Dr Rachel Moseley, Director of the Centre for Television History, Heritage and Memory Research at the University of Warwick has written the first scholarly study of much loved children’s stop-frame programmes of the 60s and 70s.
The book, Hand-Made Television, examines programmes including The Pingwings (ITV, 1961), Pogle’s Wood (1966), Camberwick Green (BBC, 1967) and Clangers (BBC, 1969) and theorises the effect of the 'hand-made' aesthetic which characterises the programmes of the creators Smallfilms, Gordon Murray Puppets and FilmFair.
Dr Moseley’s observations include:
• Part of the programmes' power resides in the way qualities of movement produced by the stop-frame process echo the movements made by the child's hand at play
• The relationship between the programmes' themes and aesthetics and the discursive contexts of the period of their production, e.g. the counter-culture and growing concern with environmentalism
• The programmes' construction of Englishness through their setting in a pastoral national past
Stop-frame children’s television is, fundamentally, about ‘things’ that move. The stop-frame process produces a magic around movement, which seems simultaneously independent of the animators and in an intimate relationship with the child’s hand at play as it jumps or slides toys around in space. In this sense, the animator’s hand stands in for the child’s, producing a closeness to the television image which is bound up in the space between the screen and the domestic setting.
The programmes of Smallfilms and Gordon Murray Puppets appear hand-made, crafted.
Their ‘hand-made’ aesthetic – the visibility of the maker’s mark so critical to the discourse of craft – means that these programmes have operated around an address based on intimacy, DIY participation and an imagined closeness to the child’s real life environment (of crafted toys and play with small things).
Stop-frame animated children’s television of the 1960s and early 1970s constructs a palliative space of childhood play and imagination rooted in a vision of a traditional, even archaic, rural South of England. From the magical woodland settings of Smallfilms’ Pogles, through the orderly country villages of Gordon Murray’s Trumptonshire, FilmFair's The Wombles, and even the displaced, unspoiled outer-space environment of Clangers, this television leads the child viewer through real spaces in which magic still resides, orderly toytowns where everyone has their place and gradually into more urban green spaces now under threat. In these programmes, tradition and modernity co-exist in a complex and negotiated relationship.
Dr Rachel Moseley Director of the Centre for Television History, Heritage and Memory Research at the University of Warwick said,
“I’m delighted to be able to present my research and findings in my new book. I hope that it will encourage different generations to experience and re-experience the joy of these programmes and in doing so help to raise awareness of the historical value of stop-frame children’s television. These programmes remain a significant cultural phenomenon and it has been exciting to document this for the first time.”
Dr Rachel Moseley is available for further comment or interview, contact Alex Buxton: email@example.com / 07876 218166
Review copies of the book are available from: firstname.lastname@example.org
The book, ‘Hand-Made Television: Stop-Frame Animation for Children in Britain, 1961–74’ published by Palgrave Macmillan is available to purchase:
Tel: 02476 150423
Mob: 07876 218166