Noggin the Nog

Noggin the Nog

Noggin the Nog is a popular British children's character appearing in his own TV series (of the same name) and series of illustrated books, the brainchild of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. The TV series is considered a 'cult classic' from the golden age of British children's television. Noggin himself is a simple, kind and unassuming King of the Northmen in a roughly Viking-age setting, with various fantastic elements such as dragons, flying machines and talking birds.

Some of the original artwork for the series is on display at the Rupert Bear Museum.[1]


Plot and Characters

The stories were based around the central character of Noggin, the simple good-natured son of Knut, King of the Nogs, and his queen Grunhilda. When King Knut dies, Noggin must find a queen to rule beside him or else forfeit the crown to his uncle Nogbad the Bad. After many adventures, Noggin meets and marries Nooka of the Nooks (an Eskimo princess) and becomes the new king. Noggin and Nooka then have a son Knut who comes to the fore in later storylines. Other regular characters include:

  • Thor Nogson - Noggin's friend and Captain of the Royal Guard. (Nogson portrays himself as "fierce", but is actually anything but.)
  • Olaf the Lofty - An eccentric but well-meaning inventor. Olaf's inventions rarely work out exactly as he intends them to.
  • Graculus - A big green bird who arrives as Nooka's messenger in the first episode. Later by chance they return to the place of his birth and meet his family, who unlike him are not capable of human speech.

Although the individual stories vary, any trouble encountered by the heroes is usually caused by Nogbad the Bad who never gives up trying to claim Noggin's throne for himself.

Television series

The original television series was first broadcast on 11 September 1959 shown by the BBC in the United Kingdom from 1959 to 1965.[2] Thirty-six programmes were made, originally in black and white and running for ten minutes, by a company called Smallfilms. When the programme made a comeback in 1979, it ran for just six episodes. The series was also colourised and one of the stories is a remake of the earlier version of Noggin The Nog: Noggin and the Ice Dragon. This second series of Noggin the Nog ran until the summer of 1980. The level of stop-motion animation was basic, but this did not detract from the popularity of the series.

Strictly speaking, the title is "The Sagas of Noggin the Nog", since the stories were based on the principle of a Norse saga, and episodes began with the words, "Listen to me and I will tell you the story of Noggin the Nog, as it was told in the days of old..." or "In the lands of the North, where the Black Rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale... and those tales they tell are the stories of a kind and wise king and his people; they are the Sagas of Noggin the Nog. Welcome to Northlands, a tribute to Noggin, King of the Nogs and the People of the Northlands." These opening lines, combined with Vernon Elliott's haunting bassoon score, conveyed a slightly "creepy" atmosphere, which children found a little frightening and consequently even more exciting.

Visually, it was primarily inspired by the Lewis chessmen (of Norse origin),[3] in fact one story is about Noggin playing chess with Nogbad the Bad.

A new series was rumoured in the late 1990s but nothing came of it.[4]

The complete series was released on DVD in 2005, in a package which also included DVD versions of the short story books.

The books

The 1992 book: The Sagas of Noggin the Nog

Various Noggin short stories were also published, and a visitor in one of them, Noggin and the Moon Mouse, later provided the basis for the characters in the popular Clangers TV series.

Several books have been released, including a fully illustrated 96 page colour book published in 1992 by Collins titled The Sagas of Noggin the Nog. This volume includes four tales: i) King of the Nogs ii) The Ice Dragon iii) The Flying Machine iv) The Omruds.

The book series published in the 1960s and 70s consisted of 12 illustrated hardback books:

  1. King of the Nogs (1968)
  2. The Ice Dragon (1968)
  3. The Flying Machine (1968)
  4. The Omruds (1968)
  5. The Island (1969)
  6. The Firecake (1969)
  7. The Pie (1971)
  8. The Flowers (1971)
  9. The Game (1972)
  10. The Monster (1972)
  11. The Blackwash (1975)
  12. The Icebergs (1975)

Recognition with a Noggin stamp

The 1994 Stamp: Noggin and Ice Dragon (SG1804)

Noggin has received an accolade achieved by very few Norse characters – he appeared with the Ice Dragon reading him a note from Nogbad, on a British 'greetings' postage stamp (SG1804) in January 1994. The art work for the stamp was drawn by Peter Firmin who also produced a series of illustrations for the advertising campaign to publicize the new stamps.[5] The stamp was one of a set of ten on the theme of 'messages', featuring characters from British children's literature. All the characters were pictured holding a letter, note or message. Noggin's note reads: "I, Nogbad the Bad do hereby promise to be Good."[6]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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