For years all I wanted to do is learn Czech and say "ahoi" to my friends behind the iron curtain (Czechoslovakia never seemed very iron-curtainy to us because of those programmes - only like a mildly more grimy and old-fashioned Germany). Prague was like a far off wonderland where plasticine figures played pranks on neighbourhood bullies and Breughel paintings would come to life to jingling Mark Mothersbaugh-style soundtracks. People looked shoddy but were clearly happy - more open, witty and creative than us mollycoddled capitalists with our digital watches.
I shed secret tears when the beautiful Dana Vavrova died two years ago of cancer, an actress whose career began in the Czech fairy tale TV circuit and who later on became well-known in Germany.
And I was deeply saddened to read today about the death of Zdenek Miler, another marvellously creative Czech, and father of the little mole beloved by generations of German children.
I remember watching these films in 8-mil versions in school.
Rest in peace, Zdenek Miler - you made so many of us very, very happy!