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.

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In Pictures – Postman Pat at the Post Office

So this week I received a selection of Postman Pat promotional postcards through my door. Lucky find on Ebay so snapped them up. There were 10 in total and thought I’d share a few of them with you all here.

Postman Pat promotional postcard - Pat and Mrs Goggins at the Post Office.

Postman Pat promotional postcard – Pat and Mrs Goggins at the Post Office.

Postman Pat promotional postcard - Postman Pat at the Post Office with Major Forbes, The Reverend Timms and Granny Dryden.

Postman Pat promotional postcard – Postman Pat at the Post Office with Major Forbes, The Reverend Timms and Granny Dryden.

It’s so great to have a few stills from the show as Google or websites are pretty lacking on the subject, especially from both series Ivor made at Woodland. Still hopefully these will be of interest to you all and bring back some memories. From my recollection I think these are all from series 2 however I will look into this further. The back says copyright Woodland Animation 2000 so they are quite late on and a long time after Postman Pat series 2 was produced.

(To be very picky, if you take a peak at the postcard below and then read the description on the reverse you’ll see that it should be Pat and not Ted mentioned at the start! Ooops!)

Postman Pat promotional postcard -Pat has to borrow an old pair of glasses when his are broken, and Ted Glen drives Pat in his lorry to deliver the post.

Postman Pat promotional postcard -Pat has to borrow an old pair of glasses when his are broken, and Ted Glen drives Pat in his lorry to deliver the post.

Postman Pat promotional postcard - Reverse

Postman Pat promotional postcard – Reverse

 

Postman Pat promotional postcards - Sam Waldron helps with the flowers for the Best Village Competition.

Postman Pat promotional postcards – Sam Waldron helps with the flowers for the Best Village Competition.

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Postman Pat Character Line-Up

A nice simple post today as things are getting busy with studio this end! Can’t forget to share some more Ivor Wood gems with you all though.

Whilst looking through Ivor’s wife Josiane’s loft we found a lot of unseen and rare little pieces. One of which is this A3 print of all the characters from Postman Pat. We’re guessing this is from Series 1 based on the fact that Major Forbes doesn’t appear in the line up. Major Forbes although mentioned in Series 1 doesn’t actually play a physical role until series 2, so hopefully our thinking is correct. (You’ll have to excuse the white line in the middle as my scanner was playing up).

This character colour reference sheet is in order for all merchandisers to accurately depict each character within it’s products. Woodland Animations would have been sent out to all those affiliated with merchandise to make sure that everyone in the Postman Pat world looked the same. It’s great to see all the colourful array of characters in one setting and see Ivor’s work on show. The poses and personalities shine through as always. I love the expressive large hands that is so trade mark to Ivor’s style. He’s not even shy about putting the same sized hands on the children.

Postman Pat Character Colour Reference Sheet

Postman Pat character colour reference sheet

A quick post today before we wrap up on Pat for a while in a few weeks. Thanks for reading!

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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.

 

Storyboarding Postman Pat Series 2

After hearing all about George Laban’s time animating Postman Pat Series 2 I couldn’t help but show you these little rarities from Ivor Wood’s wife Josianes’ personal collection.

Obviously before you start out and animate you need something to animate to and it was Ivor’s job to produce the storyboards for the Woodland shows to hand to the animators to work from. Below we see an example of the first two shots from Episode 2 of Series 2. The episode was entitled “Postman Pat and the Suit of Armour” and revolved around the public opening of Major Forbes, Garner Hall. It was Ted Glens job to buff up and make good it’s suit of armour and after trying it on for size he gets somewhat stuck, leaving only one man to get him out.

Ivor Wood storyboard panel - Postman Pat Episode 2, Series 2 - Postman Pat and the Suit of Armour

Ivor Wood storyboard panel – Postman Pat Episode 2, Series 2

Ivor Wood storyboard panel Sc2 - Postman Pat Episode 2, Series 2 - Postman Pat and the Suit of Armour

Ivor Wood storyboard panel Sc2 – Postman Pat Episode 2, Series 2

As you’ll see above they are some great little sketches from Ivor. Very reminiscent of styles he’s used previously in his other illustrative work. It seems to be his more natural way of drawing and one that is a firm favourite with me. These being sketched for the second series clearly allowed Ivor to be more exact with his layouts as he was already fully aware of how things were positioned on set. We can see this in the comparisons between sketch and the show as they look amazingly similar in layout and composition. Even down to Jess poking her head out of the van. Not quite sure that the props ever stayed the same from concept to final as we’ve heard many times before, on a variety of shows, that things were just put here there and everywhere. If it looked good it stayed in, even if it meant characters sharing most of their belongings.

All going well we should have a couple more treats in store from the Postman Pat archive in the coming weeks, then we’ll move onto something else. Who knows what this will be.

POSTMAN PAT SERIES 2 WITH GEORGE LABAN Part 2

Last time we caught up with George Laban he was explaining how he’d worked with Ivor Wood on the second series of Postman Pat. We heard how he’d joined the small team of 3, consisting of himself, Ian Jones and Ivor creating a real family atmosphere. In part 2 we pick up as George goes onto explain the luxury of animating at your own pace.

We were there for 18 months/2 years and it was quite leisurely. It wasn’t as fast as it was on Bob the Builder later on, where it was a ten day turnaround per episode with 6 animators. We would go through the storyboards then set the shot up, the three of us (Ivor Wood, Ian Jones and George) We’d all dress it, it was a bit of a free for all.

However it was back in the days when the monitor only captured the last frame, no live feed. So it was all the old fashioned way and this was the nerve wracking thing about it. You’d shoot 4 minutes or more worth of film and then you’d have to wait to see if it’d had all come out.

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

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

With the technology being no where near where it is today the process was slow and obviously why the production timescale was so long. George has remarked that it took him at least the 1st episode to get into the swing of things so hopefully the nerves soon wore off and he could really start to enjoy it.

Setting up the shot also meant setting up the camera and Ivor had a very unique piece of kit for the time as George goes onto mention:

There was also this big tower rig that was custom made for Ivor. It was about 8 foot long and about 2.5 foot wide with a tower in the middle. You could go left and right and the camera would go up and down. There was also a tilt on it but we never used that. I can’t remember who had that afterwards, it must have got sold off to someone. When we finished with Ivor in the June I went over to Hot Animation that was just setting up and they were offered a lot of Ivor’s old stuff as he was shutting down.

George Laban animating Postman Pat in a one off special more recently.

George Laban animating Postman Pat in a one off special more recently.

Once set up, the puppets had to adorn the set and it was Georges job to bring them to life, even if it had it’s difficulties:

We used to pin the puppets feet and then snap the pin heads off. We’d then paint the pinheads with a little black marker on his boots so you’d didn’t see the snapped heads. The thing that really got me was the Post Office, as the floor was made of plywood! Try to stick a pin into that! Many pins went through my bloody fingers!

All the puppets were pinned per frame, as we didn’t use magnets due to the floors being fibre board except that Post Office! I know Cosgrove Hall used magnets but Ivor was quite happy doing it this way, making papier mache feet etc.

It seems like a tough old process but one that George speaks about with great passion and one that he wouldn’t have traded for anything. Over his career George went onto animate at Hot Animation, animating their most famous creation Bob the Builder. I’m sure the techniques he learnt with Ivor came in very handy even if they were a tad outdated.

This is sadly all we have from George for now but he has mentioned that he’ll be free for another chat so I’m sure we can ask him a few more questions. If anyone has anything they’d like to ask him on his days at Woodland then please get in touch.

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]