Who is Bagpuss?

Once upon a time,
Not so long ago,
There was a little girl and her name was Emily.
And she had a shop.
There it is.
It was a rather unusual shop because it didn't sell anything.
You see, everything in that shop was a thing that somebody had once lost,
And Emily had found,
And brought home to Bagpuss.
Emily's cat Bagpuss.
The most important,
The most beautiful,
The most magical,
Saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.

Well now, one day Emily found a thing.
She brought it back to the shop,
And put it down in front of Bagpuss,
Who was in the shop window fast asleep as usual.
But then Emily said some magic words.

"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss,
Old fat furry cat-puss,
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.

Wake up, be bright,
Be golden and light,
Bagpuss, O hear what I sing."

[Bagypuss yawns deeply.]

And Bagpuss was wide awake.
And when Bagpuss wakes up all his friends wake up too.
The mice on the mouse-organ woke up and stretched.
[Stretchy "eeee" noises from the mice.]

Madeleine, the rag doll. [stretches soundlessly]

Gabriel, the toad. [croaks]

And last of all, Professor Yaffle, who was a very distinguished old woodpecker.
He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was Emily had brought.


[At this point, Professor Yaffle and the rest examine the strange, battered broken object, and Bagpuss settles down to hear a story based on it; sometimes he thinks hard and the story appears in a think bubble over his head, or the mice load a song roll and the animation appears on the screen of "the marvelous, mechanical mouse organ", showing a story about the object, narrated by one of the characters. A song is sung (often with Gabriel playing his banjo) and if the song doesn't work the magic, the mice fix whatever the object is, singing the "we will fix it, we will stitch it, we will make it new, new, new" song in their high-pitched voices, and the mended thing is dragged to the shop window to be sold.

Episodes I remember are the chocolate biscuit machine where the mice poured unlikely ingredients in one end and out came one biscuit after another, but they wouldn't let Bagpuss eat any of the biscuits and it turned out they were just rolling the same one round and round. Or the one about the bagpipe creature that could be heard skirling in the Highlands, or the story of "The Frog Princess" where the princess decides she'd be happier turning into a frog, or the mice who rowed a ballet shoe down a stream of orange juice...]


Bagpuss gave a big yawn, and settled down to sleep.
And of course when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.
The mice were ornaments on the mouse-organ.
Gabriel and Madeleine were just dolls.
And Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.
Even Bagpuss himself once he was asleep was just an old, saggy cloth cat.
Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams.
But Emily loved him.

You can hear sound clips from Bagpuss, in the RealAudio format,
over at Nigel Baker's excellent Bagpuss pages; he has episode guides,
info about other SmallFilm productions and even has the names for all the mice!

Want to discuss your passion for Bagpuss, Clangers and other classic kids tv?
There's a new mailing list to join.

Learn more about all these old kids tv programmes at Past Perfect

This page specially for Mairi.


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