Nuggets from you the followers

Big thanks to everyone whose been in touch over the last few weeks it’s been great fun looking through all your amazing and insightful comments. The information that you put forward was so good that I thought it deserved a post of it’s own. So in no particular order here are those intriguing little tit-bits.

Firstly thanks to Nick a few weeks ago for discovering where the second Paddington Bear puppet is and most interestingly where it’s been.

Paddington Bear puppet – Image taken from the http://www.bbc.co.uk

Great blog and a very interesting read! I found this article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-36372330 which mentions Gyles (Brandreth) had an original Paddington Bear too. I have also found the the Museum of London had Paddington on display in the last couple of years and also the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon….did you know about these? Looking forward to more updates!

Nick

A great find and it’s really nice to know that both bears are now accounted for. I know that Barry Macey (Paddington animator) had one of the puppets in his shed for a long while as he used to take photos of the puppet for magazines and books. Will have to enquire as to what one that was.

Next up, with a surprise I wasn’t expecting, is Gareth Jones who has spotted another cross-over in Ivor’s work. Would you believe Charlie Chalks Merrytwit Island actually appears in Postman Pat…

Looking at that, remember Postman Pat Takes Flight and the film that was on it has someone on a hot air balloon and it looked like it was floating over trader jones store do you think there’s a connection to this character?

Gareth Jones

At first, I’ll admit, I was sceptical but take a look for yourself above. The Major is featured showing a film of his travels and he indeed does take a hot air balloon ride over Merrtwit and Trader Jones cabin. A great find and it makes total sense as Series 2 of Pat was created after Charlie Chalk so the sets would have certainly been knocking around. It is rumoured that Ivor didn’t much want to produce the 2nd series of Pat as he felt it had run it’s course. However placing a Charlie Chalk reference within it must have raised his spirits.

In addition to this point, Jay from The Herbs Homestead (a superb blog all on The Herbs www.theherbs.homestead.com) cleverly points out in reference to the article on the lost Charlie Chalk character (Max the Big Game Hunter)

Maybe the similarities with an earlier character (Max the Big Game Hunter) were just too striking ?
“Hunter…..wouldn’t hurt a fly……always in trouble with Captain Mildred”
Just replace Captain Mildred with Lady Rosemary and you’ve effectively got Sir Basil from The Herbs.

Jay

Again thanks so much for all these great finds and information. It’s a pleasure to do this blog and with you all contributing it makes it all the more satisfying. Hopefully they’ll be some more great finds for you in the next post.

I’d also like to say a big thanks to Gill who has kindly sent this months Waitrose magazine to me as it has an interview with Sir Michael Bond, author of Paddington and The Herbs. I’ll makes sure to give it a read!

In Pictures – The Magic Roundabout

We’re off on a surreal journey today. One, due to the fact we’re talking The Magic Roundabout and two, a wonderfully weird piece of animation I discovered.

le-manege-enchante-2

We haven’t hear much from The Magic Roundabout as yet and that is partly due me wanting to shine the light on other shows before this one. The other is it’s harder to gain interviews with people that created work nearly 50 years ago! That is about to change though, as I’m going to try my damnedest to curate some great content for you folks. In the meantime here are some wonderful promotional photographs taken of the puppets and sets for what was to become Ivor Wood’s most iconic creation.

le-manege-enchante

Also on my quest I stumbled across this little gem. It’s a film from a French documentary and portrays the life story of Serge Danot, the initial concept creator of The Magic Roundabout. It illustrates how he went from humble beginnings, painting the great Eiffel Tower as part of renovations, to injuring himself on site. It was in convalescence that he thought more on the ideas of film production and found himself a cleaning job at La Comete in Paris. It was here after some rung climbing and determination that he went on to meet Ivor. As you’ll see near the end of the film it was a meeting of great minds.

Ivor Wood animating The Wombles

Okay, so BIG error on my part today. I started writing a long post on the designing of the Wombles and was all ready with it until I realised that the book I wanted to use as reference is in storage! So you’ll have to do with something more digital from what’s on my computer.

Lucky for you it’s some gold dust which I can’t believe I haven’t already shared with you. You may remember I while back (here) that I shared some amazing photographs of Ivor Wood at work and animating The Wombles. Ivor’s son Sean had dug them out of his mother, Josiane’s, loft or The Archive as we’ve been calling it. Anyway without further ado here are the rest of those images. Hope you enjoy and apologies again for the lack of references. Hope to have everything back in working order in a few weeks.

