The Cloggies, an Everyday Saga in the Life of Clog Dancing Folk, is a cartoon strip created by Bill Tidy. It ran in the satirical magazine Private Eye from 1967 to 1981, and later in The Listener from 1985 to 1986.
The strip served as a satire of northern English male culture and focused on a team of men who took part in what the group called Lancashire clog-dancing. This version of clog-dancing involved two teams dancing towards each other in formation, followed by each attempting to cripple their opponents with gracefully executed knee and foot moves.
The strip has been credited with popularizing the word "cloggies", a slang term for clog dancers.
The Cloggies began as a single standalone cartoon published in the British satirical magazine Private Eye during 1967, which depicted a group in the midst of a morris dance as an army jeep tries to warn that they should remain still, as they were in a minefield. The cartoon was noticed by Private Eye co-founder Richard Ingrams, who believed that it could be expanded into a regular series. Tidy agreed and the strip ran in the magazine until 1981. It was later picked up by the weekly magazine The Listener, where it was published from 1985 to 1986.
The strip was published in two formats, one a single panel cartoon and the other made of multiple panels.
Three retrospective collections of the cartoons were published between 1969 and 1977, with titles The Cloggies (1969), The Cloggies Dance Again (1973) and The Cloggies Are Back (1977).
The strip was sub-titled an Everyday Saga in the Life of Clog Dancing Folk, which Tidy intended as a parody of the long-running BBC radio series, The Archers, which was subtitled an Everyday Story of Country Folk. The strip also lampooned contemporary British sports culture and introduced an entire sub-culture of fictitious dance leagues, a governing body for the sport of clog dancing, and a deeply arcane and complex scoring system.
Similarities with Brass
In 1983 Granada Television began televising Brass, a comedy drama that satirized working-class period dramas of the 1970s. Tidy was critical of the series, noting that it bore several similarities to his work, specifically The Cloggies. In an interview with the Liverpool Echo Tidy mentioned that he was not the first to see the similarities, as he had learned about them after reading a magazine article asking if he was going to pursue legal action.
The strip focused on a team of clogdancers made up of seven men, who were described as undisputed champions of their ‘sport’, usually inflicting severe clog dance-related injuries on their opponents before repairing to the nearest pub. The characters were portrayed as heavy and enthusiastic drinkers.
The team consisted of:
- Stan Postlethwaite (captain), later ennobled as Lord Stan of Blagdon
- Albert Postlethwaite (second boot, with his false teeth)
- Neville (third boot; trilby and glasses) (or Wilfrid, trilby, glasses and moustache)
- Arnold (fourth boot)
- Ted (fifth boot, with the grey socks)
- Wally (sixth boot, later deceased, replaced by Norman).
- Norman (bearded).
Other local residents included Reginald ('Reg') Thrumper, the "Blagdon Amateur Rapist" and the unnamed 'Blagdon Groper and Nuisance'.
A stage musical based on the series, entitled The Cloggies, ran at the Theatr Clwyd in Mold, Wales. The production was given a limited run from 24 October until 12 November 1983. The Cloggies experienced several issues with special effects and sound during its opening performance, prompting complaints from the audience. The play was later described as a failure by the Evening Post in 1995.
Critical reception at the time was negative, with journalists criticizing the musical for its humor. A journalist for The Chester Chronicle panned the portrayals of the titular Cloggies while citing Stephen Nallon's impression of Margaret Thatcher as a highlight. The Liverpool Echo's Walter Huntley also reviewed the musical, criticizing it for its poor sound quality and humor.
During the 1990s Tidy announced that there was interest in an animated series based on The Cloggies and that he had written a few scripts for an unnamed Yorkshire television station. No series was produced.
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