The Clangers, CBeebies, review: Michael Palin's patented National Treasure drawl works a treat

Daniel Postgate's revival of his father's classic is every bit as lovely as you would want it to be - if your kids don't like it, they have no taste

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The Independent Culture

Not all remakes work (CGI Noddy, anyone?), not all comebacks are glorious (I’m looking at you, TFI Friday), but Daniel Postgate has resurrected his late father’s classic Clangers and it’s every bit as lovely as you would want it to be. For those who grew up with the whistle-voiced, knitted moon-mice this remake is like slipping on an old pair of trainers. As for the new generation – if your kids don’t like it, they have no taste.

Resisting new-fangled technology (there are no touchscreens in these tummies) the animation is still stop-motion and the Clangers themselves remain looking like the kind of thing your gran might knit. If you were concerned about your memory of the original show being ruined, then fear not. It certainly looks glossier than before but this feels and sounds like the Clangers of old, from the hoots and tweets of the Clangers, to the twiddly-twoddly music underscoring the whole dreamy thing.

Part of the joy of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s creations, from Ivor the Engine to Bagpuss, was Postgate’s gentle, unassuming narration. His is a voice that instantly transports those of a certain age to a time of milk, digestive biscuits and naps (I imagine there’s now a whole generation for whom Derek Jacobi has a similar, Proustian effect, thanks to In The Night Garden). Michael Palin is, of course, the ideal successor (though I must admit to being a tad jealous that the Americans are getting William Shatner. Shatner! Imagine the fun he’d have with lines like ‘Oh yes, the cloud couldn’t resist a good singsong.’).

Palin’s patented National Treasure drawl works perfectly as he (re)introduces us to the Clangers and the other inhabitants of their little world. The band are all back together, including old favourites such as The Soup Dragon and The Iron Chicken, with the nuts, bolts and scrap metal of the latter looking particularly impressive this time around. When a strong wind blows across the planet, Small Clanger’s ears wobble beautifully in the wind. It’s all supremely gentle, relaxing and, if you don’t have kids to watch it with, ideal company for a hangover.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around Tiny Clanger and some missing notes from The Music Tree. If you’re able to watch Tiny and Small Clanger toddle about the planet, hunting for the notes while laughing at their own echo and falling over, without a goofy grin on your face then you’re a stronger person than I am. ‘Where could the notes be?’ asks Palin, sounding genuinely concerned. Where indeed?! Turns out they were in a friendly cloud. Of course they were! Why can’t life always be like this?

Daniel Postgate has done his father proud. It might have lost the endearing clunkiness of the original (and seeing as Mother Clanger has done nothing so far but dry a tablecloth, it’s not going for any kind of gender equality angle) but it’s retained the spirit of a show beloved by so many. Joyful.

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