Ivor the Engine: The Elephant Oliver Postgate

ISBN: 9780955241727

Published: August 3rd 2006


32 pages


Ivor the Engine: The Elephant  by  Oliver Postgate

Ivor the Engine: The Elephant by Oliver Postgate
August 3rd 2006 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, audiobook, mp3, RTF | 32 pages | ISBN: 9780955241727 | 8.22 Mb

Oliver Postgate was an English animator, puppeteer and writer. He was the creator and writer of some of Britains most popular childrens television programmes. Pingwings, Pogles Wood, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Clangers and Bagpuss, were all made by Smallfilms, the company he set up with Peter Firmin, and were shown on the BBC between the 1950s and the 1980s, and on ITV from 1959 to the present day. In a 1999 poll, Bagpuss was voted the most popular childrens television programme of all time.In 1957 he was appointed a stage manager with Associated-Rediffusion, which then held the ITV franchise for London.

Attached to the childrens programming section, he thought he could do better with the relatively low budgets of the then black and white television productions. Postgate wrote Alexander the Mouse, a story about a mouse born to be king. Using an Irish-produced magnetic system – on which animated characters were attached to a painted background, and then photographed through a 45 degree mirror – he persuaded Peter Firmin, who was then teaching at the Central School of Art, to create the background scenes.

Postgate later recalled they undertook around 26 of these programmes live-to-air, which were made harder by the production problems encountered by the use and restrictions of using magnets.After the success of Alexander the Mouse, Postgate agreed a deal to make the next series on film, for a budget of £175 per programme. Making a stop motion animation table in his bedroom, he wrote the Chinese story The Journey of Master Ho. Setting up their business in a disused cowshed at Firmins home in Blean near Canterbury, Kent, Postgate and Firmin worked on childrens animation programmes.

Based on concepts which mostly originated with Postgate, Firmin did the artwork and built the models, while Postgate wrote the scripts, did the stop motion filming and many of the voices.They started in 1959 with Ivor the Engine, a series for ITV about a Welsh steam locomotive who wanted to sing in a choir. It was remade in colour for the BBC in 1976 and 1977. This was followed by Noggin the Nog for the BBC, which established Smallfilms as a reliable source to produce childrens entertainment, when there were only two television channels in the UK.

The Clangers and Bagpuss, perhaps their most popular works, followed in the early 1970s.In the 1970s and 1980s Postgate was active in the anti-nuclear campaign, addressing meetings and writing several pamphlets including The Writing on the Sky. In 1986, in collaboration with the historian Naomi Linnell, Postgate painted a 50-foot-long (15 m) Illumination of the Life and Death of Thomas Becket for a book of the same name, which is now in the archive of the Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury. In 1990 he painted a similar work on Christopher Columbus for a book entitled The Triumphant Failure.

A Canterbury Chronicle, a triptych by Postgate commissioned in 1990 hangs in the Great Hall of Eliot College on the University of Kents Canterbury campus.In his later years, he blogged for the New Statesman. Postgates voice was heard once more in 2003, as narrator for Alchemists of Sound, a television documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. In 1987 the University of Kent at Canterbury awarded an honorary degree to Postgate, who stated that the degree was really intended for Bagpuss, who was subsequently displayed in academic dress.After his death there was huge recognition of his influence and effect on British culture, and affection for the role his work had played in many peoples lives.

His work was widely discussed in the UK media and many tributes were paid to him and his work across the internet. Charlie Brooker dedicated a portion of his Screenwipe show to Oliver Postgate, and the way he influenced his own childhood, on an episode that was to be broadcast the day after Postgates death.

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