Bagpuss star Emily now and wild theory that left fans fearing she'd died (2024)

As classic children's TV show Bagpuss turns 50, we take a look at what child star Emily Firmin is up to nowadays, from her creative career to her passion for the environment

Bagpuss star Emily now and wild theory that left fans fearing she'd died (1)

Today marks the 50th birthday of Bagpuss, but what came next for the human stars of the beloved show?

Many viewers will have fond memories of cosying up to watch the adventures of 'The Most Important, The Most Beautiful, The Most Magical, Saggy Old Cloth Cat in the Whole, Wide World'. Of course, the show simply wouldn't have been the same without Bagpuss' young owner Emily, who is featured in the nostalgic, sepia-tinted photographs at the beginning of each sweet episode.

As fans will no doubt recall, Emily is a Victorian child who owns a shop for 'found things', placing items in the window so that owners might locate them. Whenever Emily departs, after reciting the same verse many can recite from heart, Bagpuss and his fellow toy companions wake up, sharing stories about the mysterious items in question, and mending them.

The real Emily, full name Emily Firmin, still holds a firm place in her heart for 'Old Fat Furry Catpuss', but lives a very different life nowadays.

Fond memories and sweets payment

Former actress Emily, now 57, was just seven years old when the now iconic pics were taken, and received a bag of sweets as payment. The sixth daughter of artist and puppet maker Peter Firmin, one of the co-creators of Bagpuss, Emily filmed her memorable scenes at her parents' home in Kent.

Reminiscing during a recent interview with the Radio Times, Emily revealed: "My parents' house was pretty much a farm film studio, so my dad worked in an old cow shed and Oliver's [animator, puppeteer, and writer Oliver Postgate] studio was a pig sty, originally. Next door to him was my stable, where I kept my horse. People ask, 'What was it like?' Well, that was what it was like. I didn't realise people lived in other ways! I do remember being taken out with my mum to go and choose some very ugly Victorian shoes, which are no more, but the dress that my mum made is in The Beaney museum in Canterbury."

Intriguingly, Whitstable-based Emily has previously shared that many are surprised to see that she's still alive - having believed the photographs to have been taken in the 19th century, not the '70s.

Creative career

Taking after her creative father, who passed away in 2018 aged 89, Emily went on to pursue a career as an artist in adulthood, training at the art schools of Canterbury and Central St Martins. Since 1990, she has run Totalpap with partner and fellow artist Justin Mitchell, creating and selling works of art with a focus on 3D papier mache pictures, printed lino cut pictures, automata, and ceramics.

Emily, whose bookbinder mother Joan Firmin also taught paper crafts, told the Radio Times: "We're all pretty arty in my family. My dad had a printing press – we've got two and my sister's got one. Dad's was an 1861 Albion Press, ours is from 1865 and enormous so we can do really huge prints, which we do regularly. We have exhibitions of our work and we permanently exhibit some of it in the local restaurants in Canterbury."

Environmental endeavours

Having also inherited her parents' love of the natural world, outdoorsy Emily last year protested against proposed plans to build 1,300 homes on a plot of farmland, called Brooklands Farm, on the outskirts of Whitstable. Speaking with Kent Online in January 2023, Emily said: "We are shocked - this is beautiful, natural wilderness. It's not as simple as re-homing the animals that are there; a lot of species don't survive that kind of change."

She continued: "My father ran a country footpath group and, even up until his death, spoke with excitement when discussing nature. My parents created a wildlife meadow-slash-woodland and as a family we encouraged wildlife to appear on an old, flooded piece of unworkable farmland. I do keep an eye on what wildlife is around, and the area in Brooklands Farm is thriving."

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Bagpuss star Emily now and wild theory that left fans fearing she'd died (2024)


What happened to Emily from Bagpuss? ›

Emily, who now lives in nearby Whitstable with her musician partner Justin, told how she enjoyed an idyllic life growing up on the farm where her father and Oliver Postgate created Bagpuss along with the Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog.

