Bagpuss (1974)

Stuffed toys sit in a room with a dark oak-panelled desk behind them. On the left, sitting on a blue and green tin, is Gabriel, a green toad holding a banjo. Underneath him is a grey mouse wearing a white t-shirt and blue plaid shorts. Underneath the mouse is Professor Yaffle, a wooden woodpecker wearing wire-rimmed glasses. In the middle, sitting on a cushion, is Bagpuss, a pink and white stripy cat. Above him on the desk either side of his ears stands a mouse – the left one wearing a blue and pink plaid dress, and the right one wearing a navy-blue dress. At his feet sits another mouse, this one wearing a red t-shirt with a yellow cravat. On the right, sitting in a wicker chair, is Madeleine, a rag doll with ginger curly hair wearing an orange, yellow, green and white striped dress. On her lap sits yet another mouse wearing red shorts and a yellow patterned shirt.

Bagpuss (1974) © BBC

Creator: Oliver Postgate, Peter Firmin
Starring: Oliver Postgate, Sandra Kerr, John Faulkner
Production Company:
Kent Locations Used:
Blean – Canterbury

Bagpuss (1974) was an animated children’s TV series created by Smallfilms which aired on BBC2 in 1974. The series follows Bagpuss, “a saggy old cloth cat”, who lives in a shop that houses lost things. Each of the thirteen episodes feature Bagpuss and his friends the mice, a rag doll named Madeleine, Gabriel the toad, and Professor Yaffle the wooden woodpecker, coming to life and investigating the objects their owner Emily brings them.

The series was created by Smallfilms, a TV production company founded by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, who also produced popular children’s stop-motion animated programmes The Clangers (1969-1974), Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog. The production was a collaboration between the two men, with Firmin making the models and drawing the artwork, and Postgate writing the scripts and voicing and animating the characters.

Sandra Kerr voiced Madeleine the rag doll and John Faulkner voiced Gabriel the Toad. Both actors also wrote and performed the folk songs. Bagpuss, the narrator, and additional characters were voiced by creator Oliver Postgate.

Peter Firmin, a man with grey hair and a beard, holds Bagpuss, a pink and white striped cat stuffed toy. Firmin wears a blue jumper with a grey shirt underneath. Behind him is a black wood-panelled cowshed with a peg tile roof.

Bagpuss with Peter Firmin outside the studio / barn where the programme was filmed  © Kent Online

Bagpuss, as well as Smallfilms’ other productions, was shot in a studio in Blean, near Canterbury. The studio was originally a disused cowshed at Firmin’s family home. The exterior of the shop appearing in each episode’s opening scene was also filmed at Firmin’s home and featured his daughter Emily.

Blean is a village in the district of Canterbury which is home to the popular Blean Woods Nature Reserve, one of the largest woodlands in England. Smallfilms The Clangers (1969-1974) was also shot in Blean.

Despite only airing for one series, Bagpuss garnered nationwide acclaim and in 1999 it won a BBC poll becoming the nation’s favourite BBC children’s programme.

Until Sunday 28th July 2024, the original Bagpuss puppet will be on display in The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury, along with Rupert the Bear.

Bagpuss first aired on BBC2 from Tuesday 12th February to Tuesday 7th May 1974. It is now available to purchase on DVD.

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.