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British TV series
Ivor The Engine

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Ivor the Engine
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producers: SmallFilms
    animation: cut-out animation

    1959 / 6 x 10mins / b/w / for Assoc. Redifusion
    1962-1964 / 26 x 10mins / b/w / for Assoc. Redifusion
    1975 / 40 x 5mins / col / for The BBC

    2004 / promotional ads for BBC2 Wales


    "Not very long ago, in the top left-hand corner
     of Wales, there was a railway..."

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    Ivor was a handsome green locomotive operated by Jones the Steam and run
    along the Merioneth and Llantisilly railway in Wales. Jones and Ivor were friends
    with Dai Station, Owen the Signal, Mr Pugh, Mrs Thomas, Mrs Porty,
    Mr Dinwiddy the gold-miner, Bluebell the Donkey and Jones the Song who
    was choir-master to the Grumbly and District Choral Society of which Ivor
    was a very welcome member, singing first bass.

    Ivor's work took him to Llaniog, Tan-y-Gwlch, Llanmad, and Tewyn Beach. He
    was regularly taken to Grumbly Town and Grumbly Gasworks, and just the
    other side of the works was the extinct volcano of Smoke Hill. That was were
    Ivor and Jones first discovered The Egg. And from the egg came forth Idris the
    Welsh Dragon, a red-hot fellow who made his home in Ivor's boiler for a while...

    Ivor The Engine was the very first series to be produced by SmallFilms, the
    animation company operated by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. SmallFilms
    were rich with ideas and creative skills, and Ivor's welsh world was perfectly
    realised. In his fascinating autobiography "Seeing Things" (Panmacillan) Oliver
    describes the creative processes he went through to bring Ivor's world to our tv .
    screens. ITV commissioned the series after they viewed SmallFilms' two minute
    test reel. There was no soundtrack, so Oliver pefrormed the whistles, clangs and
    "pss-t-koffs" live in accompaniement to the visuals. With the commission
    looming Oliver had been concerned about his ability to create all of the
    necessary characters, scenarios and scripts but in the end, everything
    seemed to come together quite naturally:

    "Fortunately, now that I had the pictures in my head, the people,
    Jones the Steam, Owen the Signal, Dai Station, simply turned up
    for work. I didn't have to invent them, they came off my pen as if
    they had been there all along, waiting to be called..."

   The first Ivor series was shot in black and white. However, 16 years later,
   after the completion of Bagpuss Monica Simms at the BBC encouraged
   Oliver and Peter to remake the Ivor stories in colour, together with any other
   new tales they could muster up. The rights were duly tracked down to
   Rediffusion Holdings who, it seems, gave them back to the SmallFilms
   partnership with ne'er a concern and the new adventures could be born.

   Ivor The Engine's adventures continued in book form too. Numerous stories
   have been published and reprinted through the years by Abelard Schuman,
   Picture lions and Diamond Books. All are written by Oliver Postgate and
   beautifully illustrated by Peter Firmin.

   In 1979, incredibly, an Ivor book "'The Elephant" actually fell foul of Brent
   Council's intolerance of racial discrimination. They apparently objected to
   the depiction of Indian Elephant-Keeper Bani Moukerjee, whom Oliver
   refers to as:

    "...a delightful loving man, who spoke with an accent
     one might call 'Bombay Welsh..."

   2004 saw Ivor returning to his Welsh roots, when he starred in a series of
   promotional adverts for BBC2 Wales. These were written and narrated by
   Oliver, and featured Peter's artwork once more. Although they were brought
   to life through the magic of computer software, you could hardly see the join...

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      M & L R T C Ltd?  M & L R T C LTD?

     "And in a shed, in a siding at the end of the railway, lived the
     Locomotive of the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company
     Limited, which was a long name for a little engine so his friends
     just called him Ivor..."

                                                                                               - Ivor The Engine: The First Story


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     Recent promos/tie-ins

    "Tea With Ivor"  "On the Railway"

    Ivor the Engine prints
     London's Animation Art Gallery are currently offering us two
     chuffingly-good limited edition gicleé prints. Each piece measures
     22" x 19" and is restricted to just 100 editions. What's more,
     they're signed by the one and only Peter Firmin...

     "Tea With Ivor" featurs Ivor in his shed, with Jones the Steam and
     Dai Station. Meanwhile, "On the Railway" depicts Ivor out on his

     How good are these? Well, The Hound has a copy of the latter
     hanging proudly in his living room!...

    Ivor the Engine - Buy yours now from Boojog Collectables...
  Ivor The Engine & The Signal Box

    Robert Harrop figures

     In Spring 2007 Robert Harrop Designs produced their first fully-fledged
     3D figure of Ivor, with Jones the Steam and Idris on board. It was
     restricted to just 600 editions, and needless to say, it's now
     sold out in many shops...

     In 2008, wee had something different. It was a box set featuring
     Ivor and the Signal Box, in a 2D cut-out perspective, and restricted
     to just 600 editions. It brought to life the exact same image as that
     "On the Railway" print, identified earlier...

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     Ivor the Engine on DVD

     UK DVD
The Complete Ivor the Engine
                Region 2 / 4 Front / April 2005

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     Films by SmallFilms 

     story:       Oliver Postgate
     pictures:   Peter Firmin
     music:      Vernon Elliott
     told by:     Olwen Griffiths  
                    Anthony Jackson
                    & Oliver Postgate

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    On the web

     The official site. Clean, clear graphics and interface lead you to a page
     on the characters, episode listing, several WAVs, and info on the
     associated books, games and videos. Best of all is the detailing of
     Ivor's creation, via Oliver Postgate's friendship with a chap called Denzil...

Double: Take 
     Double: Take hold the rights to the 40 colour episodes, and this
     here page features 3 fine pics and an ickle intro to peruse...

     Whirligig's nostalgia page is suitably 'retro' in design, with 2 familiar
     pics and a theme WAV...

      index »    previous »   next »     

© Oliver Postgate & peter Firmin / SmallFilms / F2010