So began each of the Sagas of Noggin the Nog, in which the crown of Noggin, Prince of the Nogs is sought by his wicked uncle Nogbad the Bad who devises evil plots to threaten the safety of the kingdom, and sometimes the world, in order to force Noggin to give up his crown. In each saga Nogbad pursues his plot to the very brink of success, but at the last moment his purposes are foiled by some unexpected piece of luck, cleverness or lack of attention on the part of the Nogs.
Noggin the Nog was the brainchild of Peter Firmin, who was inspired in some degree by the Norse chess-men in the Edward VII gallery of the British Museum. Oliver Postgate had seen the chess-men too, and he also felt a great affinity for the anxiety shown by the chess-men at the prospect of battle. Together they created the Land of Nog where life was peaceful, if a bit dull, except when Nogbad was up to something.
A good example of the general pattern of the stories is shown in "Noggin and the Flowers"
Plot stage 1: Noggin, Nooka and Ronf go out for a walk, and meet Nogbad, who seems to be a reformed character, as he has mended his castle and is growing a lovely garden. Since Nooka is interested in gardening, Nogbad gives her some seeds to plant back at Noggin's Castle.
Plot stage 2: Obviously, this is all a despicable plot, and the seeds once planted grow into enormous, fiercely destructive creepers, which begin to destroy the castle and all of the town. Noggin is ready to hand over his crown and throne to Nogbad, in return for removing the terrible flowers.
Plot stage 3: While all this has been going on, Ronf, a keen gardener himself, has been investigating the plants back at Nogbad's Castle. Although he is put in prison by Nogbad, he escapes, and returns in the nick of time with the information that the plants are kindly by nature and will give up if asked nicely. Noggin's Castle and city are saved, and Nogbad is forced to flee.
Working as 'Smallfilms', Peter and Oliver made five Noggin film serials between 1959 and 1965. These were followed by twelve books of the sagas, six first readers, numerous contributions to children's weeklies and annuals and, in 1992, a definitive volume published by Harper Collins. All these are out of print, as are the two BBC videos of the sagas (cat no's V4359 and V4651). An audiotape published by Harper Collins "Three Tales of the Northlands" (cat no T01678) has now also been deleted.