One day last summer, during a six-month hiatus from Radiohead, Thom Yorke decided to lavish treats on his son Noah. He bought the two year old some children’s DVDs, among them Bagpuss, the 70s TV series featuring a ragged pink and white cat who lives in a shop with friends Prof Yaffle, a doll called Madeline, and a troupe of mice.
When presented with this archive classic, Noah got up and walked out of the room, but Thom found himself sitting through all 13 instalments. Episode 2 — The Owls of Athens — caught his eye and in particular, a song called the Bony King of Nowhere.
‘It’s about this pipe-cleaner king with a bony arse who moans about the hardness and coldness of his throne,’ says Yorke. ‘So the mice scurry about trying to make him a comfy one.’
Naturally, you bite your lip as Thom tells you the story. But don’t worry. He knows. In fact, the resonance with his own life was so strong he decided this would be the title of the new Radiohead album. What’s more, he got on the phone to Bagpuss creator Oliver Postgate and asked if he’d make the video to the new single ‘There There.’
Postgate is 78, retired, and therefore declined. In the end, the Bony King of Nowhere was deemed too ‘prog’ by the rest of the band and the more declamatory Hail to the Thief was preferred. Even so, the pre-eminent rock seer of his generation is undeterred.
I’m telling you, there’s a lot in there. You could do a lot worse than get yourself the DVD of Bagpuss.’