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Blistering Barnacles! Captain Pugwash sails into Southport


Kipper me capstans! Hapless pirate Captain Pugwash has sailed into Southport as part of a busy new season of exhibitions at The Atkinson.

The TV cartoon favourite, who entertained youngsters from the 1950s to the 1970s, was created by Scottish-born cartoonist and animator John Ryan.

But before he hit the big time on the small screen, Captain Horatio Pugwash was first introduced to the world in 1950 alongside Dan Dare in the earliest editions of iconic British children’s comic the Eagle – the brainchild of a Southport vicar and which was written and designed in a tiny studio in Churchtown.

Pugwash, his crew on the Black Pig and their arch-enemy Cut-Throat Jake, went on to feature as a comic strip in the Radio Times before Ryan was invited to turn them into TV animation which he did using an ingenious system of cut-out characters and set which were moved in real time by hidden cardboard levers.

The blustering Captain enjoyed his TV heyday in colour in the 1970s.

Above: John Ryan in his studio with a Captain Pugwash animation, 1970s. Top: Captain Pugwash and his crew on the Black Pig.

Copyright the Estate of John Ryan.


Meanwhile Ryan was also responsible for the creation of the Eagle’s super sleuth, the monacle-wearing Harris Tweed, Special Agent, and Lettice Leefe – the greenest girl in school, for Eagle’s sister comic Girl. Sir Boldasbrass, who featured in Eagle’s junior companion Swift, was another invention.

Ryan, who died in 2009, also created Mary, Mungo and Midge for television, which was co-narrated by his daughter Isabel – who has curated this new exhibition, and The Adventures of Sir Prancelot. Examples of all his favourite characters can be found in the Southport show.

Isabel Ryan says: “I’m delighted that Captain Pugwash has been invited to sail back into Southport - he loves showing off, so he’s brought some of his friends along to the Atkinson.”

Captain Pugwash & Friends: The TV and book creations of John Ryan runs at The Atkinson until December 28.