Engine, but I can’t remember watching them. I do, however, bear some resemblance to Jones The Steam.
Two small things today, because I’m too sleepy to write more.
Firstly, some lovely photos of the dying Glasgow Subway in the 1970s.*
Secondly, reading the paper at lunchtime, I turned to the obituaries to find that one of my favourite writers, Jan Mark, died recently. Although she was known as a children’s writer, her “adult novel” Zeno Was Here is a lovely novel, and one of my favourite books. I’ll write more about it soon.
* Link via qwghlm.co.uk
I can’t help but feel slightly sickened at pre-obituaries – the endless news reports on the life and actions of famous people who are dangerously ill. It didn’t seem too bad during the slow death of George Best,* but the coverage of Ariel Sharon’s stroke has been terrible. As I’m writing Sharon is in a coma, but definitely alive; but for the past day or so every news report I’ve heard has been about how Middle-Eastern politics will change after he is gone – or, even worse, what his impact on history has been. These really are just obituary reports under another name.
(yes, I know they have a partial excuse that he’s almost certainly retiring – but even so, I still don’t think it’s right)
* or maybe it was just drowned out in my mind by the volume of post-death tributes