Oliver Postgate

Prolific English Animator Oliver Postgate was born in Hendon, Middlesex, England, on 12 April 1925. He was the younger son of journalist and writer Raymond Postgate and Daisy Lansbury, making him the cousin of actress Angela Lansbury and grandson of Labour politician, and sometime leader, George Lansbury. His other grandfather was the Latin classicist John Percival Postgate. His brother was the microbiologist and writer John Postgate FRS. Postgate was educated at the private Woodstock School on Golders Green Road in Finchley in north-west London and Woodhouse Secondary School, formerly known from 1923 onwards as Woodhouse Grammar School, also in Finchley (and now renamed Woodhouse College), followed by Dartington Hall School, a progressive private boarding school in Devon.

In 1942 Postgate joined the Home Guard while studying at Kingston College of Art, but when he became liable for military service during the Second World War the following year, he declared himself a conscientious objector, as his father had done during the First World War. He was initially refused recognition; he accepted a medical examination as a first step to call up, and then reported for duty with the Army in Windsor, but refused to put on the uniform. He was court-martialled and sentenced to three months in Feltham Prison. This qualified him to return to the Appellate Tribunal, where he was granted exemption conditional upon working on the land or in social service, the unserved portion of his sentence being remitted. He worked on farms until the end of the war, when he went to occupied Germany, working for the Red Cross in social relief work.

On return to the UK, from 1948 he attended drama school, but drifted through a number of different jobs, never really finding his niche. In 1957 he was appointed a stage manager with Associated-Rediffusion, which then held the ITV franchise for London. Attached to the children’s programming section, he thought he could improve upon the low budget black and white television productions. Postgate wrote Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse born to be king. Using an Irish-produced magnetic system – on which animated characters were attached to a painted background, and then photographed through a 45-degree mirror – he persuaded Peter Firmin, who was then teaching at the Central School of Art, to create the background scenes.

After the success of Alexander the Mouse, Postgate agreed a deal to make the next series on film, for a budget of £175 per programme. Making a stop motion animation table in his bedroom, he wrote the Chinese story The Journey of Master Ho. This was intended for deaf children, a distinct advantage in that the production required no soundtrack which reduced the production costs. He engaged an honorary Chinese painter to produce the backgrounds, but as the painter was classical Chinese-trained he produced them in three-quarters view, rather than in the conventional Egyptian full-view manner used for flat animation under a camera which made the characters look short in one leg, but the success of the production provided the foundation for Postgate with Firmin to start up his own company solely producing animated children’s programmes.

Postgate and Firmin Set up their business in a disused cowshed at Firmin’s home in Blean near Canterbury, Kent, producing children’s animation programmes.  Firmin did the artwork and built the models, while Postgate wrote the scripts, did the stop motion filming and many of the voices. This enabled Smallfilms to produce two minutes of film per day, ten times as much as a conventional animation studio, with Postgate moving the cardboard pieces himself, and working his 16mm camera frame-by-frame with a home-made clicker. As Postgate wholly voiced many of the productions, including the WereBear story tapes, his distinctive voice became familiar to generations of children.

They started in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam locomotive who wanted to sing in a choir, based on Postgate’s wartime encounter with Welshman Denzyl Ellis, who used to be the fireman on the Royal Scot. (It was remade in colour for the BBC in 1976 and 1977.) This was followed by Noggin the Nog for the BBC, which established Smallfilms as a reliable source to produce children’s entertainment, when there were only two television channels in the UK. Postgate would go to the BBC once a year, show them the completed films and they would say: “Yes, lovely, now what are you going to do next?” We would tell them, and they would say: “That sounds fine, we’ll mark it in for eighteen months from now”. Postgate had strict views on story-line development, which perhaps resultantly restricted the length of each particular series development. The Clangers adventures were surreal but logical. Postgate disliked fantasy for its own sake and felt that Once the point beyond where cause and effect mean anything at all is reached then science fiction becomes science nonsense. Everything must be strictly logical aand abide by the laws of physics

