BBC TV children's favourite Bagpuss is 50

Peter Firmin and Bagpuss
Peter Firmin created and filmed Bagpuss from his barn near Canterbury, Kent

Bagpuss, the most magical, saggy, old, cloth cat in the whole wide world, is 50.

The children's show first aired on 12 February 1974 and featured its co-creator's daughter, Emily.

Made by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, Bagpuss lived in a shop that was a home for lost property.

"It makes me feel very old because he's 50 and obviously I was about seven when they took the photographs," Emily, now 58, said.

The stop motion animation had been filmed in Mr Firmin's barn in Blean, just outside Canterbury, Kent.

Bagpuss, Professor Yaffle and Gabriel the Toad
Bagpuss was often joined by Professor Yaffle and Gabriel the Toad

"He's stood the test of time; he's still a favourite. I think my father would be so proud that he's still as popular as when he first came out," Emily, an artist, said.

Despite only 13 episodes ever being made, the programme remained a much-loved watch down the generations and was voted the all-time favourite children's programme in 1999.

Bagpuss would come to life after Emily left the animals alone, with the film then changing from sepia to colour.

And when Bagpuss awoke, so did his friends: Professor Yaffle the woodpecker bookend, Gabriel the toad and Madeleine the rag doll, as well as the musical mice on their magical mouse organ.

Firmin and Postgate create show
Peter Firmin (left) and Oliver Postgate created numerous much-loved characters through their production company Smallfilms, such as Pogle's Wood
Firmin and clanger at Bafta
Peter Firmin said getting a Bafta in 2014 was "touching"

Together they inspected whatever item Emily had left them.

Gabriel and Madeleine - voiced by John Faulkner and Sandra Kerr - provided songs and stories, although the mice often sang too.

Today, Bagpuss is on show at The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury.

"Each episode had a different storyline and covered so much and [they were] slightly educational as well. It is amazing that he's so popular," Emily added.

"My sister remembers coming home from school and the fabric was laid out all over our garden on the lawn for [my father] to cut the pieces out.

"It was very much the norm seeing films made at my home, it didn't seem odd. It was amazing, a very big, family-orientated production."

Mr Firmin, from Harwich, Essex, also masterminded Ivor the Engine and The Clangers with Mr Postgate, and won a Bafta for "a lifetime's achievement in delighting children" in 2014.

He was awarded an honorary degree at the University of Essex in 2015 and died in 2018.

Follow East of England news on Facebook, Instagram and X. Got a story? Email or WhatsApp 0800 169 1830