Ivor Wood

'Postman Pat' animator

Ivor Wood, animator: born Leeds 4 May 1932; married 1961 Josiane Lappine (one son); died London 13 October 2004.

Ivor Wood brought pleasure to several generations of children, not to mention their parents, with a succession of animated programmes for BBC Children's Television from the 1960s to the 1990s. His four most popular programmes were The Magic Roundabout, Paddington Bear, The Wombles and Postman Pat.

In 2001 he sold his production company, Woodland Animations, to Entertainment Rights for £5.1m. The purchasers have now commissioned a new series about the kindly village postman and his cat Jess from Cosgrove Hall.

Born in Yorkshire in 1932, Wood grew up with his French mother in a small village outside Lyons in France, and later studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Unable to sell his paintings, he first worked as a lift operator in a factory, then took a job with a company making commercials, La Comète, where he learnt about animation.

He teamed up with Serge Danot, who was developing The Magic Roundabout, or Le Manège Enchanté, at the time, using the relatively new technique of stop-motion. In 1964 they sold the idea to French television, but were initially rejected by the BBC who thought it would be difficult to dub into English.

However their case was taken up by Joy Whitby, the enterprising producer of the BBC's Play School who suggested one of her presenters, Eric Thompson, should translate from the French and provide the narration. With its quirky charm and original look, the show was an instant hit when first shown in October 1965. At the peak of its popularity, the show achieved viewing figures of eight million.

In 1968 Wood collaborated with the writer Michael Bond on The Herbs, whose characters lived in a secret herb garden. The BBC commissioned 39 15-minute films which Wood created on the kitchen table of his Paris apartment. Such was its popularity at the time that a spin-off series, The Adventures of Parsley, was commissioned.

Wood also adapted Elizabeth Beresford's stories about the Wombles of Wimbledon Common, making the puppet Wombles himself and directing all 60 of the five-minute episodes. The Wombles pioneered recycling before it became fashionable, picking up litter left by the careless humans on Wimbledon Common. Other projects in the 1970s included Simon in the Land of Chalk and Paddington Bear, for which Wood successfully combined a three-dimensional bear puppet with 2-D cardboard cut-outs of the other characters. It became a worldwide hit.

Probably Wood's greatest commercial success was Postman Pat, based on the stories of John Cunliffe, about the misadventures of a kindly postman in the picturesque village of Greendale. Wood re-mortgaged his house to finance the project and produced 26 episodes in the early Eighties, followed by a further 30 films in the early Nineties. It sold to more than 50 foreign markets, with massive video sales.

The sale of his company to Entertainment Rights three years ago made Wood a wealthy man, but it made little difference to his life style. He and his French wife Josiane continued to divide their time between London and Lyons, as they had done for a number of years.

Nick Smurthwaite

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all