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Series / Bagpuss

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Once upon a time...
not so long ago...
there was a little girl and her name was Emily.
And she had a shop.
—Opening narration

The shop, Bagpuss & Co, was very unusual in that it never sold anything; it was full of things that people had lost and Emily had found. This business model is never called into question.

Bagpuss is an Oliver Postgate/Smallfilms animation, which means it works at approximately three frames per second. Most of the show was produced using Stop Motion, except for some of the stories and songs which were illustrated by paper cutout animation. Postgate had used both techniques before, but had never combined them in a single series. Some of the scenes involving Gabriel singing included a few live-action shots of him strumming his guitar, and the opening titles depict Emily in a series of sepia-tinted still photographs.

Each episode begins with Emily leaving some item in the shop. When she has gone, Bagpuss and his friends wake up and try to figure out what the object is, and repair it. In the process they tell lots of stories (based on folk tales from around the world) and sing songs.


Bagpuss is still fondly remembered (there is even a Shout-Out to it in Spaced), and is widely regarded as the pinnacle of Postgate's career, along with The Clangers.

Main characters:

  • Emily, who only appears in the title sequence.
  • Bagpuss, an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams. But Emily loved him.
  • The mice, decorations on the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ. The mice clean and repair the week's object whilst singing cheerfully.
  • Professor Yaffle, a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker. Yaffle lends his rather fusty expertise to working out what the object is.
  • Madeleine the rag doll, who tells stories.
  • Gabriel the toad, who plays the banjo.


This series contains examples of:

  • British Brevity: Thirteen episodes were made.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Professor Yaffle is always pooh-poohing anything fanciful, but without Bagpuss's magic he would just be a bookend.
  • Living Toys: all except Professor Yaffle, who is a bookend.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Professor Yaffle, who tends to be quite pedantic in what is possible and what isn't, and is almost always wrong.
  • Species Surname: A stranger example, Professor Yaffle comes from 'Yaffle', another word for a European green woodpecker.
  • Opening Narration: See the quote at top of page. There is also a closing narration.
  • Romanticism vs. Enlightenment: The pedantic and rationalist Professor Yaffle vs, well, the rest of the cast. A relatively nuanced example, though, as Yaffle does clearly enjoy art and likes good stories, even if they are "silly".
  • Team Mom: Madeleine tends to play this, sorting out disputes between the toys with her calmer maternal nature.
  • Stop Motion: All of the action involving the main characters and some of the stories, except for short live-action shots when Gabriel is strumming his guitar.


Example of: