The first TV program I let my eldest boy watch was Ivor The Engine. No, my son is not 40 years old now, but it was the only show that I felt didn’t rely on action, violence, fast flickering images, oversized eyes and/or loud piercing voices and bangs. I was, in the style of a overly cautious middle class and middle aged man, just being careful about TV as I didn’t want him to have lots of confusing, visual input without me being able to explain it to him. So, with that in mind I introduced my boy to what I would have grown up with, a story based series with quiet imagery but full of charm.
It was a typical, overcast winter day I found myself near Canterbury, at the house of the creator of kids TV shows Ivor the Engine, the Clangers and Bagpuss. A country house with two adjacent farm houses. We were warmly welcomed with coffees and teas, before a tour around the house and farm houses. Peter Firmin is as kind and as charming as his creations. He told me of how his shows were created using cut outs from cardboard improvised in his own barn, the window of his house being used in introduction to his most know creation Bagpuss and we were invited to a warm, homemade lunch with two deserts and more coffee. It was great to witness that something as honest and charming as his creations were made with pioneering improvisation, and most of it on the doorstep of its creator. If you want to see more of this master of children’s entertainment and a master of DIY children’s TV then check out The Museum of Childhood in Whitechapel.