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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Clangers
The Classic Series
Complete Collection


Narrator: Oliver Postgate
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises


Certificate: U
Release Date: 30 October 2023

The Clangers were, rather oddly, part of the BBC’s response to the US Moon landings and somehow these knitted, animated aliens entirely fulfilled the brief. Their meandering adventures, wordless whistling dialogue and menagerie of strange friends proved to be so popular that they even appeared in a special party political broadcast, albeit for a Froglet, which spoofed the human equivalent in magnificent style.

The programmes were originally broadcast on BBC1 between 1969 and 1972 to great acclaim – the political special was a one-off in 1974 to tie in with national elections. It was also sold overseas, which prompted a broadcaster in Finland to ask – in all seriousness – how the production team knew Finnish! Even stranger, the swanee whistle language ‘spoken’ by the Clangers was all written out in English prior to recording.

The series was made by Smallfilms, a company comprised of writer, animator and narrator, Oliver Postgate, and model maker and illustrator, Peter Firmin. The two had previously created Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog, amongst many others, but The Clangers, along with Bagpuss, is doubtless a classic of children’s TV.

Each of the 26 episodes is an adventure – in the loosest sense of the word – that has a moral to it. This is mainly “be kind and generous”, which seems as good a message as any. There’s also plenty of quintessential British whimsy and some very soft humour. It’s a beguiling combination that’s effortlessly stood the test of timeless.

Of course, it’s not just the Clangers that make the programme what it is. Mentions must also go to the Froglets, the Soup Dragon and Baby Dragon, the Iron Chicken, the Sky Moos and a music tree. There’s even a human visitor at one point but he gets confused and rockets off back home without tasting the local delicacy, blue string pudding.

The Clangers is one of TV’s tiny treasures – it’s also impossible to properly describe as there’s never been anything quite like it, before or after. The style of animation is unsophisticated, but utterly brilliant, the plots barely exist, which is narrative perfection, and the dialogue is some of the best ever whistled.

This release is therefore a must. There’s not a single frame or swanee toot wasted across its entire run. Better still, the disc arrives with a grand documentary. Don’t vote for Froglet… vote for The Clangers.


Anthony Clark

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