What’s on the telly?

Television programmes have been a regular theme of populist stamp issues in recent years. Are they intended to appeal to children, or grown-ups?

2014 Classic Children’s TV 1st class, showing Postman Pat

The existence of television did not even register on a British stamp until 1967, and individual programmes not until 1996. They have, however, featured increasingly regularly since then.

Part of the reason for the growth of this theme is the aim of sparking an interest in philately amongst children. Look closely, though, and you realise that many of the stamps have featured series which are more likely to invoke nostalgia amongst middle-aged collectors.

Four sets have been issued to celebrate the best of television programmes in general, from early classics to modern favourites. Of these, three have focused on series produced for children.

The 1996 Children’s Television set of five featured the string puppet Muffin the Mule with presenter Annette Mills (first broadcast in 1946), the glove puppet Sooty with his creator Harry Corbett (1948), the ‘supermarionation’ series Stingray created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (1964), the stop-motion animated aliens The Clangers created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (1969), and the secret agent Dangermouse animated by the Cosgrove Hall studio (1981).

Of these, Sooty, the Clangers and Dangermouse have enjoyed recent revivals, becoming familiar to a new generation of children.

2014 Classic Children’s TV 1st class, showing Postman Pat

A Classic Children’s TV set issued in 2014 honoured 12 more series, with an even wider chronological range. It comprised self-adhesive designs with partially freeform shapes, allowing each character to be projected beyond the square constraints of the stamp.

Illustrated here were Andy Pandy (1958), Ivor the Engine (1959), The Magic Roundabout (1964), Camberwick Green (1966), Mr Benn (1971), The Wombles (1973), Bagpuss (1974), Paddington Bear (1975), Postman Pat (1981), Bob the Builder (1998), Peppa Pig (2004) and Shaun the Sheep (2007).

Paddington, the creation of former BBC cameraman Michael Bond, had appeared on two stamps before, in 1994 and 2006, but in each case with book illustrations. Postman Pat was once employed in Royal Mail promotional activities.

Report by Jeff Dugdale

Read the full article in Stamp Magazine August 2017

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