Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Clangers leave planet for gallery

The Clangers  Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate
The Clangers first appeared on BBC TV nearly 40 years ago

The original set of a BBC TV children's series dating back to 1969 has gone on display in an art gallery in Kent.

The Clangers - small, pink mouselike creatures who live under their planet's surface in caves protected by saucepan lids - have rarely been seen in public.

The handmade models were the creation of animator and illustrator Peter Firmin, and were knitted by his wife.

The original cast, including the Soup Dragon and Baby Clanger, can be seen at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury.

Tin boxes

Mr Firmin, who is now 80, brought the series to life with Oliver Postgate, with filming produced by their company Smallfilms in a pigsty in his Kent garden.

Mrs Soup Dragon has got rather a tatty hand because Oliver left her overnight with a chocolate penny in her paw
Peter Firmin

Since they were first shown on BBC TV, the iconic animation figures have been seen and enjoyed by millions of British viewers.

Mr Firmin said the original models of the Clangers were normally kept locked away in tin boxes to prevent the elements from destroying them.

He said: "Mrs Soup Dragon has got rather a tatty hand because Oliver left her overnight with a chocolate penny in her paw - and he used real chocolate pennies.

"And the mice came in the night and chewed the chocolate penny and chewed her finger at the same time," he recalled.

The exhibition is part of "Animate - The Birth of Cartoons for British Television", which runs until 13 December.

Also on display are Mr Firmin's original illustrations from Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog.

It comes as Mr Firmin and Mr Postgate celebrate 50 years of collaboration.

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