During the 1970s and ’80s Postgate was active in the anti-nuclear campaign, addressing meetings and writing several pamphlets including The Writing on the Sky. In 1986, in collaboration with the historian Naomi Linnell, Postgate painted a 50-foot-long (15 m) Illumination of the Life and Death of Thomas Becket for a book of the same name, which is now in the archive of the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury. In 1990 he painted a similar work on Christopher Columbus for a book entitled The Triumphant Failure. A Canterbury Chronicle, a triptych by Postgate commissioned in 1990 hangs in the Great Hall of Eliot College on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus

Postgate also narrated the six-part BBC Radio 4 comedy series Elastic Planet in 1995. In his later years, he blogged for the New Statesman. in 2003 Postgate narrated Alchemists of Sound, a television documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 2007, he was guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. He was also a guest on The Russell Brand Show on 19 January 2008 where he discussed the making of Bagpuss and his subsequent work in TV and Film. In 1987 the University of Kent at Canterbury awarded an honorary degree to Postgate, who stated that the degree was really intended for Bagpuss, who was subsequently displayed in academic dress. His autobiography, Seeing Things, was published in 2000.

Postgate sadly died at a nursing home in Broadstairs, near his home on the Kent coast, on 8 December 2008, aged 83. He had a huge influence and effect on British culture, and was held in great affection for the role his work had played in many people’s lives. His work was widely discussed in the UK media and many tributes were paid to him and his work across the internet. Charlie Brooker dedicated a portion of his Screenwipe show to Oliver Postgate, and the way he influenced his own childhood.

Tom Clancy

Best known for writing exciting and technically detailed espionage and military thrillers set during and after the Cold War, the American Novellist and Historian Thomas Leo “Tom” Clancy, Jr. Was born April 12, 1947. Clancy’s literary career began in 1982 when he started writing The Hunt for Red October which became immensely popular and was adapted for film starring Sean Connery. The novels Patriot Games (1987), Clear and Present Danger (1989), and The Sum of All Fears (1991), have been turned into commercially successful films with actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Chris Pine and Ben Affleck as Clancy’s most famous fictional character Jack Ryan, while his second most famous character, John Clark, has been played by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber.

All but two of Clancy’s solely written novels feature Jack Ryan or John Clark,These being The Cold War epic Red Storm Rising and The first NetForce novel which was adapted as a 1999 TV movie starring Scott Bakula and Joanna Going. The first Op-Center novel was released to coincide with a 1995 NBC television mini-series of the same name (Tom Clancy’s Op-Center published in 1995) starring Harry Hamlin. With the release of The Teeth of the Tiger (2003), Clancy introduced Jack Ryan’s son and two nephews as main characters; these characters continued in his last four novels, Dead or Alive (2010), Locked On (2011), Threat Vector (2012), and Command Authority (2013).

Clancy also wrote several nonfiction books about various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces And branded several lines of books and video games with his name that are written by other authors, following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy’s works. His other interests included sport and In 1993, Clancy joined a group of investors that included Peter Angelos and bought the Baltimore Orioles from Eli Jacobs and also reached an agreement to purchase the Minnesota Vikings however he abandoned the deal due to financial commitments elsewhere. French video game manufacturer Ubisoft has also used Clancy’s name in conjunction with video games and related products such as movies and books. So far Seventeen of his novels have been bestsellers and more than 100 million copies of his books are in print. His name was also used on movie scripts written by ghost writers, non-fiction books on military subjects and video games. He was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles and Vice Chairman of their Community Activities and Public Affairs committees. Sadly though Clancy died on October 1, 2013, of an undisclosed illness but his novels remain popular.

Yuri’s Night

Yuri’s Night takes place annually on 12 April to commemorate the occasion Of April 12 1961, when 27 year old Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, circling the Earth for 1 hour and 48 minutes in his spacecraft Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1) . To mark the occasion Cosmonautics Day was established in Russia (День Космона́втики, Den Kosmonavtiki) and some other former USSR countries, and Yuri’s Night Is also held internationally every April 12 to commemorate this milestones in space exploration. The launch of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission, is also honored, as it was launched exactly 20 years afterwards on April 12, 1981.

