Once upon a time,
Not so long ago,
There was a little girl and her name was Emily.
And she had a shop.
There it is.
It was a rather unusual shop because it didn't sell anything.
You see, everything in that shop was a thing that somebody had once lost,
And Emily had found,
And brought home to Bagpuss.
Emily's cat Bagpuss.
The most important,
The most beautiful,
The most magical,
Saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.
Well now, one day Emily found a thing.
She brought it back to the shop,
And put it down in front of Bagpuss,
Who was in the shop window fast asleep as usual.
But then Emily said some magic words.
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss,
Old fat furry cat-puss,
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring.
Wake up, be bright,
Be golden and light, Bagpuss,
O hear what I sing."
And Bagpuss was wide awake.
And when Bagpuss wakes up all his friends wake up too.
The mice on the mouse-organ woke up and stretched.
Madeleine the rag doll
Gabriel, the toad.
And last of all, Professor Yaffle, who was a very distinguished old woodpecker.
He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was Emily had brought.
Created by Oliver Postgate
and Peter Firmin
company who were also responsible for The Clangers
, Ivor the Engine
, and Noggin the Nog
, Bagpuss has become a cult
children’s programme despite only having a single run of 13 episodes which was initially shown in 1974 but has been repeated many times since.
The story centred around Bagpuss himself, who was a pink cloth cat, with cream coloured stripes who lived in a 'unusual' shop which never sold anything, called Bagpuss & Co., alongside his friends. At the beginning of each episode, Emily would sing to Bagpuss to wake him up. Then Professor Yaffle would examine the object and, either Bagpuss would think about it, or the mice would load a song into the mouse organ to tell a story about whatever it was. Then Gabriel and Madeleine would sing a song about the object whilst the mice swarmed all over it fixing it singing 'we will fix it, we will stitch it, we will make it new, new, new'
Emily was the little girl who owned the shop, and brought all of the lost items to Bagpuss and his friends to fix. She was based on Peter Firmins daughter, Emily, and played by her in the title sequence.
Properly known as Augustus Barclay Yaffle, this carved wooden bookend is the brains of the outfit, but can be quite arrogant. The mice are always playing tricks on him to bring him back down to earth
Madeleine the Rag Doll
Madeleine Remnant is a rag doll, who sits in a wicker chair, she sings songs with Gabriel and tells stories to the mice about the object s in the shop.
Gabriel the Toad
Gabriel Croaker is the minstrel of the team, and is often paired up with Madeleine to sing songs, playing along on his banjo
The mice and their Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ, which plays music and shows films, are the mainstay of the show. There were actually six named mice Charlie, Eddie, Jennie, Janie, Lizzie and Willie who fix and clean the items brought into the shop
- Ship in A Bottle - Emily brings back several pieces of wood in a bottle, and Professor Yaffle identifies it as a ship in a bottle.
- The Owls of Athens - An old piece of cloth turns up in the shop which, when cleaned by the mice, turns out to be a cushion cover, embroidered with owl, and the word 'Athens'. Madeleine starts to tell a story about the Owls beautiful singing
- The Frog Princess - Emily brings in some ornamental enamel pieces, and characters decide that it is the necklace belonging to a Frog Princess.
- The Ballet Shoe - An old shoe is left in the shop, and the mice clean it and decide to use it as a house
- The Hamish - Emily presents Bagpuss with floppy tartan cloth thing which Bagpuss thinks is a Scottish beastie known as the Hamish. which makes a terrible noise similar to a pair of bagpipes being played backwards, he then tells a story about Tavish McTavish who was a friend to the Hamishes.
- The Wise Man - The mice fix a mechanical Chinaman. and Professor Yaffle tells the story of the wise man of Ling-Po who just wanted to be left to live in peace on his island and talk to his friends the turtles (my favourite episode)
- The Elephant - An elephant with no ears appears, leading Bagpuss to ponder where they have gone.
- The Mouse Mill - Emily brings a wooden box to the shop, which the mice proclaim to chocolate biscuits out of breadcrumbs and butterbeans
- The Giant - The mice fix a Staffordshire figurine and think that its a giant, Madeleine tells a story of Mrs Smithers-Rowbottom who has a magic umbrella which glues things together
- Old Man's Beard - Emily brings in a bunch of tangled cottony plant. it is Old Man's Beard. Bagpuss tells them the story of the king who had a marvellously silver beard, and explains how a weaving machine works
- The Fiddle - An bucket which plays music shows up, and Professor Yaffle thinks there is a leprechaun hiding inside.
- Flying - When searching through a basket of oddments that appeared in the shop. The mice search the basket and find a twig broom, and Madeleine joins them to try and make a flying machine.
- Uncle Feedle - A piece of cloth arrives in the shop and the mice fold it up so that Bagpuss can use it as a thinking cap, and think of the story of Uncle Feedle.
Bagpuss gave a big yawn, and settled down to sleep.
And of course when Bagpuss goes to sleep, all his friends go to sleep too.
The mice were ornaments on the mouse-organ.
Gabriel and Madeleine were just dolls.
And Professor Yaffle was a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker.
Even Bagpuss himself once he was asleep was just an old, saggy cloth cat.
Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams.
But Emily loved him.