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Blean: Clangers and Bagpuss creator Peter Firmin dies

By Katie Davis

Clangers co-creator Peter Firmin has died at the age of 89.

A founder of Smallfilms, known for childhood favourites The Clangers and Bagpuss, Mr Firmin lived in Blean with his family.

The company was originally a partnership between Oliver Postgate and Mr Firmin, a popular artist and puppet maker.

Peter Firmin
Peter Firmin

Classics such as Bagpuss, The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Pogles' Wood provided the backdrop for countless childhoods.

Although born in Essex, the model-maker moved to Kent in 1959 after marrying his wife Joan seven years earlier.

It was Joan's skill with knitting needles with created the iconic pink Clangers - and she even made the feet for Bagpuss.

The pair had six daughters, living on the farm in Blean where Smallfilms produced many of their programmes.

Peter and Joan Firmin
Peter and Joan Firmin

One daughter, Emily, appeared in the opening sequences for Bagpuss.

Mr Firmin was also behind the creation of comedy character Basil Brush, alongside Ivan Owen.

Former Cantebury City Council leader Alex Perkins says he is "heartbroken" at the news.

"I loved this man," he said.

"Doing impressions of the Clangers during a speech proposing him for Freedom of the City of Canterbury is one of my happiest memories.

"You lit-up my childhood Peter and I am proud to have met you."

In recognition of his work, Mr Firmin was awarded the Freedom of the City of Canterbury in 2011.

Actress and television presenter Floella Benjamin paid tribute to the artist.

She said: "I have such fond memories of working with Peter Firmin.

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Pic: Smallfilms
Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Pic: Smallfilms

"All he wanted to do was to create magic to stimulate kids minds through his creative vision."

Spandau Ballet star Martin Kemp also shared his condolences, tweeting "RIP Peter".

For many generations of children, creations by Smallfilms were at the heart of happiness.

The production company made animations from 1959 until the late 1980s.

Peter Firmin and the Clanger puppets at the Sidney Cooper Centre, Canterbury
Peter Firmin and the Clanger puppets at the Sidney Cooper Centre, Canterbury

In 1999, Bagpuss was voted the the UK's favourite children's television programme in a poll run by BBC.

It was narrated by Oliver Postagte, who died in December 2008.

Mr Firmin is survived by wife Joan, his six children, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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