When we talk of seminal or influential science-fiction/fantasy we don’t always pay enough tribute to the works produced for the very young. Whether this is in spite of or because of the way works for young children often have greater freedom of absurdity than works for adults, I don’t know. Either way, it is sad news that artist and maker of children’s television Peter Firmin has died aged 89 https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jul/01/bagpuss-clangers-basil-brush-creator-peter-firmin-dies-aged-89
For those not familiar with his 1970s TV shows, take as one example The Clangers.
Set on a asteroid in space, the Clangers were knitted pink aliens that look something like a pig or a mouse. Their homes are tunnels within the spherical moon-like rock and the craters are covered in dustbin lids. For food they eat soup. The soup comes from a soup dragon (obviously). They collect scrap metal and odds and ends. Their friend is a mechanical chicken. Musical notes grow on bushes and can power machines. It’s genius.
Take the opening narration of this episode (called The Intruder)
In the episode a robotic probe lands on the Clanger’s little planet with much resulting misunderstanding. I don’t think there are many first contact stories with humans from the alien’s perspective that manage to engender quite this level of empathy with the aliens (none of whom ever speak English).
The Clangers, Noggin the Nog, Bagpuss (including a wooden woodpecker based on Bertrand Russell), Ivor the Engine – weird, clever flights of the imagination. Wonderful in the proper sense of the word.