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TV timewarp.

Byline: By Graham Pratt

Programme of the Week: Clangers

First episode transmitted: November 16, 1969.

Last episode transmitted: October 10, 1974.

THERE can't be a 30 or 40-something in Britain today who didn't find themselves in front of the telly at 5.35 most evenings in the 1970s.

That was the time BBC1 would bring us five magical minutes with The Magic Roundabout, The Barbapapas, Crystal Tipps and Alistair, and this classic from Oliver Postgate.

Postgate, with designer Peter Firmin, ran Smallfilms, and for a small company brought a huge amount of enjoyment to children of all ages ( and still does.

They had created Ivor the Engine for ITV, but defected to the BBC and the 5.35pm slot. Next came Noggin the Nog, the Viking prince married to the Eskimo Nooka. Who could forget his arch enemy ( and uncle ( Nogbad the Bad.

After Pogles' Wood, Postgate decided to join in the spirit of space adventure and four months after man landed on the Moon, the Clangers appeared. Pink elephant-like creatures, they made high-pitched penny whistle sounds to communicate and pulled their ears over their eyes when they were frightened.

They lived inside their moon-like planet, dotted with metal bin lids, and shared it with the Soup Dragon and the Froglets, strange orange things who travelled in a top hat and lived in a horizontal pond at the centre of the planet.

Within the episodes were mini moral tales. When they are showered with gold coins, the Clangers turn avaricious, hoarding them and don't speak to each other, until that is, they discover them to be made of chocolate. In another episode a television lands, bewitching the little pink things. They feed it soup which makes it angry and they eject it back into space.

Morals: Don't be greedy and don't be brainwashed.

The show ended in 1972, but bizarrely returned for an election special in October 1974 when they urged us to Vote for Froglet. Harold Wilson won the General Election that day. Froglet may have lost his deposit.

On TV 20 years ago (February 16-22 1985):

Michael Grade, who a year earlier had taken over as Controller of BBC1, launched a new look. In came five nights a week: Wogan. On his first show Terry brought us Elton John, Tina Turner and Wendy Richard. Miss Richard was plugging the BBC's big new show, which started on Tuesday February 19. It was, of course, EastEnders. Soap life would never be the same again.

Also that week there were new series for Fame, Only Fools and Horses and the final series of Are You Being Served.

On TV 15 years ago (February 17-23 1990):

Jim'll Fix It celebrated 15 years on the box by helping a 12-year-old become a guest on Wogan, which celebrated its fifth anniversary.

One year on from the infamous live Samantha Fox/Mick Fleetwood Brits, Cathy McGowan brought us a delayed recording. Up for the awards were Nigel Kennedy, Phil Collins, Neneh Cherry and Soul II Soul.

Karl Howman ( now to be seen in those Flash ads ( returned as Jacko the painter and decorator in a new series of Brush Strokes.

On TV 10 years ago (February 18-24 1995):

BBC2 brought us the daily round-ups from The Trial of OJ Simpson.

Michael Barrymore entertained Cliff Richard.

Nicholas Lyndhurst returned in a new series of Goodnight Sweetheart.

Madonna gave her first UK performance in 10 years in The Brits.

Michael Elphick starred as jaded hack Harry.

On TV 5 years ago (February 12-18 2000):

Panorama investigated Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, where the organs of 850 children were kept in jars on laboratory shelves for years.

Channel 4's controversial Russell T Davies drama Queer As Folk, starring Newcastle-born teenager Charlie Hunnam, returned for a final run.

Viewers were asked to vote for their favourite EastEnders moment as the show celebrated 15 years on TV.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2005
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