1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 2 (UK)
27 x 10 minute episodes
The children’s stop-motion animation The Clangers was first broadcast on 16 November 1969.
The Clangers were tiny pink long-snouted mouse-shaped creatures who lived on a small blue moon, communicated in the melodious tones of a swanee whistle and ate blue string pudding and soup dispensed by a fussy Soup Dragon.
The Clangers moon was covered in metal lids under which they hid from the cold and the numerous objects falling from space – such a common occurrence that Major Clanger wore brass armour to protect himself from the falling objects.
Other notable Clangers were Mother Clanger, Tiny Clanger, Small Clanger and Granny Clanger. They shared their world not only with the Soup Dragon but also with the Glow Buzzers (who provided light for the Clangers caves and tasty Glow Honey) and the four conjuring Froglets, inexplicable orange, oval stick-legged creatures who travelled in a top hat and lived in a vertical pond deep within the planet.
This was a world where music grew on trees and where musical notes, when collected could be used to propel space-borne helicopters and boats.
Their closest neighbour was the Iron Chicken, who lived on a spiky nest of old scrap iron and bits of machinery which she had gathered up in her travels.
The series began soon after the moon landing and Mother Clanger used an American flag – left behind by a visiting astronaut – as a tablecloth.
Fortunately, Oliver Postgate provided a gentle narration to make sense of it all.
The Clangers was the result of a demand from the BBC that – as colour TV became increasingly popular- all independently made children’s programmes should not only be in colour but colourful in concept, too.
Postgate remembered that in one of their Noggin stories they had introduced a tiny space traveller called Moonmouse. Suppose they had a whole family of such characters living on their own small, inhospitable moon. They would perhaps dwell in caves, with iron doors against the cold which they would clang open and shut like dustbin lids. They would be . . . Clangers.
Each episode of The Clangers invariably had a message about we naughty Earthlings; polluting and over-crowding our own planet, sending junk into space, “invading” other planets with our space probes etc.
Creator Peter Firmin worked with the BBC on a remake of The Clangers in 2014. He was relieved to see that the new CGI Clangers really did still look like knitted toys come to life. The magic remained intact as far as he was concerned. Michael Palin provided the narration in a style that kept memories of the much loved original alive (narration in the US version was provided by William Shatner).
Baby Soup Dragon
The Iron Chicken
Baby Iron Chicken