|'Vote for Froglet'
by Oliver Postgate
The narrator tries to explain Earth’s politics to the Clangers, using the Soup Dragon and a Froglet as examples of political candidates. With the Soup Dragon proposing free soup for everyone except Froglets, the Froglet understandably takes an opposing stance. The Clangers then vote for their favoured candidate, and the Soup Dragon wins the majority. However, the Soup Dragon immediately breaks her policy by offering free soup to the Froglet. When the narrator objects, explaining that politics isn’t meant to be nice, the Clangers decide to ignore him, and they head back inside their moon, where it’s much nicer.
A while ago, Oliver Postgate talked to me about this special episode:
Clive Banks: There’s one episode called ‘Vote For Froglet’, which I’ve never seen.
Oliver Postgate: And you won’t! It doesn’t exist [any more]. I was so angry in 1973, the Winter of Discontent, when the Miners Union and the government were locked in mortal combat and the economy of the country was going into the ground, that I honestly thought, having been in Germany at the end of the War and seen what happened when an economy collapsed completely, I really got frightened, I thought the process of government was completely buggered by inter-party squabbling. So I went to the BBC and said, “Can I do a little Clangers film about the election?” It’s basically about the narrator, that’s me, being the interlocutor as well, telling the Clangers that they’ve got to vote, either for the Froglet or for the Soup Dragon. And they refused point blank to have anything to do with it. It was a sort of tiny morality play really. It only lasted three to four minutes and I made it complete in three days.
Clive: So who won the election?
Oliver: Nobody did! They all went back down to their holes and said “Sod off! The whole thing is a waste of everybody’s time!” I was trying to sell them the idea of politics, and they were determined not to have anything to do with it.
Clive: It’s very interesting that you were trying to break the ‘Fourth Wall’ on that one.
Oliver: Yes. I wasn’t sure if it would work but it did. I was in conversation with the Clangers and they were answering me back. But it was only done just the once for that purpose, and it wasn’t shown during Children’s television time. It was shown three or four times and got a good laugh, but it had no effect on the Election. I don’t know whether it’s completely lost, we did find the rusty tin once, but nobody has asked for it to be resuscitated.
Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin
Scenery and Puppets:
Composed by Vernon Elliott
Filming and Editing:
10th October 1974 @ 5:35pm
*This seven-minute episode was created as a special to accompany the 1974 election in Britain - the second that year - and was broadcast to the general public on election night, the 10th October 1974; it has no title sequence or credits
*Oliver Postgate provides the voice of the narrator. The Clangers voices were played on swannee whistles by Oliver and Stephen Sylvester
*At the time of my interview with Oliver, 'Vote for froglet' was thought to have been lost forever; however, a copy has since been found, and you can see it here at the BFI website