We asked Oliver Postgate (who is a very nice man, and very patient, despite the fact we sent him twenty yards of fax) to answer some questions about the Clangers for us. We got very over-excited when he wrote back.
We hope you get just as excited about his answers. Particularly the bit about the Melons.
Hooting aliens on a moon with crater lids. How on earth do you come up with an idea like that? And... why pink knitting?
The Clangers are not in any way alien. They are a perfectly ordinary family living in a detached residence. Nor, in reality, do they hoot or whistle. As there is no atmosphere to carry sound they converse in NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) which is not audible. So we had to fabricate an imitation as best we could. The crater lids are essential to keep out the mass of sharp and often insanitary debris of the Space Programme that hurtles about in space.
We did not 'come up with an idea' as you put it. The first Clanger was sighted over 800 years ago (see the book Noggin and the Moonmouse ( it's been out of print for decades)). They have evolved a lot since then by natural selection and are pink because that was the colour of Joan Firmin's wool.
Where are the Clangers now?
They live with Peter Firmin, in retirement.
Did you intend the show to appeal to adults as well as children?
Anybody is welcome to watch the films. We had no intentions.
Are you surprised that the Clangers (and The Clangers, and all of the other Smallfilms creations) have such enduring appeal? What do you think has made them such classics?
Their appeal is not 'enduring' For many years after they were made the films were regarded as being too old-fashioned and slow for 'today's children' (or some such codswallop). Yesteryear's children have now grown up and they want them back.
Can you tell us something nobody else knows about the Clangers?
They smell, not unpleasantly, of ripe melons.
See Oliver Postgate talking about the Clangers in our video clip >>