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Seeing Things: An Autobiography Paperback – 4 May 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Paperback, 4 May 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (4 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330390007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330390002
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,080,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

Oliver Postgate and Peter Mandelson share an unlikely pedigree: apart from being master puppeteers, albeit in different theatres, they both had a grandfather vital to the history of the Labour Party. While Mandelson had Herbert Morrison to look up to, Postgate's mother was the daughter of George Lansbury, one of the founders of the parliamentary party. Presumably, this distinguished statesman was responsible in part for the slightly wild, loveable idealist who emerges from this agreeably singular biography.

From his rapacious memory spring forth the details of an unconventional life, from early family memories (his father Ray started The Good Food Guide), education at Dartington Hall, a stint in prison as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, through a succession of jobs until he found the perfect blend of acting, writing and invention in the formative years of children's television. With artist Peter Firmin, and working from a disused cow byre in Canterbury utilising anything that came to hand, they created a dozen or so worlds that have never gone away, from Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine to The Clangers (created and screened originally at the time of the Apollo moonshot). If your penchant is Bagpuss, then nearly 300 pages of personal history pass, at times as baggy as the saggy old cloth cat himself, but the background details are fascinating, such as the fact that the humourless Professor Yaffle was based in part on philosopher Bertrand Russell.

Determinedly unquestioning of his art, Postgate's life leaps off the page with a beguiling conviction, particularly when describing an epiphanic "peak experience" after an operation, which caused him to alter his view of the world and himself, and gave rise to the book's title. Dropped unceremoniously by the BBC when they were deemed not to have the "hook" modern children desired, Postgate is now kept, in his anecdotage, by the wave of nostalgia which has engulfed his single-frame films, and which finally offers him a proper return for the pleasurable memories he's inspired in so many. In a world of increasing homogeneity, such creative mavericks deserve to be cherished, and read. --David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'A glorious gallimaufry that manages to be amusing, affecting, instructive and inspiring.' Daily Mail"

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By A Customer on 27 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
Before reading this, I was quite unaware of the author's very varied career, knowing him only as the creator of some memorable animated children's programmes. I now feel I know him personally, as a modest, good-hearted man, dismissive of his own achievements as a writer and artist and mainly concerned with living life to the full whilst showing consideration for others. It was with heartfelt regret that I turned the last page.
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By A Customer on 20 May 2001
Format: Paperback
SEEING THINGS is far more than just a humourous account of a colourful life. Humour, colour and beautiful writing abound, but this book is above all a profound and deeply moving record of the life of an ordinary man who sees clearly and whose understanding of the human condition and the very nature of life itself cannot fail to inspire and delight a perceptive reader....Do not fail to buy this book. Life is not complete without it.
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Format: Audio Cassette
"Still wearing his academic cap and gown, Bagpuss looks down from the high basket where he lives. His eyes are glass and have no truck with age or mortality. Perhaps he has always known that he was to be immortal..."
Festooned with Peter Firmin's wonderful illustrations, and interrupted only by two selections of personal photographs, this is the life and works of the creator of Small Films, in his own, touching words. Alexander the Mouse, Bagpuss, The Clangers, The Dogwatch, Ivor the Engine, The Journey of Master Ho, Noggin the Nog, Pingwings, The Pogles, Pinny's House, and still more worlds from the imaginations of Postgate and Firmin. About a dozen distinct sets of programmes created for children's television by Oliver Postgate and his collaborators (mostly Firmin) spanned the years from 1958 to 1986, and continue to be repeated and revered by generations of present and former little people of all ages.
What led him to such a career? Postgate's maternal grandfather was the prominent 1930s labour leader, George Lansbury. In childhood, his family had him playing party games with the likes of Bertrand Russell, and H.G. Wells (the "short wide frenzied man with a squeaky voice, who bullied people to play games and hated losing"). His own father, Raymond, founded and compiled the original 'Good Food Guide'. And one of his drama school friends, Ivan Owen, called upon by Postgate in his early days of television to spend hours at a time sitting under a table with his arm up Fred Barker in 'The Dogwatch', went on to become 'the man who gives Basil Brush a hand.' The stuff of legend!
How could a man with such a pedigree not be a success? And yet it took Oliver Postgate numerous attempts to find himself a career that would last.
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Format: Paperback
I rarely read autobiographies -- make that never to date -- but for some reason even when I picked this book up it struck a chord and I'm delighted I did. From Postgate's early life, through the time of creating Ivor the Engine, Pogles Wood, the Clangers, Bagpuss et al, to his later years this is a warm, funny telling of a busy life. It leaves a glow after reading! Thank you Mr. Postgate.
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Format: Hardcover
I came to this book, Seeing Things by Oliver Postgate, with a mild sense of curiosity, expecting it to be a quick skim-through rather than an in-depth read. How wrong I was. Within a few pages I was hooked on this witty, beguiling life-story, a tribute to a man who reminds us how much we can use the gifts and opportunities presented to us to live a truly full life.

Most people will remember Oliver Postgate as the creator of Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog,The Clangers and Bagpuss- wonderful children's television series which he created with his business partner Peter Firmin. His eminence as a maker of childrens' programmes was however a hard-won thing, and Oliver lived a precarious existence through the early years of television, turning his hand to a huge range of occupations while supporting his family.

Oliver was born in 1925 to North London parents of a socialist inclination. Brought up in Hendon, Oliver was exposed to a wide range of people who had a degree of influence in forming the early Labour movement, not least his maternal grandfather, George Lansbury, one-time leader of the Labour Party.

The family were adventurous, and in 1938, Oliver's parents, Ray and Daisy decided to take their family on a cycling tour of France, conscious that war-clouds were looming and such a tour may not be possible in years to come. Oliver's description of this tour is evocative of pre-war France, the family meandering across rivers and through the gates of mediaeval towns, with picnic lunches being eaten on the green banks of shady streams.

When war came, Oliver decided to become a conscientious objector.
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Format: Paperback
Oliver Postage's legacy in children's' programming brings a warm sense of nostalgia to the many generations of children who grew up watching Small Films' brand of no-nonsense storytelling, using animation budgets that put big modern studios to shame to bring some of the most imaginative animated characters of the British silver screen. So Seeing Things paints a portrait of Postage as someone who had an interesting, if chaotic, life, in which he stumbled into this field of animated film-making on a shoestring after an eclectic working life, which he considered at times as mis-adventures.
Whilst die-hard fans of Postage's programmes like Bagpuss, The Clangers, or Noggin the Nog, may be disappointed, as it does not go into detail into the production process of making these series. However, for people who are reading it out of interest of this figure will at least appreciate that Postage had an inventive mind as they read into his engineering endeavours, to his politically motivated ideologies growing up through the Second World War and Cold War as philosophical gold. Reading about how he tackled such issues as solar power and nuclear arms will give a new experienced perspective on such issues raised through the 20th Century.
Seeing Things is an excellent memoir for an interesting figure in children's' television, and makes an essential reading for not fans of such beloved children's' programmes, but also an excellent memoir chronically through an eventful era of the 20th Century through the eyes of a somewhat inventive and down to earth creative
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