Postman Pat was Ivor’s biggest success in his own right but it would have been nothing without the writing of John Cunliffe, who came up with the whole concept of the show including storylines and characters.
Whilst at the BBC Written Archives I stumbled across the original descriptions of the characters of Postman Pat. If you take a look below you’ll see the original descriptions sent to the BBC from John Cunliffe for them to approve. I’ve included a few below so take a look and see how much carried over into the final show:
Pat Clifton – 35 – Forge Cottage, Greendale. Popularly known as Postman Pat. A tall, slightly angular man, he generally has a smile flickering over his face, as though he’s relishing a good joke or contemplating a word that he considers to be decidedly comical. He enjoys his work since there’s nothing he likes better than to chat to all kinds of people and he does this all day, He also enjoys helping people ; it makes him feel valued.
So Pat really hasn’t changed much for the original description, remaining a jolly chap full of kindness. There is however no mention of his faithful companion Jess as yet, so I’ll do some more digging on that front.
Thompson Ground – This is a small farm high on the side of the fell, looking down into the valley. It has been in the Thompson family for countless generations, hence it’s name.
Mr Alf Thompson – 52 – small, tough, sturdy as a fell farmer needs to be. He follows his sheep all over the fells. The weather has ruddied his face and knotted his joints. He has a dry humour.
Mrs Dorothy Thompson – 49 – also small and quick moving in word and deed. She looks frail but is really very strong, and copes easily with a women’s large share of the work. She keeps, on her account, hens, ducks and a few geese.
Bill Thompson – 25 – “Young Bill” retains many youthful hobbies, such as model-aircraft. A keen member of the Young Farmers’ Club and an indispensable help to his father. He has no ambition other to keep the farm going when his father is gone, and to breed a Herdwick ram that win first at the county show.
Alf and Dorothy remain largely un-changed but their son Bill certainly makes a significant leap. John changes the character of Bill as the show progresses and notes in this letter “Bill Thompson to be reduced in age to 11”. This is most likely to allow him to part of the school. He still remains one of the eldest children along with Charlie Pringle but means all the children can congregate as one and requires less back stories.
Greendale Farm – A large mixed farm on the valley floor, near to Birkmere (the valley’s largest lake) and the valley mouth. It is the most prosperous of the farms, having the best land and being the largest.
Mr Henry Pottage – 41 – something of a gentleman farmer, he sports a moustache and side whiskers, sporty tweeds and a shooting stick. He is though, closely involved in the farm’s work but has sufficient workers to allow him reasonable leisure to enjoy country life.
Mrs Julia Pottage – 39 – quite fashionable dressed, but practically for country life. A leading member of the W.I. and Mothers’ Guid, she is busy with the social affairs of the dale and to this purpose attends meetings in Pencaster, and sometimes, even, in Carlisle. has “help” in the house and with the twins.
Katy and Tom Pottage – 6 – twins. Dressed quite expensively in good quality denims, t-shirts and brightly coloured wellies. Katy is bright, quick, enquiring, humorous, full of inquisitive activity. Tom is quiet, inward, thumb sucking, thoughtful and follows unquestionably where Katy leads.
Peter Fogg – 21 – the Pottages’ shepherd. Sun-browned, brown eyes and a Zapata moustache, Lithe and energetic; handsome and popular with the ladies. Has a motor-bike and often goes to the disco in Pencaster, returning late a t night, to waken the valley with the roar of his bike.
The first thing that you’ll notice is the exclusion of Henry Pottage, the father of the twins. This character is never mentioned throughout the first 2 series and also not in any of the future series. An odd exclusion but probably explained by him being busy working on the farm.
Peter Fogg is a very interesting character with his galavanting, womanising ways. He certainly comes across as a charming, affable character in the show and certainly has one of the more interesting back stories. Also I would have loved to see him with that moustache!
Intake Farm – A moor top farm; really remote, without even a view of the valley and very marginal land. Two bachelor brothers scrape a poor living there, mainly from sheep. They also keep hens.
George Lancaster – 49 – a large boned, sad looking man, dressed in clothes bought at jumble sales, often ancient suits sizes too small or too big and in advanced stages of disrepair.
Wilf Lancaster – 39 – his dress is similar to George’s, but he has a jaunty air about him, the foil to his elder brother’s lugubriousness.
George remains the sole owner of Intake Farm throughout all the series but sticks to his get-up of 2nd hand clothes and un-uniformed appearance. He seems to have taken on the personality of his brother Wilf though with a wide smile instead of being a “sad looking man”
I’ll have some more characters next time when we move onto the characters without farmsteads.
All the quotations are taking from the BBC Written Archives with permissions given from the latter.