Posts Tagged With: the clangers

Have I Got Whos For You (Everybody’s Gone To The Moon Edition)

I’m not gonna talk about Boris; in fact, we’re not gonna talk about Boris at all. We’re gonna keep him out of it.

Let’s talk about the moon landing. But before we do that, let’s talk about a book I read thirty years ago in my first (and second, and third, and fourth) year at secondary school. It was called Arthur C. Clarke’s July 20, 2019 – a date which, at the tender age of eleven, seemed like a distant prospect. Compartmentalised into thematic chapters, taking us through smart houses, healthcare, travel and work on a single day in the then future, it explored a typically optimistic future society where things have mostly gone right, anchored by the celebration of fifty years since the moon landing. I can still quote bits of dialogue but I’m fuzzy on the detail; nonetheless people who still have the book assure me that the results were a bingo card, with some astonishingly accurate predictions and others that either haven’t happened yet or which happened years ago. It was glossy, and the photos were very nice. Sadly the Amazon prices are not, so it’ll have to stay as a memory, which is probably for the best.

Anyway, Armstrong didn’t quite make it to the fiftieth anniversary – but Aldrin did, and he’s still keeping his mouth shut about what really happened.

People got really cross when I did this. “I don’t like the idea of the Doctor being part of this conspiracy,” said one. To which the obvious reply is – well, she isn’t, she’s just landed the TARDIS in Shepperton instead of 240,000 miles up. Listen, I don’t have the monopoly on stuff like this. The X-Files got there first. Actually, I’ve been doing some thought in recent months and have decided that much of the way society is today can be blamed on The X-Files. Because it gave us a world where chemtrails were real, the moon landing was faked and governments were using vaccinations as a ploy to infect us all with viral pathogens, and the heroes were two likeable, intelligent white Americans whose job it was to convince us that this was all really happening. And the opposite of obedient sheep – “Comrade Napoleon is always right” – is abject paranoia, which really isn’t any better. So now no one trusts a thing they’re told by people who frankly know more about this than they do, and before you know it you’ve got people believing the Earth is flat.

Anyway, at least – thanks to the miracles of modern technology – we can finally find out what that Silence was really saying back in 1969.

Finally, to the far side of the moon, where an old enemy is about to run into some old friends.

“Christ. Not you lot again.”


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The CBeebies Amalgamation

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks – or, I don’t know, just not in the U.K. – then you can’t have failed to notice the return of The Clangers, Oliver Postgate’s little piece of 1960s whimsy. Postgate – who (along with longtime colleague Peter Firmin) also gave us Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and Bagpuss, among others – charted the adventures of a family of small grey / pink rodent-like creatures who live on a distant planet and who speak only in whistles, although thankfully Postgate is on hand to translate. (In true Blade Runner style, his voiceover was added only reluctantly, and he always wondered how the show would have been received without it.) The Clangers are aided in their adventures by the now iconic Soup Dragon, along with the Iron Chicken – and if you were wondering, the name ‘Clangers’ derives from the sound made by the lids that cover their underground holes when they slide them off.

The show was notorious for having some quite objectionable language (at least for a children’s programme) in one of its original scripts, as Postgate explains in Seeing Things:

“I could think of only one piece of bad language. One other episodes begins with Major Clanger trying to open the big sliding doors of the main cave-mouth. It jams and his first line is:
‘Oh sod it! The bloody thing’s stuck again!’
‘That’s it,’ said Ursula [Eason]. ‘You know quite well we can’t say things like that on children’s programmes.’
‘But…’ I said, ‘they don’t say it. They whistle it.’
‘But surely people will know?’
‘If they have nice minds they will hear him say “Oh dear me. The naughty thing is jammed again.”‘
‘Oh, all right then, I suppose so, but please keep the language moderate.'”

And, of course, when they released the ‘talking’ Clanger toy a few years ago, the phrase it emitted when its tummy was squeezed was…

Well, you can guess.]

Anyway, I was thinking about all this when a couple of Doctor Who-themed mashups came to mind. Curiously (or perhaps not) they were both from ‘Kill The Moon’:


I’ve said before that I probably watch more CBeebies than is healthy, and I definitely watch more Doctor Who than is healthy, and when that happens you start seeing the two of them together with alarming regularity. Edward is a big fan of Let’s Play, which I rather poorly described to Gareth as “Mr Benn, but with better sets” (“Mr Benn had great sets!”). The premise is that CBeebies veteran Sidney Sloane and relative newcomer Rebecca Keatley have some kind of house share thing going on: in each episode they take it in turns to put on a different costume and travel through a mystic portal into another world, in which they have an adventure as a chef or a builder or a clown, interacting with a bunch of archetypes, all of whom are played by whoever it is that has stayed in the house. It is great fun, even if some of the geekier characters played by Sloane are awfully like Whizz Kid.

Anyway, the other day Sid was on an alien planet dressed as an astronaut, and I started making connections between the alien he’d encountered and some of the creatures from ‘The Web Planet’, even though they look nothing alike:

(I can more or less guarantee that a couple of hours after I post this, Gareth will email me and say “She looks like a ___”.)

Sid is accompanied on his travels by a robot dog, which (despite some variation at the base) looked awfully familiar. I don’t mind, of course. There are only so many ways you can do a robot dog – literally, as it turns out:

No, you really didn’t see this. Keep scrolling.

Meanwhile, in the Best Cafe In The World (TM), Big Cook Ben and Little Cook Small find themselves in a scene from an unwritten Big Finish ‘Planet of Giants’ spinoff.


And completely unrelated to Who, the Twirlywoo submarine is invaded by Tribbles.


I think I need coffee.

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