Postman Pat sketches by Ivor Wood

Following on from last weeks post on Postman Pat teaches English, we take a look this week at the accompanying booklet that Ivor hand illustrated to go with the video.

Each episode of the EFL series was adapted from the first series of Postman Pat. Within the booklet is a series of illustrations by Ivor accompanied by French text explaining and teaching children whats happening within the episode. I’ve included one of these episode teachings below. For those that can speak French I’m sure you can guess what episode it is. For those who can’t it’s the 5th episode of the first series entitled ‘The Sheep in the Clover Field’. The episode first aired on 7th October 1981.

PP_EFL_Illustrations 4

As you can see the illustration style is the beautiful sketchy look that Ivor was so good at. A personal favourite style of mine it really helps us to see the thought process and how well Ivor was at communicating poses and expressions in a few simple lines. Something that he translated so well onto the stop-motion sets. It’s great to see how his ideas were probably formed in those early days of Postman Pat and how tangible he still feels even though he’s flat on a piece of paper. Ivor seems to draw him fatter and shorter in these illustrations, which is an interesting change from his tall, elongated 3D creation. Perhaps the limits of the puppet rigs had to make him him longer and more pliable. Shorter characters, tending to have shorter limbs, can often be harder to manipulate making the animation process increasingly time consuming. Maybe Ivor had had enough of that with The Wombles.


PP_EFL_Illustrations 1

It truly is a great insight into Ivor’s mind and how he imagined Pat. Another glimpse of this book next week.

Postman Pat and Ivor Wood teach English

In between producing both series of Postman Pat, series 1 in 1981 and series 2 in 1997, Ivor started to use Pat in a whole new way. Both Ivor and his wife Josiane were determined to crack the French educational market and Postman Pat was the man to help them do this.

Promotional leaflet for Postman Pat EFL

Promotional leaflet for Postman Pat EFL

Postman Pat EFL video 'English is fun with Postman Pat - By Ivor Wood and Woodland Animations

Postman Pat EFL video ‘English is fun with Postman Pat – By Ivor Wood and Woodland Animations

With strong roots in France from his early life and years creating the Magic Roundabout it was only a matter of time before Ivor produced something else, specific, for the French audience. His and Woodlands idea was simple, to create a show that helped French children learn English. With their friend Robert Maniquant and a little help from Joe Hambrook at the BBC they set about creating Postman Pat EFL (English for Foreign Language), as Josiane briefly goes onto explain.

Ivor used shots from the (first) series to adapt to the programme, dialogues were carefully done with Robert and new recordings made. It had been quite difficult and involved. Robert got the distribution rights and managed to get Postman Pat EFL at la FNAC and also distributing the videos himself.

From this small description and in talking to Josiane it really was a labour of love and something they all wanted to achieve success. Woodland went onto release 2 Postman Pat EFL videos, of which you can see pictured, comprising of 26 x 5 minute episodes. As part of ‘an innovative multi-media package’ one even had an Ivor illustrated booklet to go along with it. More of which next week. At this time there would only have been a hint at producing a 2nd series of Postman Pat and to Ivor this may have seemed like Pat’s last foray into the world as he was not keen on producing a 2nd series. Even though it is a re-edit of existing animation it is still a testament to Ivor, Josiane and the team at Woodland to push the boundaries in what they set out to achieve and to always look for new and interesting ways to develop their content.