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Captain Pugwash

1 9 5 7 – 1 9 6 6 (UK)
1 9 7 4 – 1 9 7 5 (UK)
58 x 10 minute episodes (black & white)
30 x 5 minute episodes (colour)

Captain Pugwash originally appeared in the first 12 issues of Eagle comic, before moving to television, where it debuted on 22 October 1957.

The bumbling Captain was created and animated by cartoonist John Ryan and brought to life by Peter Hawkins (who had provided the “flobbalobs” for The Flowerpot Men), who performed all the voices.

Captain Horatio Pugwash was a rather rotund kind-hearted pirate who captained the vessel the Black Pig, ably assisted by a hapless and work-shy crew which included Master Mate, able seamen Barnabas and Willy, and Tom his loyal cabin boy.


The Captain’s sworn enemy was Cut-Throat Jake, barbarous pirate captain of the Flying Dustman and his band of ruffians.

Pugwash was a pretty useless pirate and leader really and inevitably had his bacon saved by the young cabin boy.

It was by today’s standards a rather crude attempt at animation – using boards with moving parts operated out of shot by an ingenious arrangement of tabs and levers (like a televised pop-up book) – which nevertheless found a place in our hearts, probably because of the strength of the characters it featured.

The series was updated to colour in 1974. Fifty painted backdrops featured in each episode, and early episodes went out live, with mistakes and malfunctions left in.


The innocent charm of the show was later sullied by student rag jokes suggesting rude names appearing in the show, citing non-existent characters Master Bates, Seaman Staines and Roger the Cabin Boy.

When the urban myths were echoed as fact in 1991 by The Guardian and The Sunday Correspondent, John Ryan sued and won legal damages.

The good Captain returned to the small screen on ITV in 13 new stories entitled The Adventures of Captain Pugwash in 1997. Luscious Lill was one of the new characters complementing the old favourites as they plied the seas around the island of Mucho-Buffo.

Peter Hawkins

Captain Pugwash
Master Mate
Pirate Barnabas
Pirate Willy
Tom the Cabin Boy
Cut Throat Jake