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Monday, 17 May, 1999, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Made in the 70s, still going strong
bagpuss
Bagpuss: Still selling by the skipful
Kiddies' TV shows made in the 70s are still being snapped up off the video shelves. As Bagpuss celebrates its 25th anniversary, BBC News Online takes a nostalgic look at what the decade had to offer under-10s.

Maybe it's because people approaching their third decade have more disposable income than before - or maybe the stresses of modern life make nostalgic safety valves a necessity.

But the telly shows that the late 90s young professionals once enjoyed with a bag of Tutti Fruttis or a 10p mix are now selling like hot cakes.

The video market for 70s children's shows is booming. Polygram has just this week released a new Bagpuss package.

new bagpuss video
New video is out this week
The saggy old cloth cat Bagpuss first hit the screen a quarter of a century ago, and was originally shown as part of the BBC's Watch With Mother series.

Despite only 13 episodes ever having been made, the magic fluffy cat has become a national institution, and the show was this year voted the all-time children's favourite in a BBC poll.

He lived in a shop where a little girl called Emily took things to be mended. Bagpuss and all his friends - including Professor Yaffle, the wooden bookend, and Madeleine the rag doll - would wake up in her absence, have a sing-song on the mouse organ and sort out the broken object.

Spokeswoman for Polygram, Zoe Sobol, said: "The response we have had to the new Bagpuss video is incredible. People feel very nostalgic and warm towards these shows.

"Single people remember them and their associations with happy childhood times, and people with children want their own kids to see the programmes which they enjoyed so much."

The pink and yellow striped saggy old cloth cat was the creation of Smallfilms, the animation company which was also behind Noggin the Nogg and Ivor the Engine.

ivor the engine
Jones the Steam and Ivor the Engine
The Clangers also came out of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's Smallfilms camp. They first whistled moon songs to telly-watching kids in 1969. Small, woolly and vaguely mouse-like, the extra-terrestrials lived in moon craters with saucepan lids for doors. They were friends with the Soup Dragon and the Iron Chicken, and collected musical notes from trees.

Stranger still was The Magic Roundabout . While parents waited for the news, kids got to see the antics of Florence, Ermintrude, Zebedee and friends - including the dog that inspired a million birthday cakes, Dougal.

Rainbow involved two small puppets, George and Zippy, a man in dungarees called Geoffrey, and a person in a bear suit called Bungle. The four had squabbles, which upset George the dippy hippo, and were usually sparked off by Zippy the mouthy orange glove puppet. Another strange lot who all lived in the same house were the spooks of Rentaghost.

dougal
Dougal - inspiration for a million birthday cakes
The early 70s was a great time for animated toys. The Wombles of Wimbledon Common were an introduction to ecology, tidying up the rubbish left behind by scruffy humans. Everything was taken to pinny-wearing Tobermory, the caretaker and Mr Fixit of the Womble warren. Wellington was nervous and brainy, Orinoco was lazy, Tomsk was dim but brawny. Great Uncle Bulgaria ran the whole operation - and Mme Cholet made the cakes.

In cartoonland, much fun was to be had with the likes of Roobarb and Custard Roobarb and Custard , the shakily animated tales of a dog who invented things in his shed. Noah and Nelly was a similar offering featuring a couple who lived aboard the Skylark and knitted everything their hearts desired - including a swimming pool.

mr benn
Mr Benn liked to dress up
Primitive animation did nothing to diminish the popularity of Captain Pugwash, while dressing up was the game for Mr Benn .

Basil Brush boom-boomed right through to Doctor Who slot.

And while all of the above are held in true affection, the shows which led to top playground fun were imported telly action dramas.

Monkey was the Japanese saga of a magic monkey and his travelling companions, Pigsy and Sandy. Crucially for school lunchtime re-enactments, Monkey could summon a magic cloud by waving two fingers in front of his mouth, and had a magic fighting stick that transformed from a toothpick to a barge pole with a few twirls.

monkey magic
Monkey could summon a magic cloud
Surrounded by grenade-wielding troops in a rusting garage, armed only with a few paint cans and BA Barracas' jewellery, the The A-Team would cobble together an armoured landcruiser, complete with guided missile system to make their getaway.

The Dukes of Hazzard spent their whole time jumping in and out of a car which had its doors welded to its body in order to thwart the meddling plans of Boss Hogg and his sausage dog Flash.


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See also:

30 Jul 98 | Entertainment
Reigning cat and dog
20 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Children's classics go back to the future
01 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Bagpuss tops Television poll
15 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Mr Benn the film star
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