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:
Smallfilms
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.


Upstairs Downstairs – The Sudden Storm (1974)

The cast of Upstairs, Downstairs standing behind a sign that reads Upstairs, Downstairs

Upstairs, Downstairs © London Weekend Television (LWT)

Creator: Eileen Atkins
Starring: Angela Baddeley, Jean Marsh, Meg Wynn Owen, Simon Williams, David Langton, Gordon Jackson
Production Company: London Weekend Television (LWT), Sagitta Productions Ltd.
Kent Locations: Herne Bay

Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) was an ITV drama series set in a townhouse in Belgravia which charts the lives of the wealthy Bellamy family and their servants during the First World War and the interwar years.

The show which ran between 1971 and 1975, stars Jean Marsh (Willow, Frenzy), Angela Baddeley (Tom Jones, The Speckled Band), Meg Wynn Owen (Pride & Prejudice, Gosford Park), Simon Williams (Kinvig, Jabberwocky), David Langton (The Whistle Blower, Quintet) and Gordon Jackson (The Professionals, The Great Escape).

Herne Bay, including the beach by the former pier and Central Bandstand, features in series three, episode thirteen “The Sudden Storm”, when the staff take a day out to the seaside.

Located near to Canterbury, Herne Bay has a delightful beach with a bandstand and seafront gardens, as well as many shops and eateries, amusement arcades, and a windmill. The area has previously featured in filming projects such as Boomers (2014), Little Britain – Season 1 (2003) and The Medusa Touch (1978).

Upstairs, Downstairs “The Sudden Storm” (1974) was shown on Saturday 19th January 1974 and is available to watch on ITVX.

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


The Clangers (1969 – 1974)

Five Clangers, pink, mouse-shaped creatures wearing black shoes and the females different colour tabards or waistcoats and the males armour, stand on the surface of a blue, moon-like planet some in and some next to their crater shaped burrows some of which are covered by metal dustbin lids.. In the background is the dark night sky with twinkling stars an iron chicken flying in the top right of the image. The Clangers are waving at the chicken satellite.

The Clangers (1969-1974) © Channel 5

Creator: Oliver Postgate, Peter Firmin
Production Company:
Smallfilms
Kent Locations Used:
Blean – Canterbury

The Clangers (1969-1974) was a children’s stop-motion TV series which was broadcast on BBC One. The series consisted of short 10-minute episodes chronicling the lives of the Clangers, a family of pink mouse-like creatures who live below the surface of a far away planet populated by music trees and speak only in whistles. They lived in crater like burrows that were covered with dustbin lids to shield against meteor impacts and lived on blue string pudding and green soup from the planet’s soup wells harvested by the soup dragon.

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 Bagpuss (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.

The Clangers, 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.

Peter Firmin sits against a white background. He is wearing a navy-blue jumper with a light blue shirt underneath. He holds two puppets in his hands, one of the Froglets, an orange oval-shaped alien with black stick legs, the other the spotted green Soup Dragon. In front of him, on a table, stand six other puppets – three Clangers, another two Froglets and the Irone Chicken., a metallic bird made from Meccano.

Peter Firmin and the Clanger puppets at the Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury © Kent Online

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’ Bagpuss (1974) was also shot in Blean.

The series is a fondly remembered British classic. A revival series began airing in 2015 narrated by Michael Palin and airing on CBeebies.

The Clangers (1969-1974) was broadcast on BBC One from Sunday 16th November 1969 until Friday 10th November 1972. A final special episode was broadcast on Thursday 10th October 1974. The series is now available to purchase on DVD.

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


A Canterbury Tale (1944)

The two soldiers sat at a cafe table, a women is stood in between with a tray serving them.

The two soldiers in a cafe © Granada International

Writer / Director: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Starring: Eric Portman, John Sweet, Sheila Sim and Dennis Price
Production Company: The Archers, Independent Producers
Kent Locations Used: City of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral, Chilham, Fordwich, Little Stour, Selling, Wickhambreaux and Wingham

Inspired by the Chaucer tales, this classic film by cinema legends Powell and Pressburger tells the story of a modern day pilgrimage to the beautiful city of Canterbury. Set in the 1940’s amidst the drama of World War II, the film opens with the chance meeting of American G.I Bob Johnson (John Sweet), Land Girl Alison Smith (Sheila Sim) and British Soldier Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price).

On disembarking a train headed for Canterbury, the three arrive in the sleepy fictional village of Chillingbourne. Soldier Peter Gibbs has been stationed at a nearby Army Camp, Alison is due to start work on a local farm and G.I Bob accidentally got off the train believing it to be the stop for Canterbury. On leaving the station to walk to the town hall, Alison is attacked by the Glue Man, a mysterious assailant who pours glue onto the hair of local girls. The three decide to stay in the area in order to do some sleuthing.

Another local Kent village, Fordwich was used for exterior shots of “Chillingbourne” village. Before the Wantsum Channel, a stretch of water that divided The Isle of Thanet from Kent, dried up Fordwich was the main port serving Canterbury. Filmed at Denham Studios and on location around Kent, the film is a visually stunning walk through some of the most scenic locations in the county. Selling Train Station cameos as Chillingbourne Station, where the three main protagonists first meet.  Several Kentish villages were used for the fictional location of Chillingbourne.  The historical village of Wingham was established in Roman times but it has been inhabited since the Stone Age.  In 1286, the Archbishop of Canterbury founded a college in the area and many of the local buildings date back to this time, including The Red Lion Inn which was used for exterior shots of The Hand of Glory Inn for the film.

Near the picturesque village of Chilham, Chilham Mill provided the perfect backdrop for the charming scene where American soldier Joe sails in a row boat with the local children. The mill is the best preserved on the River Stour. It is said that the village itself was inspiration for the name of fictional village Chillingbourne in the film and if true, this would certainly not be the last time Chilham inspired filmmakers. A popular tourist attraction for the county, TV dramas such as Miss Marple (2006) and Poirot (1995) have filmed in the village.

Another local mill in nearby village Wickhambreaux also appeared in the film. As Joe and land girl Alison ride on a cart through the beautiful Kent countryside, the mill features in the background of the shot. The perfect rural setting, the village was once home to Joan of Kent who was wife to Edward Plantagenet, the father of infamous English King Richard II.

The City of Canterbury steals the show at the end of the film as the setting for the dramatic parade of soldiers through the main High Street.  The city skyline is dominated by the stunning Cathedral which is the oldest in England. Canterbury is a place that is both steeped in heritage and tradition and a modern, bustling city. A Canterbury Tale (1944) gives a modern day viewer an insight into how the Second World War affected the city, but even with visible bomb damage, many of the streets used can still be recognised today. The Cathedral itself paid homage to the film in 2006 when it was screened in the Cathedral Nave.

A Canterbury Tale (1944) was released on Monday 21st August 1944 and is now available to buy on DVD.

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