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Ivor Wood animating The Wombles - 1970-72

Ivor Wood animating The Wombles (Orinoco, Wellington and Tobermory – 1970-72

Elisabeth Beresford looks at The Wombles script Series 1 - 1970-72

Elisabeth Beresford looks at The Wombles script Series 1 – 1970-72

Ivor Wood and Elisabeth Beresford discuss The Wombles - 1970-72

Ivor Wood and Elisabeth Beresford discuss The Wombles – 1970-72

10 secrets from the set of Postman Pat

Just a quick post today folks as we’re super busy here at Tinmouse in the run up to Christmas. It’s a little nugget I found on the CBBC website ’10 secrets from the set of Postman Pat’.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

"Some of the houses in Greendale are original structures, which date back to the first series of Postman Pat, 35 years ago!" Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

“Some of the houses in Greendale are original structures, which date back to the first series of Postman Pat, 35 years ago!” Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

CBBC have gone behind the scenes of the new Postman Pat series and pulled out some great photographs from backstage. Most prominently and exciting of all the points in the Top 10 is surely no.10 itself. Actual sets from the very first series that Ivor created are still being used to this day! This is incredible news to see that they’ve stood the test of time. The Woodland Animations team must have worked to a very high standard.

"If the characters are feeling unwell, there's someone to take care of them. The Puppet Doctor is on call for any emergency surgery or repairs." Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

“If the characters are feeling unwell, there’s someone to take care of them. The Puppet Doctor is on call for any emergency surgery or repairs.” Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

It’s also great to see all the details that go into making such a series and a great chance to see the current puppets up close. Their production process, whilst a lot larger, is much the same as Ivor’s would have been over at Woodland. As they mention due to the constant stress put on the puppets there are multiple arms and hands everywhere for backup. This would have been an exact problem Ivor and the team would have experienced and replacements would have been key in order not to bring hault to the production. In addition to these great insights another parallel with Ivor’s production is the ironing of the clothes. Ivor was very particular with the clothes for all his characters. From Paddington Bear through to Charlie Chalk, Ivor would iron and even hang the clothes up on little hangers to keep them looking pristine. Now theres dedication for you.

"Our Pat is a fashion guru - he needs frequent wardrobe updates. His uniforms wear out quite regularly, and as there are five Pat figures, the production team have to make about 20 new uniforms over the course of a series." Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

“Our Pat is a fashion guru – he needs frequent wardrobe updates. His uniforms wear out quite regularly, and as there are five Pat figures, the production team have to make about 20 new uniforms over the course of a series.” Image from CBBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/postman-pat-behind-the-scenes

So nice to see that even though the pace, characters and plots have been modernised the aesthetic is still the same and Pat is still the local Postman bringing a friendly face and caring nature to the heart of the community.

Clangers, Bagpuss & Co Exhibition

We’re taking a quick detour this week and sort of away from Ivor Wood (I know!).It took me a while to make it down to the Museum of Childhood in London, a week before the exhibition closed in fact, but I did make it to the Small Films presents Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. As I’m sure you are too I am a big fan of all things animation and want to learn more about British animation in particular. Often looking at others work from certain time periods can help to inform you what styles, techniques and fashions were present and how these influenced the industry of the day.

Image taken from http://www.simonleachdesign.com/

Clangers, Bagpuss & Co. was a small exhibition showcasing some of the incredible work that Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin did at Small Films. The work on show ranged from the beautifully craftef Bagpuss and Clangers puppets to the exquisite illustrations for Noggin the Nog and Ivor the Engine. For me as a 2D animator it was great to see all the original illustrations for the latter shows. Peter Firmin, who started life as an illustrator, showed superb draftsmanship and creativity and his imagination looked effortless. All carefully inked and water-coloured the depth he created with so few detailed lines was a wonder. Much like viewing Ivor’s work in reality the vivid colours that were used really jump out at you. It seems somewhat a shame that televisions’s then weren’t quite the standard they are today. We seem to lose a whole other level to what these pioneers were trying to communicate.

Much like Ivor Wood, Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin were pioneering in their work and it was a boom time in the 1960s for stop-motion animation and one that these 3 really helped to shape. I firmly believe that if this mixture and variety of stop-motion animation hadn’t been going on in parallel then we wouldn’t have this great body of work to look back on and indeed grow up with. It must have been an inspiring time to be in the industry and with big broadcasters taking notice there was nothing these guys couldn’t achieve.

Ivor the Engine artwork by Peter Firmin of Small Films Image taken from http://thedeadpixels.squarespace.com/articles/clangers-bagpuss-and-co-exhibition

Ivor the Engine artwork by Peter Firmin of Small Films. Image taken from http://thedeadpixels.squarespace.com/articles/clangers-bagpuss-and-co-exhibition

Overall the exhibition,Clangers, Bagpuss & Co was interesting but lacked depth and seemed quite quickly slung together. The information that was on offer next to each artwork seem more directed at the general public rather than a fan of animation and puppets. This obviously made it accessible so I’m not arguing with that. The puppets as fellow Ivor Wood researcher, Joseph Wallace, also mentioned were dimly lit and not at head height which meant a lot of bending down and peering trying to catch all the details. All in all it’s brilliant to have such a exhibition doing the rounds and the creators getting the love and dedication that they so rightly deserve. It’s about time!

Perhaps it’s time Ivor Wood had the same treatment. What you reckon?

