I recently wrote about some of my favourite childhood programmes.  Debate raged (well, I had three emails) about programmes I had missed off the list and so today, I am here to address this serious issue.

Today, in a Top Trumps stylee, I’m going to see who would kick who’s arse … let the battle commence! 


Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old Fat Furry Catpuss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing

Bagpuss.  He never really did a lot, pretty much slept all day but we loved that lazy sod nonetheless.  Resident of Bagpuss & Co, a shop that didn’t actually sell anything, but was instead a lost and found shop, he and his friends came to life when Emily closed the shop.

What?   It could happen!!


Bagpuss:  What makes Bagpuss so cool?  For one, he’s a magic cat.  Don’t know about you, but I don’t know that many magic cats.  Secondly, instead of just talking normally (as cats do), his thoughts appear visible in bubbles above his head.  Brilliant!  Apart from that, he doesn’t really do much, except lie on his rug and just be a bit loose at the seams.

Professor Yaffle:  Like Doc in The Red Hand Gang, he was considered the ‘Brains’ of the outfit.  He is a real Professor after all.  This annoys the mice somewhat (mice can be a little on the stupid side – but they are good at singing,) so they like to play tricks on him, which is always funny for the rest of us.  Known to like the occasional balletic dance (see the ‘Marvellous Mechanical Prima Ballerina‘ episode,) Professor Yaffle is a wise old owl (at least I think he’s an owl,) who just happens to be a wooden book end too.  Two for the price of one.

Madeleine:  Basically, a rag doll.  She sits in a wicker chair all day long, never moves but is happy to tell stories and sing songs.  That makes her alright by me.

Gabriel:  A frog.  Who played the banjo.  He lives on top of the round tin on the shelf.  That’s it.

The Mice:  Ah, the mice.  Whenever I mention the mice to anyone (an everyday occurrence naturally,) we all sing, “We will fix it, we will stitch it!”  We then realise we don’t know the rest of the words and just repeat that first bit.

Emily:  Sole Propietor of Bagpuss & Co..  Not bad going for a ten year old.  Although, I question the premise of having a shop that doesn’t actually sell anything.  Kids eh!


Special Skills: Sleeping all day.  Yawning.


Mode of Transport: Ballet shoes as boats. 4
Crime Fighting Power: Crime free zone. 0
Merchandising Opportunities: Still going strong.


Theme Tune: As far as banjo tunes go – the best. 9
Cool Factor: Acceptable for under 7’s & over 40’s. 7



The Red Hand Gang was America’s version of The Famous Five – but way cooler.  These crime-fighting Tweens (and their dog – there’s always a dog, right?), would leave red handprints on fences to mark where they’d been.  Beats cocking a leg I suppose.

The kids were all from different backgrounds and, gasp, even included a real girl!  Their adventures included the usual: catching a gang of kidnappers, preventing a jewel heist, foiling a museum robbery.  An unanimated Scooby-Doo if you will.

Like with many programmes of that era, the stars of the show all went on to either have their own shows or die young.  The RHG were no exception:


Frankie:  Matthew Laborteax went on to star in Little House on the Prairie (oh, we’ll get on to that programme another time!).  The gang’s leader, he rode a Chopper.

J.R: J.R Miller – the producers of the show were too lazy to even bother changing his name.  He was the athlete.

Doc:  James Bond III (parents can be cruel.)  The brains of the crew, he went on to star (and I use the term loosely), in Spike Lee’s School Daze in the mid-80’s.

Joanne:  Jolie Newman – the Tomboy.  She tragically died in 2002 aged 36.

Lil’ Bill:   John Brogna – Frankie’s younger brother.  No news on what Brogna went on to do.  This doesn’t bode well.

Boomer:  Ironically, the only member of the cast to go on and have his own series – the originally titled, Here’s Boomer.  Boomer is a dog so let’s face facts, the chances of him still being alive – cryogenics aside?  Slim to none.

Only twelve episodes were made and then the Executives at NBC cancelled!  Unbefrickinlievable.  But that theme tune will stay with me forever … “La, la, la, la la la … la la la la la la la.”  Remember it now?  Thought so.  I miss The Red Hand Gang – they don’t make ‘em like they used to!

Special Skills: Catching criminals/riding bikes/graffiti. 10
Mode of Transport: Choppers & skateboards. 10
Crime Fighting Power: Able to prevent a jewel heist!  Incredible. 10
Merchandising Opportunities: Unfortunately, not a lot. 0
Theme Tune: Annoyingly catchy. 9
Cool Factor: We all wanted to be in their gang. 9



Who came out on top?  Considering Bagpuss is still going strong and appearing at the Soho Theatre this Christmas (and The RHG died a death in 1977,) I have to give it to that tired, old fat cat.  The Red Hand Gang reminds me of an era where we would spend all day outside, riding bikes, catching criminals, painting our hands red (maybe only one of those is true …) but Bagpuss is an institution.

Not bad for a saggy old cloth cat.

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Published by Kate Sutton

Writer, Mother, Dater.