Pingwings

screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-8-06-43-pmIf you’re in the mood for penguins, but find Pingu a bit too boisterous and March of the Penguins a bit too dramatic, then Pingwings might be just what you’re looking for. It’s a sweet, gentle, and gently humorous show, which tells of the adventures of a family of hand-knit penguin-like creatures living on a farm, with mixed stop motion animation and live action. It’s one of the earlier shows by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s company Smallfilms (best known for Bagpuss and the Clangers). The original Pingwings were knit by Peter’s wife Joan. You can knit your own following this pattern from The Dragons’ Friendly Society.

Age: 0+
Child rating: 8
Adult rating: 8
Running time: 10 minute episodes
Available: a few episodes are available on Youtube, or you can order the whole series from The Dragons’ Friendly Society

Ivor the Engine

If your child likes trains, and you’re trying to keep Thomas the Tank Engine out of the house, I’d highly recommend Ivor the Engine instead! This is another great Oliver Postgate/Peter Firmin production from the 70’, set in Wales. It features lots of sweet stories of village life. The music, by Vernon Elliot, is pleasant and well-composed, and features bassoon.

Age: 2 1/2+
Child rating: 10/10
Adult rating: 10/10
Running time: 1950s episodes are 10 minutes, 1970s episodes are 5 minutes
Some episodes available free on Youtube

Bagpuss

This is a great British show from the 70’s, made by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin of Smallfilms. Only 13 episodes were ever made, but it seems like every British kid from the 70’s until now grew up watching it. The beginning and ending of each episode is the same, and it’s always very gentle, calm, and creative. Each episode, the characters fix something that has been found broken, and tell stories about it. The art is beautiful and varied. The music is a great collection of English folk revival songs, some traditional, and some written for the show. Initially we were sad to learn that there are only 13 episodes, but M. loves the first two episodes that he watched, Ship in a Bottle and The Mouse Mill, so much that we just end up watching them over and over again, and have hardly seen any of the others! We still enjoy watching these episodes, but are looking forward to when M. will let us see some of the others as well!

Age: 1+
Child rating: 10/10
Parent rating: 10/10
Running time: 15-minute episodes
Most episodes are available free on youtube