Ivor Wood at Manchester Animation Festival – Part 1

Thanks so much for everyones amazing support and excitement about The World of Ivor Wood panel at this years Manchester Animation Festival. As you’ll all know last Thursday at 10am myself, Joseph Wallace and Josiane Wood sat with festival host Steve Henderson and embarked on an hour long presentation remembering all the amazing work that Ivor produced over his long and illustrious career.

The World of Ivor Wood panel at Manchester Animation Festival 2017

The World of Ivor Wood panel at Manchester Animation Festival 2017 – (From LtoR) Joseph Wallace, Josiane Wood, Tom Sanders and Steve Henderson

To say we were nervous would be a understatement. We all remarked that it was like the night before an exam on the Wednesday evening. All that myself and Joseph had learnt and all that Josiane had experienced was being put to the test. As the room on Thursday started to fill up we were overwhelmed by the turn out. None of us knew what to expect and to see so many eager people flooding into Cinema 1 was just awesome, in the true sense of the word.

Postman Pat and Jess and the original Jess the Cat - Manchester Animation Festival 2017

Postman Pat and Jess and the original Jess the Cat – Manchester Animation Festival 2017

As well as us at the front we were joined by some of Ivor’s best loved creations. On loan from Mackinnon and Saunders, the leading puppet creators in the UK, were the original Jess the Cat, some of Ivor’s head design explorations and Pat and Jess from the new series of the show. Last but by no means least we had the mighty Parsely from The Herbs join us, only revealing himself when his show came up in conversation, much to the audiences delight.

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The World of Ivor Wood panel at Manchester Animation Festival 2017 – Charlie Chalk presentation

The talk lasted longer than expected, stretching over the scheduled hour as we poured over Ivor’s career. Everything from his days at La Comete and The Magic Roundabout, through to The Wombles and Paddington and finally finishing with Woodlands creations, Postman Pat and Charlie Chalk. Along the way we peppered our slides with never before seen backstage photographs, stills from the shows and clips from Ivor’s work with the famed Ronald Searle. It was a pure delight seeing the array of projects up on the BIG screen and great to share some stories from Ivor’s career with a new audience.

As the panel ended it was a pleasure to meet people who follow the blog and others who beamed with surprise at the fact one man produced so many iconic shows in his lifetime. Everyone was reminiscing about their childhood, remembering with fondness how the shows were the highlight of their afternoons. Many even saying that it was Ivor’s work that propelled them into animation.

No sooner had the talk finished than Joseph Wallace’s retrospective started up in the adjacent cinema. A comprehensive collection of an episode of all of Ivor’s shows (sadly apart from The Magic Roundabout due to complicated rights). This went down a storm with many of the talks audience sitting down once more for a trip down memory lane.

Meet The Herbs at Manchester Animation Festival 2017

Meet The Herbs at Manchester Animation Festival 2017 – (LtoR) Parsely, Sage, Sir Basil and Dill

As if that wasn’t enough of an Ivor Wood packed morning, we had one more surprise in store for the plucky festival goer…Meet The Herbs. At 1pm the doors were opened into the event space and in flocked a mass of people all eager to catch a glimpse and selfie with The Herbs puppets. The reaction to seeing these puppets in ‘the flesh’ was again slightly overwhelming. People were chattering away, remembering episodes and asking questions. It was so wonderful to see how a show first broadcast in the 1960s was still relevant and just as fondly thought of as it was back then.

For me the opportunity to do a panel of this sort on Ivor Wood’s work was truly special. It was the first one of it’s kind dedicated to Ivor and one that was much overdue. I feel it helped to gain a larger and more appreciative audience to Ivor’s work and most importantly help people join the dots and link together all the shows that he created and the fact that it was his creative mind that formed them all.

This is only part 1 of my report on The World of Ivor Wood at Manchester Animation Festival as there is so much more to discuss and share with you. This includes a videoing of the entire talk by a good friend of mine, Rachel Crook. I’m editing it down as we speak so expect that in the coming weeks. For now I hope you enjoy the above and all the images that come with it.

Thanks again for everyones support on the blog, as if it wasn’t for your keen interest this panel would have been a lot harder to make happen.

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Meet The Herbs Puppets

The wait is finally over, here is some VERY exciting news that I’ve been waiting to tell you about for a loooong time. A while ago I was put in touch with Michael Bond’s daughter Karen in the prospect of learning more about Paddington and Michael’s work with Ivor. A call led to her telling me that she had just received a lot of old promo material for Paddington from their copyrighters as they were having a huge clear-out. She explained that there were a few boxes that she thought contained all the puppets from Ivor’s The Herbs series. No sooner had she said this, we’d arranged to meet up and delve into those boxes.

So myself and fellow researcher Joseph Wallace headed into London and below is what we found…

The Herbs puppets - Created by Ivor Wood

The Herbs puppets – Created by Ivor Wood – Parsley, Sage, Dill, Lady Rosemary, Sir Basil, Tarragon, The Onion Family

The Herbs puppets - Created by Ivor Wood

Parsley the Lion and Dill the Dog. Original Herbs puppets created by Ivor Wood.

I think you’ll agree it was an amazing discovery and totally unexpected. The majority of the puppets were there: Sir Basil, Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog, Sage the Owl, Tarragon Dragon, Lady Rosemary and the gaggle of little Chives. They all seemed in fine condition bearing in mind their age and it was so great to see Ivor’s craftsmen-ship had served to stand the test of time.

Each puppet was lovingly wrapped up in tissue paper and having no prior knowledge as to who we were going to unwrap next it was like Christmas day. As you’ll see each puppet was still able to hold it’s own weight and the majority of their joints were still supple and easy to move. Sir basil was missing his iconic monocle and Parsley’s mane was looking a tad deflated but overall pleasing to see they were all in one piece and being looked after.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be delving into look at the puppets a bit more and have some close up photos of how the puppets were constructed and theories on when they were last used and comparisons to how they looked back in the day.

But thats not all!. 

At Manchester Animation Festival on 16th November you’ll be able to actually meet the puppets themselves. We are getting special permission to take them up to Manchester and let you all take a real life look at them. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity as they have never ever been publicly shown before so get yourself a pass if you can and come meet The Herbs. Myself, Joseph and Ivor’s wife Josiane will also be there to answer all your questions too. You can get tickets and read more about the event here:

http://www.manchesteranimationfestival.co.uk/events/meet-the-herbs/

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