Book Review – The Life and Times of Paddington Bear

We all know the story of how Paddington got his name and how he was found and taken care of by the loving Brown family but how did Paddington come to be in the first place?

The Life and Times of Paddington Bear was published in 1988 and was written by Russell Ash and Paddington author Michael Bond. It features everything from Paddingtons birth, created out of a fondness of Michaels own teddy bear, to the stories, stage and screen and the plethora of merchandise that was spun as the tales became more and more successful.

Stage and screen is obviously where we’ll be drawing our attention as Ivor Wood and FilmFairs depiction of everyones favourite bear was perhaps one his his most famous characterisations. The book features nearly 10 pages on Ivor and the work he did at FilmFair. A mixture of words and pictures it reveals one amazing and rare photograph of Ivor at work on the set of Paddington, on what looks like that ever famous scene of Paddingtons messy introduction to Mr Brown in the station cafe. Also a lovely little illustration of Paddington believed to be an Ivor original.

Ivor Wood animating Paddington Bear Image taken from book Life and Times of Paddington Bear, 1988

Ivor Wood animating Paddington Bear Image taken from book Life and Times of Paddington Bear, 1988

Along with this there are some very kind and praising words written about Ivor’s work on Paddington. Michael Bond was a good friend to Ivor and loved his work so I imagine that this part of the book was heavily authored by him. As the book explains:

Wood’s particular skill, developed in creating these programmes, was that of taking a two-dimensional character and making it into a three-dimensional puppet that could be manipulated and filmed to stimulate movement.

Michael passed the comment that such was the state of Ivor’s art Paddington could do any thing he liked – he could even dance something like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’.

Out of this comment Paddingtons most famous outing developed into 1981’s TV special ‘Paddington Goes to the Movies’ where he sings and dances to Gene Kelly’s famous routine ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. Although animated by Ivor’s no.2 Barry Leith it is a stand out moment in both Paddingtons life and animation as a whole. Although not animating the latter half of the series and specials it was Ivor’s puppet that was so well designed and articulated that enabled everyone who touched him to bring him to life in a way that had never been previously seen.

The model Ivor Wood created was about nine inches high, fully articulated with steel rods and ball-bearing joints. Each finger of his paw moved independently, so that he could clasp objects.

The Life and Times of Paddington Bear is a great read full of insight into the development of one of the nations favourite characters. It reveals Michaels love for Ivor’s work and even greater love for story telling, showing that there was a heart behind Paddington that made everything he did that bit more special. Even though Michael and Ivor had worked before on The Herbs and Adventures of Parsley it was the creation of his most famous and beloved Paddington Bear that really wowed him.

Stop-frame’s principal investment is that of great patience and skill of a man like Ivor Wood – Michael Bond

*All quotes are taken from Life and Times of Paddington Bear by Russell Ash and Michael Bond, 1988

Parsley Parade – Storybook Illustrations

Hello to everyone, it’s been really busy at work over the last couple of weeks so hopefully this exciting new entry will make up for the lack of a post last week.

Parsley Parade Front Cover - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Front Cover – Young Lions 1972

Last month I was very lucky to find and purchase a 1st edition of the Parsley Parade storybook telling tales from his show The Adventures of Parsley. The book was released in 1972 by Young Lions around the same time as the self-titled Adventures of Parsley storybook. You can see our post on that here.

As well as featuring a vast array of Ivor Wood illustrations it also gives us a great shot of the TV show on the front cover. From an episode called ‘Holiday Time’ it shows Parsley precariously perched on the herb gardens greenhouse ready to make his maiden flight. Looks like Dill the dog is expecting trouble.

For this post I thought I’d share one set of illustrations from a story called ‘Looking into the Future’. Centred around Parsleys crystal ball, it doesn’t take Dill long to highjack the situation. They are some of my favourite illustrations of the Herbs as Ivor perfectly depicts both central characters, Parsleys nonchalance and Dill’s over keenness as he cooks up a new scheme. Also the exaggeration of everyones personalities and emotions are wonderfully rendered and was something that Ivor excelled at. Capturing in one pose the whole attitude of a character whether on screen or drawn out.

The way in which Dills body rises up over the crystal ball sums him up to a tee. Over exaggerated and always wanting to look like he knows what he’s doing. On the other hand Bayleaf looks quietly bemused by all thats going on, tentatively waiting for what Dill will come up with.

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood – Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood – Young Lions 1972

After charging to read fortunes Dill ends up eating all his profits. 48 bones! That’ll serve him right.

Postman Pat Series 2 – Letter of employment

Happy New Year to all you Ivor Wood fans. As if we haven’t all received enough gifts, Mr George Laban has sent amazing present for us all to enjoy.

In 1994 after a short time at Bumper Films George Laban applied to work at Ivor’s Woodland Animations on the production of the second and last series of Postman Pat. By the looks of the letter below Ivor accepted and George commenced work on 3rd January 1995. Many thanks to George for sharing this with us and giving us a great insight into Woodland (and how much he was paid!).

George Labans letter of employment from Ivor Wood to work on Postman Pat series 2 at Woodland Animations

George Labans letter of employment from Ivor Wood to work on Postman Pat series 2 at Woodland Animations

The second series of Postman Pat would be one of the final pieces of animation that Ivor created and certainly the last show for the BBC. As George has mentioned to myself Ivor took a well deserved back seat during the production and could often be found in his office smoking on his pipe. Ivor, for want of a better phrase, was gently persuaded to produce the second series by the BBC as it was not something he was keen to do. It did however pay off, quite literally and proved a huge success.

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George Labans letter of employment from Ivor Wood to work on Postman Pat series 2 at Woodland Animations

We have more from George Laban over the coming weeks as he tells us his story on working with Ivor and being the only animator on series two of Postman Pat.