Captain Pugwash, 1957
Cult kids show perhaps as famous for inferences as for it’s popularity. Captain Horatio Pugwash made his debut in a comic-strip format in the first issue of The Eagle in 1950, then appeared regularly as a strip in the then BBC listings magazine, Radio Times.
In 1957 the BBC commissioned a series of short cartoon films produced by Gordon Murray. There were a total of 86 five-minute-long episodes produced for the BBC, early editions were shot in black-and-white film, these were broadcast between 1957 and 1966.
Captain Pugwash popped up again in 1974, this time in colour. Thirty of these shorts were produced between 1974 and 1975, using a technique known as real-time animation in which cardboard cutouts of the characters are laid onto painted backgrounds and moved with levers. The characters’ voices were provided by Peter Hawkins.
The original series ended in 1975, but was resurected in 1997, broadcast in 1998, as The Adventures Of Captain Pugwash. This later series added some new characters and was made as a traditional animated series. The series ended after the 26 episodes of the 1997 series.
Of course many people will be familiar with the double entendre urban myths surrounding the show, originated by the now defunct UK newspaper the Sunday Correspondent. It alluded to sexually suggestive names – such as Master Bates, Seaman Staines, and Roger (meaning “have sex with”) the Cabin Boy – to Captain Pugwash’s characters, and indicating that the captain’s name was a slang Australian term for oral sex.
John Ryan successfully sued both the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian newspapers in 1991 for printing this legend as fact, when in fact it was just an urban myth, the origin of which is likely to have started in student rag mags from the 1970s.
Despite everything it remains a hugely enjoyable piece of TV nostalgia.
Captain Horatio Pugwash – sails the high seas in his ship called the Black Pig, ably assisted by cabin boy Tom, pirates Willy and Barnabas, and Master Mate. His mortal enemy is Cut-Throat Jake, captain of the Flying Dustman.
As far as we can research:
Peter Hawkins – Captain Horatio Pugwash
Noel Coleman – Narrator
Both for original series
BBC – 1957 – 1966 (black and white, performed and broadcast live), 87 episodes
BBC – 16th September, 1974 – 11th July, 1975 (colour), 30 episodes
ITV – 1998, 26 episodes
Created By: John Ryan