Tuesday, November 12

Stage: Noggin the nog

- April 28, 2015

Classic Postgate and Firmin takes to the stage at the Theatre Royal Brighton as part of Brighton Festival

There is a generation of British men and women who grew up on a rich diet of beautifully made children’s programmes and amongst the best are the works created by Small Films and writer Oliver Postgate and illustrator and puppet maker Peter Firmin. Sadly Postgate passed away in 2008 leaving behind a wealth of much loved books, films and above all characters.

I loved them all, from Olly Barker and Fred Beak, The Pingwings, The Clangers, Ivor The Engine, The Pogles, Bagpuss, Basil Brush and my favourite Noggin The Nog. For me they all knocked spots off the rest of TV’s kids programming. Postgate’s scripts were a delight but I loved the wonderful work of Firmin, the characterful puppets were excellent of course but it was the beautiful images of Noggin The Nog and his cohorts and enemies that I loved best.
When I saw that The Sagas of Noggin The Nog, a new stage production based on the TV films was to come to the Theatre Royal Brighton as part of the Brighton Festival I was more than excited, even though it is very much aimed at a younger audience. I suspect that the real draw will be for men and women who grew up on a diet of Small Films’ genius through the 1960s and 70s.

This is Third Party’s first piece of theatre specifically for family audiences. These words will resonate and bring back very happy memories… “In the lands of the North where the black rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale…”
Viking storytellers recreate the wonderful world of Noggin in this new piece of theatre for children, families and fans. With silly Vikings, puppets, projection and live music, accompanied by the brave and mighty ThorNogson and the great green bird Graculus, we will be taken on a journey of adventure and discovery, to battle against the fearsome dragon and the dastardly deeds of Noggin’s wicked Uncle, Nogbad The Bad!
Ruth Herbert, who made some of the beautiful puppets is, by the way, Peter Firmin’s grand-daughter.
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Peter based the drawings of Noggin and the other characters, on the Lewis Chess Pieces which were uprooted from a sand dune in Uig Bay in 1831 by a poor superstitious soul who ran away thinking they were elves. Peter decided they were Nogs. The great majority of these chess pieces are in the British Museum but from next year, you will be able to see them at Lews Castle, Stornaway.

The association between Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin began in 1958 with Alexander The Mouse which they produced for Rediffusion’s magnetic animation system. This went out live and was as hazardous as it sounds, with figures dropping off, turning round and whizzing across the screen.
Noggin The Nog was made in single frame animation by Smallfilms – set up in a barn at Peter and Joan Firmin’s farmhouse in Kent and ‘King Of The Nogs’ was first shown in its black and white version in 1959. It is this version of the film which we reference in the play.
For over forty years Postgate and Firmin have been synonymous with the best in children’s television. Their classic films are still loved by viewers of all ages. With simple techniques and delightful story telling, (children’s entertainment once moved at a less frenetic pace) this is a piece of theatre to sit and watch together with your children – or if like me you are a fan, on your own.

Noggin The Nog, Theatre Royal Brighton Sat 23 May, 5pm, Sun 24 May, 11am, 2pm & 5pm
Box office 01273 709709
Books and DVDs are published by The Dragon’s Friendly Society: www.dragons-friendly-society.co.uk
Peter’s current work can be seen at: www.peterfirmin.co.uk


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