Original Charlie Chalk sketch

Merry Christmas to you all and thanks to everyone for such a great response to the blog this year, its been very humbling. It’s so great to see that there are so many fans of Ivor Wood around and how much he means to a lot of you, whether thats through his shows or his artistry.

As a big thank you to everyone I’d like to share with you an original sketch of the one and only Charlie Chalk, drawn in pencil by Ivor. Whilst at his home, along with his widow Josiane and fellow researcher Joseph Wallace, we came across many pieces of artwork that Ivor had drawn, painted and developed. This piece below had to be my favourite though.

Charlie Chalk | Pencil sketch on paper by Ivor Wood

Charlie Chalk | Pencil sketch on paper by Ivor Wood

Josiane reckons that this along with many other character drawings from Charlie Chalk were created to show a book publisher in the hope of making Charlie Chalk into story books. However, more in the other drawings of the series, the publisher didn’t like Ivor’s style. It may seem strange bearing in mind Ivor was so pivotal in the success of the illustrations for Paddington, The Herbs and The Wombles but obviously the 1990s had other ideas.

Once more it’s been such a pleasure in sharing all this amazing artwork, stories and blasts from the pasts with you all and there will be many more to come. As if you need teasing next year we have interviews with animators George Laban (Postman Pat), Rory Fellowes (Hattytown Tales), Barry Macey and more from Barry Leith. Along with this there is tons more archived material to go through including a very special announcement on The Herbs. So much to look forward to.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who I’ve spoken to this year including Joseph Wallace, Josiane Wood, Barry Leith, Barry Macey, Rory Fellowes, George Laban, Karen Jankel, Nicholas Durbridge, Keith Chatlfield, Derek Mogford, Clive Juster and anyone I’ve missed. It’s been a real treat to learn more and more about Ivor’s work. Thanks everyone for your time and hopefully we can all catch up in the New Year.

Until 2016…over and out.

In the beginning – Woodland Animation Studios

In 1975 after a successful career at FilmFair Ivor Wood set about turning Woodland Animations, his then partnership, into his own studios. Along with his wife Josiane they took to their own and opened a studio that would exclusively make children’s programmes for the BBC.

Woodland Animations logo designed by Ivor Wood

Woodland Animations logo designed by Ivor Wood

After the familiarity of FilmFair’s Jacob Wells studio being made up of 3 mews houses Ivor was on the look out for a similar set up, as Josiane goes onto explain.

“We’d been looking for a mews house because Ivor knew mews houses had garages with very high ceilings. He always had in mind to set up his own studio and we found 58 Queens Gate Mews in South Kensington, London which was absolutely ideal. The garage was divided into two garages, so we had the partition removed.” Whilst at the studios Ivor and the small team at Woodland produced the memorable and much loved Postman Pat, Gran and some 2D shorts with the famed Ronald Searle. It was also here that Ivor first devised Paddington Bear for FilmFair.

Woodland Animations, 1979 - 58 Queens Gate Mews, South Kensington

Woodland Animations, 1979 – 58 Queens Gate Mews, South Kensington

Things were getting busy and as the studio grew it slowly pushed the Wood family out, who were living above the garages (you can see son Sean at the window above). As Josiane remembers “when full production started we had to move out as the flat above was getting far too small: one room became the editing room!” and it was said that the editing software was so heavy they always thought one day it would fall through the ceiling crushing the sets below. Things were getting too much for the little mews house so Ivor bought a place at 24 Bagley’s Lane in Fulham which would go onto create the rest of Woodlands output including the charming Bertha and Charlie Chalk.

Queens Gate Mews didn’t go to waste but became the hub of Woodlands licensing and merchandising arm, as well as a storage vessel for all the numerous sets and equipment.

In pictures – Ivor at Filmfair

A little gem to share with you all today of Ivor Wood towards the end of his time at FilmFair. The photo would have been taken around the late 70’s and shows from left to right Ivor Wood, Barry Macey and Barry Leith setting up a multi-plane camera, probably in Blandford Studios.

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(Left to right) Ivor Wood, Barry Macey and Barry Leith at FilmFair

The photo shows the three of them setting up a multi-plane camera for a pilot that Barry Macey was shooting called TeeGee and Moony, a adaptation of a french children’s book based on two cats. Ivor’s involvement was minimal at this time as he was in the midst of a few major goings on both at FilmFair and in his personal work. Barry Macey remembers The Wombles set’s being dismantled and coming to an end whilst Paddington Bear was just starting to be animated. In an aside to this Ivor was already in the process of developing Postman Pat for the BBC which would inevitably lead to him leaving FilmFair and setting up his own studio, Woodland Animations.

Barry Leith would stay on to animate the second series of Paddington and some of the TV specials along with other outings at Filmfair such as Portland Bill.

Barry Macey focused his efforts on pilots and worked closely with Graham Clutterbuck, FilmFairs producer. TeeGee and Moony was presented to the BBC but got a response of “why cats?” and to my knowledge never went any further. Barry then drifted onto illustrating Paddington leaving FilmFair for The Paddington Company before returning in 1980 when FilmFair was bought out by Central Telelvision.

There is more from both the Barry’s from their time working with Ivor and FilmFair so stay tuned for more.