*I lost all my photos on my camera so I hope these kind folks don’t mind me sharing some of theirs

Voice of Postman Pat, Ken Barrie dies aged 73

Ken Barrie the voice of Postman Pat sadly passed away yesterday aged 73 after a battle with cancer. It was an announcement that many of us will be saddened by and a voice that many of us grew up with, helping shape Ivor Wood and John Cunliffes’ Postman Pat.

Ken Barrie the voice of Postman Pat - Image taken from bbc.co.uk - BBC/LORRAINE HULME PETERSON

Ken Barrie the voice of Postman Pat – Image taken from bbc.co.uk – BBC/LORRAINE HULME PETERSON

Ken’s voice of Postman Pat was a comforting one that children and indeed parents alike had grown up with for generations and one that still, at least for me, brings back countless fond memories. As well as Pat he also voiced all the other characters in series 1, finally being joined in series 2 by Carole Boyd in 1991. Ken along with acting out the array of characters such as Ted Glen, Mrs Hubbard and Mrs Goggin’s also got the task of singing that oh so catchy theme song written by Brian Daly. Its familiar upbeat folky rhythm perfectly suited Ken’s warming tones and set the scene perfectly for a relaxing jaunt through the Yorkshire Dales.

Ivor’s wife Josiane remembers Ken as “thoroughly nice chap” and someone they were put in contact with through Brian Daly. After writing the theme tune for Pat, Brian called upon Ken Barrie to sing the opening number. It was this connection that Josiane recalls being the reason they used Ken to be the voice actor. As well voicing the character and singing the theme tune he also lent himself to the other songs in the episodes, such as ‘Handyman Song’ and ‘Jess the Cat’.

Not content with using Ken only on Postman Pat, Ivor and the team at Woodland also used him to sing the opening song to Charlie Chalk. This time written by Mike Redway it was Ken that helped to cement the same comforting feel to what would be Woodlands last original creation.

It is very sad news to hear about the passing of such a talent but Ken Barrie’s voice will be remembered for countless generations to come in the form of everyones favourite Yorkshire Postman.

 

Postman Pat series 2 with George Laban

Picture the year it’s 1994 and Ivor Wood is finishing up at Woodland Animations. At Woodland alone he’s created the hugely successful Postman Pat along with Gran, Bertha and fan favourite Charlie Chalk. As he began to wind down to retirement the BBC reared their head and persuaded a reluctant Ivor to produce a second series of Postman Pat. As usual Ivor looked to fresh talent to animate Pat and looked to a young George Laban to fill this role, as George goes onto explain:

I went to Manchester poly and did my degree there and then took my first job at Bumper films.When I was just finishing there I sent my CV out to loads of people and got a phone call from Ivor asking “Have you ever heard of Postman Pat?”. Funnily I got two offers at the same time, one for Molly’s Gang based in Clerkenwell Studios, so I went for interviews for both on the same day. I got both jobs but took the chance to work for Ivor.

George Laban with Postman Pat Courtesy of Toy Trader, March 1996

George Laban on the set of Postman Pat series 2          Image sourced from Toy Trader, March 1996

George Laban with Paddington Bear

George Laban with another Ivor Wood creation, Paddington Bear

Georges decision led him to start work with Ivor in January 1995 at Woodland Animation’s studio in Fulham. This was a change for George in terms of studio set up. (You can see an earlier post on this here and see Ivor’s letter to George offering him the job).

It was a very small studio about 20ft square. We had a set in the middle on a big table with access down one side and the other. We hung all the houses on the walls down the side and a chap called Ian Jones, who was production manager, helped me set up and make the props. He’d been to the same college as me so he knew me well. It was the three of us eventually that would set up, Ivor, Ian and I. All the props were in boxes piled on the sides, with no order to them. A lot of times parents used to write in and say “Why has Granny Dryden got the same furniture as mrs so and so?” This was because when we set up we’d have the rough layout of the rooms and just dress it with anything that came out of the box.

It was a little cottage industry, everyone in that little room. We’d have Ian in there smoking his roll ups, so the room would be full of smoke. Then there was a little corridor with a room for the toilet and another for a coffee machine. Then Ivor had his little office. He’d be on his pipe so it would get quite smokey but it was nice. You’d go in and they’d be no sort of regime, you came in and then left when you were done. It was all really relaxed and that was probably because Ivor had had enough it all. He’d always be saying “Oh I’m fed up of all this” but you knew deep down that he liked it.

Ivor Wood with Mrs Hubbard's bike Courtesy of Toy Trader, March 1996

Ivor Wood with Mrs Hubbard’s bike. Image Sourced from Toy Trader, March 1996

Georges relationship with Ivor and Ian truly made for a family atmosphere. George was the only animator working on the second series so much different to todays high production costs and employees. We have more from George next time where he’ll be speaking all about the animation process. For now though I’ll leave him with the last word.

Ivor really looked after us, even after the production was over. He was a really genuine bloke, who took a risk with me, who’d barely done any production animation. It took me the first episode to get into the flow of things and Ivor said he amazed that I’d even managed to get Pats limp into it. But I don’t think it was deliberate it was because one of the puppet legs was slightly longer that the other.

[All quotes are from George Laban]