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
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living