Happy Birthday dear Bagpuss, old fat furry catpuss!

Bagpuss sat on his cushion

In 1974, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton performing Waterloo, the UK saw two general elections and introduced the three-day working week to tackle the energy crisis, the FIFA World Cup was recorded in colour for the first time and David Bowie released his number one album Diamond Dogs.

That same year, a British television star was born as Bagpuss first aired on BBC One on Monday 12 February, soon to become the nation’s favourite saggy old cloth-cat.

And to mark his 50th birthday, the Canterbury Museums and Galleries team is gearing up for some serious half-century celebrations.

The Beaney is kicking things off with a birthday bash for Bagpuss with his friends and family on Saturday 10 February.

If you want to join the party, a limited number of invitations are available. Find out how to enter the draw to win an invitation on The Beaney’s website.

For those who don’t attend the party, there will be another chance to meet Bagpuss as he has kindly agreed to appear for photos with visitors between 1pm and 4pm at The Beaney.

This event marks the beginning of the celebrations which will go on until Easter.

Families will also have the opportunity to search the museum for characters from the television series through the new Mischief at the Museum: 50 Years of Bagpuss trail which includes activities to do on site and a special creative writing competition for 7 to 11 year olds.

An accessible version of the trail for visitors with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will also be available.

The trail is £5 and can be purchased from The Beaney’s information desks from Saturday 10 February until Sunday 14 April 2024 (closed Mondays except for 12 February).

Emily Firmin, who starred in the series as Bagpuss’ loving owner, said “My father Peter Firmin, and Oliver Postgate, would be amazed and proud of the continued love for the blue-eyed, pink-striped puss-cat and his fellow characters.

“What an honour to be involved in such a great show!”

Cllr Charlotte Cornell, Cabinet Member for Heritage, added: “Despite turning half a century old, I think we can all agree that Bagpuss is truly a timeless British icon!

“The show has this incredible ability to inspire nostalgic joy across so many different generations which we see each time a visitor travels miles to glimpse Bagpuss at The Beaney or when they’re unexpectedly transported to a different time as they unwittingly stumble across him in the galleries.

“This shared love of Bagpuss really does feel like a unifying force, both locally and nationally, and I can’t wait to see the community come together to celebrate his milestone birthday this year.”

Bagpuss will also be visiting friends across the district over the Easter period so keep an eye out on The Beaney’s social media channels for more.

Published: 2 February 2024

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