Gagarin’s flight was a triumph for the Soviet space program, and ushered in a new era in space exploration. Gagarin became a national hero of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc and a famous figure around the world. Major newspapers around the globe published his biography and details of his flight. Moscow and other cities in the USSR held mass parades, the scale of which was second only to WWII Victory Parades. Gagarin was escorted in a long motorcade of high-ranking officials through the streets of Moscow to the Kremlin where, in a lavish ceremony, he was awarded the highest Soviet honour, the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, by the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
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The commemoration ceremony on Cosmonautics Day usually starts in the city of Korolyov, near Gagarin’s statue. Participants then proceed under police escort to Red Square for a visit to Gagarin’s grave in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis, and continue to Cosmonauts Alley, near the Monument to the Conquerors of Space. Finally, the festivities are concluded with a visit to the Novodevichy Cemetery. In 1968, the 61st conference of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale resolved to celebrate this day as the World Aviation and Astronautics Day. On April 12, 1981, exactly 20 years after Vostok 1, a Space Shuttle (STS-1, Columbia) was launched for the first orbital flight. On April 7, 2011 United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight.

Yuri’s Night, also known as the “World’s Space party”, is held internationally every April 12 in many locations, including museums, schools and bars, to commemorate this milestones in space exploration, increase public interest in space exploration, inspire a new generation of explorers and create a global community of young people committed to shaping the future of space exploration while developing responsible leaders and innovators with a global perspective. In the past Yuri’s Night events have also been attended by space-related figures including author Ray Bradbury, space tourist Dennis Tito, X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis, *NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from the original Star Trek series) and have been held at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CAlifornia.and The launch of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission, is also honored, as it was launched 20 years to the day of Vostok 1 on April 12, 1981. In 2013, Yuri’s Night was celebrated at over 350 events in 57 countries and In 2011 the crew aboard the International Space Station also recorded a special Yuri’s Night celebratory greeting.

J. Scott Campbell

American author and illustrator comic book artist J. Scott Campbell was Born 12 April 1973. He was initially known professionally as Jeffrey Scott, but is best known as J. Scott Campbell. He rose to fame as an artist for Wildstorm Comics, though he has since done work for Marvel Comics (most notably as a cover artist on The Amazing Spider-Man), and the video game industry.

After graduating from high school in Aurora, Colorado, Campbell began doing freelance commercial art jobs. As Campbell prepared to show his samples at the 1993 San Diego Comic Con, the series WildC.A.T.S premiered by Jim Lee’s publishing studio, Wildstorm Productions (then called Homage Studios). One issue advertised a talent search for which readers could submit artwork, so Campbell put together a package that included a four-page WildC.A.T.S story and sent it in. A week and a half later, Jim Lee telephoned Campbell and asked him if he would move to San Diego to work for him. Initially working under the professional name Jeffrey Scott, Campbell’s first comics work was two pinups for the Homage Studios Swimsuit Special in 1993. His subsquent work for Wildstorm includes spot illustrations in WildC.A.T.S Sourcebook. and Stormwatch #0.

Campbell went on to co-create the teen superhero team Gen¹³, which debuted in Deathmate Black (September 1993), before going onto to star in their own five-issue miniseries in January 1994. In 1998, Campbell, together with fellow comics artists Joe Madureira and Humberto Ramos, founded the Cliffhanger imprint as part of Wildstorm Productions and launched his comic series Danger Girl, which has since spawned a Playstation video gameas well as several comic spinoffs in the forms of limited series and one-shots. In August 2005, Campbell published Wildsiderz, which he co-created with his Danger Girl writing partner Andy Hartnell. In 2006, Campbell provided a variant incentive cover for Justice League of America and In 2007, Campbell illustrated the covers to the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash six-issue limited series. Between 2001 and 2013 Campbell also worked on Marvel Comics Amazing Spider-Man series with writer Jeph Loeb.