Oliver Richard Postgate
12 April 1925
|Died||8 December 2008 (aged 83)|
Broadstairs, Kent, England
|Occupation||Animator, puppeteer, writer|
|Spouse(s)||Prudence Myers (1957–1982; her death)|
|Partner(s)||Naomi Linnell (1985–2008, his death)|
|Relatives||John Postgate (brother)|
John Percival Postgate (paternal grandfather)
John Postgate (great grandfather)
George Lansbury (maternal grandfather)
Margaret Cole (paternal aunt)
Edgar Lansbury (maternal uncle)
Angela Lansbury (cousin)
Bruce Lansbury (cousin)
Edgar Lansbury (cousin)
He made several series of children’s programmes for British television. They all became very popular. They include Pingwings, Pogles' Wood, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Bagpuss. They were all made by Smallfilms, the company he set up with Peter Firmin. They were shown on the BBC between the 1950s and the 1980s, and on ITV from 1959 to the present day. In a 1999 poll, Bagpuss was voted the most popular children's television programme of all time.
He was born in Hendon, Middlesex, England. He went to Woodstock School and Woodhouse County Secondary School in London. When World War II started he was evacuated to Devon and he finished his studies at Dartington Hall School. He refused to fight in the war, so he was sent to prison. However, he was soon let out because he volunteered to be a stretcher bearer for the Red Cross.
In 1948 he trained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but he never became a professional actor. He was more interested in animation. He created the character of a pig made out of cardboard that played the violin. The BBC were not interested in his idea. Seven years later he joined the ITV London company Associated-Rediffusion as a stage manager. He worked on children’s programmes and made props.
Postgate thought he could make better programmes than the ones he was working on, so he created Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse that was born to be king. Postgate met an artist called Peter Firmin. He was good at drawing animation characters. The two men started to work together and for 30 years they created their well-known television series, running their own company called Smallfilms. The characters in their stories were moved by magnets under a table. They created The Saga of Noggin the Nog (1959-1965). It was based on old Norse legends. Then came The Seal of Neptune (1960), a story about horses that lived under the sea. They created The Pogles which was about a witch, but after the first broadcast it was thought to be too frightening for children. Then came The Clangers (1969-1974 which was their first colour production. Their most famous creation was Bagpuss, the story of a toy cat made of rags that sat in a shop window.
Postgate married Prudence Myers in 1957, becoming stepfather to her three children The couple had twin boys in 1959 and another son in 1964. Prudence died in 1982. Naomi Linnell was his partner in the last years of his life.
He wrote an autobiography Seeing Things which was published in 2000. In his book he looked back at the programmes he made. He explained why they were so popular by saying: “They are simple, and they are well-founded in a safe place. They are full of fun and, like a good meal, they are rich and satisfying.”
Obituary to Oliver Postgate, The Independent, 10 Dec 2008 p. 34