Coming to blu-ray and DVD just in time for Christmas … Ivor the Engine: the Colour Series was Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin’s ‘reboot’ of their original black and white children’s series. This time Ivor’s adventures, some from the black and white 60’s series, and some brand new, were made in full colour.
These forty, 5-minute stories, originally hit our screens between 1976-1977, and were regularly shown on the BBC until the 1980s. They have now been fully restored and will be available to buy on DVD and blu-ray from the end of October.
Previous releases on DVD had some linked episodes edited together, with the relevant closing and opening titles and credits removed. This release has restored the episodes to their individual five minute shows, as they were originally broadcast.
Olwen Griffiths (Torchy, The Battery Boy) reprises her role as Mrs Porty with the addition of Anthony Jackson (Rentaghost) who came onboard to voice Dai Station, Evans the Song, and Mr Dinwiddy. And, of course, the series is all wrapped up with the beautifully haunting bassoon music of Vernon Elliott.
The result is TV heaven — and, while the stop-motion isn’t Aardman standard, it’s still charmingly quirky.
Although Bagpuss and The Clangers are probably Smallfilms’ most famous productions, Ivor the Engine was its first. The series was inspired by the poetry of Dylan Thomas and an engine-driver friend of Postgate’s who talked about engines coming to life when you spent enough time with them. And, you know what? It’s still wonderfully watchable.
In 2005, when Postgate was asked why his shows retained their appeal, he said “… were excused the interference of educationalists, sociologists, and other pseudo-scientists, who get at things nowadays, which produces, eventually, a confection of formulae [that has] no integrity. No, the mainspring of what we did was because it was fun”.
In 2007 Postgate and Firmin were jointly presented with the Action for Children’s Arts JM Barrie Award “for a lifetime’s achievement in delighting children” and Ivor is all part of that delight.
BAFTA Children’s Award: Celebrating Smallfilms, The Story of Smallfilms.