The Clangers reboot is another highlight in Michael Palin’s career

Palin says he was "immensely chuffed" to be asked to narrate the new version of classic children's TV show The Clangers.
The Clangers are a family of aliens. Courtesy Coolabi Productions
The Clangers are a family of aliens. Courtesy Coolabi Productions

Michael Palin’s latest TV role is as narrator of a revival of The Clangers, a fondly remembered British children’s TV show about a family of long-nosed, knitted pink aliens and their friends on another planet.

Although the original version of the show – created by Oliver Postgate, a legend in the history of British kids’ TV – ran for only two seasons between 1969 and 1972, it has delighted generations of children thanks to frequent repeats and home-media releases.

Palin says he was delighted to be asked to narrate the new version, which is now being broadcast on CBeebies in the region.

“I was immensely chuffed to be asked to take part,” he says. “It was a big hit when I was bringing my kids up in the 1960s and early 1970s – I loved it because it was so inventive and imaginative.

“I was always quite jealous of Ringo Starr getting the Thomas the Tank Engine-narration gig – to be able to share something you’d shared with your children with all the other children out there, too. It’s a great honour and undoubtedly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.”

Palin says he is not the only adult excited about the return of The Clangers.

“I think a large part of our audience in the UK have been ­middle-aged people watching it for nostalgia value, or a new generation of young parents watching it with their kids,” he says.

The show was a huge hit when it was broadcast in the UK, winning a Bafta last year.

Palin says the success of the new version is largely down to the fact that it remains faithful to the original, including the use of stop-­motion animation and original features such the Clangers’ strange, distinctive language of whistles. ­Favourite supporting characters also return, including the Soup Dragon and the Iron Chicken.

“It’s basically the same people doing it,” he says. “It was originally created by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate, who also narrated, and they basically did it in their back garden.

“Oliver has sadly passed away but his son, Dan, is a writer on the new version, and Peter is overseeing it.

“We’ve been faithful to the original. It’s still stop-motion animation, still woolly puppets, although it’s high-definition now and the models are more sophisticated – they’re much more flexible, with much greater subtlety in the ­movements.

“But it’s still basically just about a family on a planet out in space, and they reflect our own world in the things that they do and the things that go wrong, or right.

“It’s inventive and imaginative – and I think quite satirical in its ­way, too.”

cnewbould@thenational.ae

Published: September 4, 2016 04:00 AM

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