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The Clangers

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The Clangers is a gentle, British stop motion animated television program for children made by Smallfilms who were Oliver Postgate (writer and narrator) and Peter Firmin (modelmaker, animator and illustrator).

The first episode was broadcast by the BBC on November 16, 1969 and a further twenty-five episodes were made. The twenty sixth episode was broadcast on November 10, 1972 and the final Clangers programme was an election special on October 10, 1974. (This last episode has not been seen since its original broadcast, although it reportedly still exists.)

The program featured a number of small creatures living in peace and harmony on a small blue planet far away, nourished by Blue String Pudding[?], and Green Soup harvested from the planet's volcanic soup wells by the Soup Dragon. The Clangers looked similar to mice, though they were pink, wore clothes, and spoke in whistles (of a modulating type: the Clangers' sounds were produced on swanee whistles). The series creators have said that the Clangers, living in vacuum, did not actually communicate by sound, but rather by a type of nuclear magnetic resonance, which was translated to audible whistles for the human audience. These whistles followed the rhythm and intonation of a script in the English language, including swear-words! The action was also narrated by a separate voice-over from Postgate.

The principal characters are:

  • Major Clanger
  • Mother Clanger
  • Small Clanger
  • The Soup Dragon
  • Tiny Clanger
  • The Iron Chicken

In the Doctor Who story "The Sea Devils", The Master watches an episode of The Clangers on television and considers them a highly advanced species.

The characters are still very popular. For instance they appear on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, playing parts in plays not known to feature Clangers. There is also a musical soft toy of Tiny Clanger in production[1].

The original series has been released on video and DVD in the UK, and was being repeated on Channel 4 in early 2003.

[1] It is interesting to note that the Tiny Clanger toy actually plays a line "spoken" by Major Clanger on the occasion when the large doors of the main cave jam as they are opening: "Oh sod it! The bloody thing’s stuck again!"

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