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Legendary French/British Stop-Motion Master Ivor Wood Dies

Ivor Wood, the animator who worked on some of the best-loved children's television programs, including THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT, THE WOMBLES, PADDINGTON and POSTMAN PAT, has died in London, reports THE TIMES. He was 72 years old.

Wood began his career as an animator at French advertising company, La Comète, where he met Serge Danot, the creator of Le Manège Enchanté, which would be best known under its English title THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT. He was the original animator of the series, which told the story of Mr Rusty, who owned a merry-go-round neglected by children until a magical jack-in-the-box, Zebedee, cast a spell to bring them back.

Originally, the series was rejected by the BBC because the station felt it would be too difficult to dub into English. However, Danot and Wood sold several episodes to the French television station ORTF in 1964 and followed by selling the series to the BBC, which began airing the series in October 1965. Surprisingly the series garnered as many adult fans as it did kids, brining in eight million viewers at its peak.

Later, Wood began working for FilmFair on THE HERBS. Creator Michael Bond wrote the stories with Wood making the puppets and directing the 39 15-minute films commissioned by the BBC. Wood animated the series at his kitchen table in Paris. The series was first aired in 1968 as part of the WATCH WITH MOTHER show and later spawned the spin-off, THE ADVENTURES OF PARSLEY. Next, Wood directed and produced the puppets for FilmFairs production of author Elisabeth Beresford s THE WOMBLES. In the 1970s, Wood worked on the 2D series Simon in the Land of Chalk and PADDINGTON, which combined stop-motion animation of a Paddington model with animated 2D cardboard cutouts for other characters, within a 3D setting.

After designing puppets for Hattyland Enterprises and FilmFairs HATTYTOWN TALES, Wood set up his own production company, Woodland Animations. There he designed and directed the hugely popular series POSTMAN PAT, which followed Pat, the helpful postman from Greendale and his trusty old black-and-white cat, Jess.

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