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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent