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Peter Firmin (1928 -2018)

July has begun with some very sad news- Britsh animation icon Peter Firmin has passed away at the age of 89.  Firmin is known as the co-founder of Smallfilms, where along with the similarly much-missed Oliver Postgate he created some of the most beloved children's series in British television history.

His works included The Clangers, Noggin The Nog, Ivor The Engine and perhaps their most fondly remembered series of all, Bagpuss.  Firmin had a long and fruitful working relationship and (lifelong friendship) with Postgate, starting with a series called Alexander The Mouse, which (remarkably) was broadcast live, on which Firmin painted the backgrounds, and ultimately leading to the setting up of Smallfilms.

The majority of their work was produced in the unlikely location of a barn on Firmin's farm (in Blean, a village outside Canterbury, Kent). Firmin produced the artwork and most of the models (although the original Clangers were knitted by Firmin's wife, Joan). Outside of Smallfilms, Firmin also created puppets for numerous other children's programs, and in 1962 he co-created Basil Brush with Ivan Owen. After retiring from TV production he worked as an illustrator (including several books based on Smallfilms characters) and also worked as a printmaker and engraver.

In 2014, Firmin collaborated with Postgate's son Daniel on a revival of The Clangers for the BBC.

He received several accolades for his work, including an honorary degree from the University of Kent and the freedom of the city of Canterbury, as well as being honoured with a special BAFTA in 2014. Their characters were even honoured with a commemorative set of stamps from The Royal Mail.

Firmin's work was hugely influential on generations of British stop-motion animators and artists, and is a fondly remembered part of many childhoods. Although Smallfilms stopped making series in the late 80's (until the revival, at least) they've remained very much part of public consciousness. His passing has been met with a flood of glowing tributes not only from animation lovers, but also the wider public, proving just how much his work meant to so many. His work is sure to live on for many years to come.

Rest in peace, sir.