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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker