Monday, February 1, 2010

I've met the Clangers and nothing will ever be the same!

I woke up the other day to an email from Neil Gaiman.

In my world (and I suspect everyone else's) any day that begins with an email from Neil is a prime indicator that the day is going to be an extraordinary day.

And it was.

Neil wrote:


Has anyone ever pointed you at
Clangers, the UK TV series?

For years I've been wondering what Beanworld sort of reminded me of, and this evening watching a documentary it suddenly came into focus, and I thought, Clangers....

In a weird, upside down kind of way, mind....


I checked it out and watched the first Clangers that came up on YouTube: The Intruder.

I was immediately intrigued....then charmed....and by the introduction of the Music Trees I was Enchanted For Life!

I watched one episode after another.

My favorites being Music of the Spheres,
Music of the Trees,
The Tablecloth.

I wrote back to Neil:

No one has EVER mentioned the Clangers before.
Up until today, I've never HEARD of the Clangers, but now I've been thoroughly charmed and totally addicted!

And I am.

The Clangers were shown on BBC from 1969 to 1972. "The series was made by Smallfilms, the company set up by Oliver Postgate (writer and narrator) and Peter Firmin (modelmaker, animator and illustrator). Firmin designed the characters and his wife knitted and 'dressed' the Clangers. Music – which was often part of the story – was by Vernon Elliott."

The main characters are Major Clanger, Mother Clanger, Granny Clanger, Small Clanger, and Tiny Clanger. And then there is Soup-Dragon, Iron Chicken and the Froglets.

The little movies are described on Wikipedia as being "short stories about a family of mouse-like creatures who live on, and in, a small grey planet in dark space. They speak in whistles, and eat green soup harvested by the Soup Dragon."

The Clangers website says:

"A Clanger’s life is far from dull, theirs is a world where music grows on trees and notes, when collected may be used to propel space borne craft. It is a place where the most unexpected things can happen and usually do.

The problems and situation that arise, or perhaps arrive, in their world are of course, much the same as ours but as their circumstances are so different the ways they have of dealing with them are different - original, unexpected and often profoundly sensible."

Yeahhhhhhh...that sounds rather familiar, doesn't it?
And like Beanworld, there is a lot of emphasis on food!
Amazing stuff like Blue String Pudding and Soup Wells.

No need for me to blather on like and idiot...go see for yourself.

As Neil and I communicated back and forth on the particulars of my Clangers driven enlightenment, I told him that one of the extra-special reasons I found the Clangers so personally awe inspiring was : the Clangers have no mouths.

To digress a bit, anyone who has ever asked me about the possibility of Beanworld migrating to other media have generally heard me say something like:

"I'm game as long as whoever is considering it understands that the Beans have no mouths. Beans with mouths don't live in the Beanworld. Bean-like creatures with mouths are Veggie Tales, California Raisins, or those-two-worded-plush-doll-usurpers-from -over-the-sea-that-I-am-obligated-to -peacefully-co-exist-with. Beanworld can never have Beans with mouths!

Now that I've met the Clangers I recognize that one potential solution could be a narrator. Something to seriously ponder when (and if) the day ever comes when I'm told "But the audience won't understand it if they talk and don't have mouths"

As Cory always points out, no one was confused Dug the Dog while watching UP.
Dug did have a mouth but it didn't move as he talked.

As Neil wrote later:
And yes, the Clangers really did solve so many problems that you might get from Beanworld, including simply the problem of going "but this is too weird for the world?" and no, it's not.

He's right.
It's not.

I summed this all up when I wrote back:

"Meeting the Clangers has been is a game-changing/mind-blowing-experience for me and how to strategize negotiating with the Powers of the Entertainment Omniverse....something I haven't really been to keen on lately. Really cannot express how much this day has been appreciated here.

Neil's response was simple and to the point:

Dear Larry,
I made you happy!
This made my day.

And that, my friends, is a hell of a way to end a day!
Thanks, Neil!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for introducing me to the Clangers. Wonderful!
Billy Bones

Demian said...

Pretty much all of Oliver Postgate's stuff is magical. Clangers is the cream but Bagpuss, Nogin the Big & Ivory the Engine are all worth checking out, as is a BBC4 documentary about Postgate following his death last year.

Unknown said...

As per Dem, except I should probably point out for ease of searching that it's 'Noggin the Nog' and 'Ivor the Engine' (Noggin is a sort of mythical Viking and Ivor is a train from Wales).

Thetoymakers said...

Clangers = yes! And Bagpuss!

DrWatson said...

For a slightly different approach to creatures with no mouths, have a look at The Wombles. That had a narrator too, but he did different voices for the different Wombles, while they just twitched their snouts as they spoke.

Demian said...

Oops yes - not so smartphone predictive typing & observant types blaming his tools! Ta for corrections Rosie! Noggin the Nog & Ivor indeed.

mathew said...

You might also find Ludwig enjoyable.

I grew up in England, yet somehow the similarities between Clangers and Beanworld had never occurred to me.

Larry Marder said...

Thanks everyone...can't wait to check out Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss, and Wombles!
Thanks soooo much for all the tips and pointing me in these directions!