Pugwash Colour TV Series

Captain Pugwash

Animated colour film series for BBC TV, 1973-75

Pugwash rowboat and ship

‘I have certainly never considered myself as part of the mainstream of cartoon animation. I have few connections in that world and have never taken part in their functions and congresses. I have always been concerned simply with telling my stories on the TV screen by any means open to me. I wouldn’t claim in any way to have invented ‘cut-out’ animation, though I have copied nobody in my methods, but I have taken it further than anyone else as a film technique.The effects I can achieve are simple and limited. But an awful lot of people in Britain and elsewhere know about Captain Pugwash as a result!’ John Ryan in 1987

Pugwash with dodos

For the 30 five-minute episodes of 1973-75, Ryan used the production method perfected with Mary, Mungo and Midge and Sir Prancelot. With his wife Priscilla they dextrously manipulated the characters’ movements for camera. See the helpful Toonhound for more information.

Between animations, Ryan was busy writing and illustrating more Pugwash books, drawing cartoons, giving talks in schools and libraries, and assisting with a stage production of Captain Pugwash at Ipswich Theatre.

In 1987 John Ryan moved from London to Rye in Sussex. He donated 174 original artworks from Captain Pugwash and from other fims for TV to the British Film Institute where they reside in their National Archive at Berkhamsted. Examples are shown here: BFI Pugwash in Pyjamas and BFI Ancient Mariner

Pugwash group


Shown here: a selection of original card and gouache-painted animation stills from 1973-75:
Left: Sea monster.
Opposite top left: Pirate Barnabus rowing Tom the Cabin-boy, the Mate, Willy and Pugwash.
Top right: The Black Pig in harbour.
Centre: The Island of the Dodos.
Below right: Composite of cut-out animation figures – Cut-throat Jake, Pugwash, Pirates Willy and Barnabus, and Tom the Cabin-boy

On display in the exhibition: 5 original artworks (including 4 shown opposite).