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.
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.
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.