Is Bagpuss a boy or girl? ›

The charming children's stop motion animation was made by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, starring the "saggy old cloth cat" Bagpuss. He lived in a strange shop - owned by a little girl called Emily - which didn't actually sell anything, but was a home for lost property.

Who was the little girl in Bagpuss? ›

Emily, daughter of Peter Firmin, the co-creator of Bagpuss, shared heartwarming stories about the show's production, her role in it, and the creative atmosphere her family fostered.

What are the words at the beginning of Bagpuss? ›

Narrator : [quoting Emily's magic words] / Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss, / Old fat furry cat-puss, / Wake up, and look at this thing that I bring, / Wake up, be bright, be golden and light, / Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing. Professor Yaffle : Fiddlesticks and flapdoodle!

Where is Bagpuss now? ›

Gabriel and Madeleine - voiced by John Faulkner and Sandra Kerr - provided songs and stories, although the mice often sang too. Today, Bagpuss is on show at The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge in Canterbury. "Each episode had a different storyline and covered so much and [they were] slightly educational as well.

Did Princess Diana watch Bagpuss? ›

In the 50 years since his first televised yawn, Bagpuss has never dropped out of the polls of all-time greatest children's programmes. The drowsy Mog was given his own postage stamp in 2014, and even made the jump to Netflix, being watched by a listless Princess Diana in series four of The Crown.

Why was Bagpuss cancelled? ›

Daniel Postgate, the son of Oliver Postgate, who died aged 83 in December 2008, said he thinks Bagpuss was axed because the BBC thought it was “sort of, out of date”. He claimed the creators were “quite keen to carry on” for another series but were met with opposition by television executives.

Who loved Bagpuss? ›

Even Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep, was just an old, saggy cloth cat. Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams, But Emily loved him.

What type of cat is Bagpuss? ›

Peter Firmin intended Bagpuss to be a striped marmalade (orange) cat but the company who wove the striped furry cloth had a manufacturing fault and used pink thread instead of orange. This is the origin of Bagpuss the pink striped cat.

Is Bagpuss a puppet? ›

The Bagpuss Show

Twelve 15 minute programmes of animated puppets based around a legendary fluffly cat called Bagpuss and created for the BBC by the masters of animated puppetry at the time; Oliver Postgate and Peter Fermin. The series ran and ran, was hugely popular and was repeated for over a decade.

What color is Bagpuss? ›

Bagpuss was meant to be a marmalade-coloured cat. It all went horribly wrong in a fabric dyeing shop in Folkestone. He came out bright pink and the rest is history.

Who was the doll in Bagpuss? ›

Sandra Kerr: Madeleine the Rag Doll, Mice.

Why is Bagpuss pink? ›

Bagpuss was supposed to be a marmalade-coloured cat but the fabric company supplying the fur got muddled up and dyed it bright pink instead. But people love his face, his character – and his voice, which was Oliver's.

Was Bagpuss in black and white? ›

The series of 32 hand-drawn animated episodes was first shown in black and white in 1959 and revived in colour for a further 40 episodes in 1976.

What animal is Bagpuss? ›

Bagpuss is a saggy old cloth cat, and although the programme is named after him, he doesn't have a prominent role. However, he does have magical powers and his thoughts are shown in a bubble above his head. Throughout the 13 programmes, the characters are seen fixing or mending something.

Who was Emily in Bagpuss? ›

Format. The scene is set at the turn of the 20th century, with Emily Firmin (Peter Firmin's daughter) playing the part of the Victorian child Emily. The first antique village vignette is a cropped image of Horrabridge taken in 1898, though nothing is known of the other photo of the children with the pram.

Where is the original Bagpuss? ›

Along with the original Bagpuss, Peter Firmin generously loaned many of the original film props for long-term display at The Beaney including Noggin the Nog and the Clangers. Find them all on display in The Smallfilms Gallery, 1st Floor, The Beaney.


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