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:

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Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

Had to share this with you all. Whilst flicking through my copy of Michael Bond’s autobiography Bears and Forebears I stumbled across this picture of a very young Ivor Wood. It’s no secret that Ivor and Michael were good friends, producing both Paddington Bear and The Herbs together. It’s the latter that we treated to here, with Ivor standing proudly in front of The Herbs set.

Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

Ivor Wood on the set of The Herbs

As you’ll see Ivor was a young man here and would have probably been taken around the mid 60s as The Herbs was being made. Alternatively it could be lat 60s on the set of The Adventures of Parsley. Perhaps Ivor’s wife Josiane would have a better idea.

As we can see in the background Sage is looking on whilst Dill digs out something from his kennel. Speaking of digging, I’ve got more treats in store so stay tuned.

Also if anyone has any questions or had a particular interest they’d be keen to find out more on then leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

Paddington Bear and The Herbs Sage?

Firstly thanks for all your comments from various people over the last weeks, glad to see there are so many Ivor Wood fans out there. They’ve been great to receive and I’m finally getting a chance to reply to them so my apologies for this. Also thanks to all the new followers, it’s so great to have you all on board as we delve into Ivor Wood’s archive.

This weeks post is more of an observation than anything else. I was flicking through Paddington’s Loose End Book the other day and stumbled across his idea for the letter ‘O’. The book details activities and crafts to do at each letter of the alphabet and when it gets to ‘O’ Paddington suggests creating your very own Owl. A very odd idea indeed but when you take a look at the picture it starts to make sense…

…is that Sage from The Herbs?

Owls - Paddingtons Loose End Book, Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Owls – Paddingtons Loose End Book, Illustrated by Ivor Wood

This  might be one of those things that we never find out and I have no idea how much input Ivor had in the creation of the content of the book. However the author, Michael Bond, also famously wrote and created The Herbs so pretty sure this isn’t a coincidence. It’s the only cross-reference I’ve ever seen so thought it’s be good to share with you all. Especially for all those Herbs fans out there.


Parsley Parade – Storybook Illustrations

Hello to everyone, it’s been really busy at work over the last couple of weeks so hopefully this exciting new entry will make up for the lack of a post last week.

Parsley Parade Front Cover - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Front Cover – Young Lions 1972

Last month I was very lucky to find and purchase a 1st edition of the Parsley Parade storybook telling tales from his show The Adventures of Parsley. The book was released in 1972 by Young Lions around the same time as the self-titled Adventures of Parsley storybook. You can see our post on that here.

As well as featuring a vast array of Ivor Wood illustrations it also gives us a great shot of the TV show on the front cover. From an episode called ‘Holiday Time’ it shows Parsley precariously perched on the herb gardens greenhouse ready to make his maiden flight. Looks like Dill the dog is expecting trouble.

For this post I thought I’d share one set of illustrations from a story called ‘Looking into the Future’. Centred around Parsleys crystal ball, it doesn’t take Dill long to highjack the situation. They are some of my favourite illustrations of the Herbs as Ivor perfectly depicts both central characters, Parsleys nonchalance and Dill’s over keenness as he cooks up a new scheme. Also the exaggeration of everyones personalities and emotions are wonderfully rendered and was something that Ivor excelled at. Capturing in one pose the whole attitude of a character whether on screen or drawn out.

The way in which Dills body rises up over the crystal ball sums him up to a tee. Over exaggerated and always wanting to look like he knows what he’s doing. On the other hand Bayleaf looks quietly bemused by all thats going on, tentatively waiting for what Dill will come up with.

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood – Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood - Young Lions 1972

Parsley Parade Illustrations by Ivor Wood – Young Lions 1972

After charging to read fortunes Dill ends up eating all his profits. 48 bones! That’ll serve him right.

Parsley the Lion – Story Book Illustrations

First published in 1972 by, the aptly named, Young Lions, ‘Parsley The Lion’ was a story book to tie in with the popular Herbs TV spin off ‘The Adventures of Parsley’. The book was written by Michael Bond and lovingly illustrated by Ivor Wood throughout.

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

This second edition of ‘Parsley The Lion’ was printed in 1987 and features Ivor’s colourful illustrations on the front cover. The first edition featured a still from the show, portraying Parsley and Dill fixing his car from the episode ‘Parsley’s Breakdown’.

At FimFair, producer Graham Clutterbuck, actively encouraged his staff to take on a variety of different jobs and this often meant illustrating the various programmes they created for books and merchandise. In his time at the studio Ivor produced illustrations not only for The Herbs and Adventures of Parsley but The Wombles and Paddington in his trade mark sketchy line.


Sir Basil, Lady Rosemary and Constable Knapweed

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Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog and Sage the Owl

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Parsley the Lion and Dill the Dog in Parsleys Car

The drawings were often sketched and painted on two layers to give the printer and publisher options to print in colour or black and white. As we see in some of the illustrations Ivor has used watercolour to add vibrancy and pick out the recognisable shades of all the characters.

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Parsley The Lion. Second edition published 1987. Illustrated by Ivor Wood

Another book does exist within the same collection named ‘Parsley Parade’ which also looks to be illustrated by Ivor but copies are short so this maybe a post for another day.


In Pictures – The Herbs

Created believe it or not on the kitchen table at Ivor and Josiane Wood’s flat in Paris, The Herbs was a huge success and took Ivor Wood’s design and animation sensibilities to an even greater audience. This week I thought I’d share with you all some great pictures sent over from a friend of Josiane’s. They show some great moments from the The Herbs first series.

The Herbs - Parsley the Lion

The Herbs – Parsley the Lion

The Herbs - Lady Rosemary, Sir Basil, Constable Knapweed, Belladonna

The Herbs – Lady Rosemary, Sir Basil, Constable Knapweed, Belladonna

The Herbs was the first programme that Ivor worked on post Magic Roundabout and the first programme  that he produced with Graham Clutterbuck at FilmFair. Graham was approached by the BBC to animate a show written by the now esteemed Michael Bond. They wanted a feel much like the Magic Roundabout and who else for the creator role but Ivor. Michael Bond came up with the idea after he was asked to write a childrens show for the BBC. He’d had the idea of herbs coming to life after leafing through a herb book at home. From the get go he knew what he wanted to do and set about creating all the characters we now all fondly remember, Parsely the Lion, Sage the Owl, Dill the Dog, Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary. Not to forget the rather more colourful character of Tarragon the Dragon.

The Herbs - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Sir Basil,  Dill and Bayleaf

The Herbs – Parsley, Sage, Lady Rosemary, Sir Basil, Dill and Bayleaf

This is also a great opportunity to share with you the a great blog written by huge Herbs fan Jay. He’s collated a mind of information and images that really get into the heart of the creation of The Herbs and all the avenues it went down as it grew in popularity and nostalgia. Check it out, it’s must for any Ivor Wood or Herbs fan.

The Herbs Overview

First aired (The Herbs): 1968  |  Producer: FilmFair  |  Ivor Wood’s Role: Animator and Director

First aired (AofP): 1970  |  Producer: FilmFair  |  Ivor Wood’s Role: Animator and Director

Ivor Wood’s first into directing a TV show. He not only directed but animated and created all the puppets for The Herbs. Created in France for FilmFair it was created for the BBC. Following its success a spin-off series The Adventures of Parsely involving The Herbs leading and most popular character .