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Background - Synopses - Credits - Videos



The first set of six ten-minute films, in which Ivor gets his new pipes and joins the choir were made in 1959 for Associated-Redifusion Ltd.   They were in black and white.
These were followed by two sets of thirteen films, also in black and white for Associated-Redifusion.  These concern various other incidents, like the arrival of dragons and an elephant, and complications that arise therefrom.

These black and white films were shown regularly by Associated-Redifusion until that company's demise in 1968.

In 1975, Smallfilms were very kindly given back the rights to the stories, and remade the original films, with some new ones, as a set of 40 five minute films in colour.
These were shown regularly by the BBC as part of their advertised programmes (and occasionally irregularly when it rained at Wimbledon during the tennis tournament) until the mid-1980's.

The films were made in cut-out card animation which is a laborious procedure in which figures cut from painted cardboard are jointed together with Blutack, laid on a background and moved, in increments of 1/25ths of a second, under a single-frame camera driven by a motor, some pieces of meccano and a rubber drive band.
To clarify, one five minute Ivor film would require approximately 8000 single frames of film.

There was always the risk of getting something else in shot, as this picture demonstrates (thanks to Gareth for the screen grab)





1. The Railway
Nothing out of the ordinary even happens on this little railway in the top left-hand corner of Wales.  But what ordinarily happens is often fairly extraordinary!

2. The Egg
Who lays eggs in a Volcano?  Somebody does and Jones and Ivor take the gold-miner's advice and keep it warm - until they hear it sing!

3. The Proper Container
What is the proper container for red-hot livestock?  The Regulations are quite definite but definitely inflammable.  So another, more suitable conveyance must be found.

4. The Alarm
Some creatures are real and some are mythical, even if they are good at frying fish, and they want to stay mythical.

5. The Retreat
If you want to hide, perhaps the best thing is to pretend you were never there in the first place - even if it does make your friend look a bit of a fool.

6. The Hat
Mrs Porty does wear some unusual hats but she wouldn't expect to be arrested for wearing one of them - certainly not in front of the Church Ladies Guild!

7. Old Nell
It's a hard life being a sheep dog, especially when the silly sheep and the engine driver need to be rescued.  Sometimes railway engines are more sensible than people.

8. Mr Brangwyn's Pigeons
Ivor the Engine, when he sings, could charm the very birds off the trees - or at least the pigeons off Miss Price's roof.

9. The Visitor
Visitors are always welcome.  Even wounded visitors weighing several tons can be accomodated by Mr Hughes the Gasworks.

10. The Invalid
Nobody likes to take medicine, but some patients are so unhelpful that even the most patient nurse loses patience and gets the boot.

11. The Boot
We can all be recognised by the sort of clothes we wear, but this invalid is rescued by her boot and everybody is happy at last.

12. Banger's Circus
If you are far from home it is a great joy if home comes to find you.  And what a show it puts on when it does!

13. Unidentified Objects
Are these strange apparitions flying saucers or just the bubbles of a goldminer's boredom - and what's the use of gold anyway?

14. Mrs Porty's Foxes
Some wear fancy hats in order to look beautiful.  Some wear them to save their friends - but what else should an engine-driver do?

15. Bluebell
A good donkey will always do what she is told, even though she has to run a long way to do it.  Luckily there are wheels for the return journey.

16. Dai and the Donkey
The dividing line between being a nuisance and being useful depends on what sort of disaster is waiting for a small engine.

17. Gold
What is the point in having a bit of gold put by if you can't spend a bit to help your friends when they are in trouble.

18. Mrs Porty
Perhaps gold will not do to buy the railway, but Mrs Porty is not going to stand by and let her donkey lose a dear friend.

19. Cold
Volcanoes are not really things that people need, but for some they are home from home - if they can find one.

20. The Endowment
If you can't find a desirable volcano, then you must seek the help of a learned society which has a lot of half-crowns.

21. Snowdrifts
When the snow is deep and Mrs Williams runs out of jelly-babies, it is time to invent something to move the snow out of the way.

22. Cold Sheep
Some snowdrifts are just snow, but some have more than snow in them, and they must not be ploughed aside, even for the sake of the General's new teeth.

23. The Fire Engine
Some fire engines will go absolutely anywhere, so long as they don't get stuck.  Then they must not be too proud to ask for help.

24. Sledging
Pulling sledges up the hill can be quite fun, if you are strong enough, but it can be even more fun sledging down the hill again - if you have a sledge.

25. The Rescue
When all the latest technical equipment cannot pull you out of trouble, perhaps it is time to get help from more old-fashioned pushers and pullers.

26. The Water Tower
Some engines are very particular about what they will or will not be willing to drink, for the sake of who or what happens to be in the drink.

27. Mrs Bird
We must always do what we can to help others, even if they do chose to build their houses in such extraordinarily silly places.

28. The Cuckoo-clock
It doesn't tell the time any more, it doesn't sing anymore.  It is no use at all, except to a homelessbird and her family.

29. The Trumpet
Some trumpets sound very low indeed, but some sound so loud that only mythical creatures can hear them, and they will come to your aid.

30. Time Off
What is life if full of case we have no time to be with our friends and do nothing at all.   We don't all have to be busy all the time.

31. The Seaside
Everybody loves to go to the seaside and have fun splashing about in the surf, but some of us aren't able to - and that is a bit sad.

32. The Lost Engine
Engines don't always do what you would expect them to do, but luckily they are very rarely stolen by gangsters.

33. The Outing
Even the most difficult feats of engineering can be achieved, especially if they will help a friend to join in the fun, and also get very wet.

34. Half-Crowns
The money may no longer buy things in the shops, but people who know where to find it can help to keep the dragons warm.

35. Sheep Herding
Who said only dogs can herd sheep?  Everybody should be allowed to have a try and it doesn't matter a bit how heavy they are.

36. Juggernaut
When Ivor leaves to seek his fame and fortune, who or what can take his place?  Is it worth a load of gold just for the pleasure of seing it go?

37. The Bird House
Ivor has earned a small fortune, but even though he knows what he wants to buy with it, can he persuade them to take the money?

38. Chickens
Keeping lots of friends warm on his boiler may help to keep his friends warm, but it makes him a bit grubby.  But there are some advantages in it.

39. St. George
Very small dragons do sometimes make mistakes when they meet an old enemy, especially if they don't notice what he is made of.

40. Retirement
There are places where a dragon could possibly live, but wouldn't want to, and there are places which, with a little help, will do very nicely, thankyou.




All the pictures and characters in the films were drawn and painted by Peter Firmin.

The stories were written and told by Oliver Postgate and the parts played by Oliver Postgate, Anthony Jackson and Olwen Griffiths.

The music was especially composed for the series by Vernon Elliott, and played by the Vernon Elliott Ensemble.

The films were made by Oliver Postgate, working in an enlarged pig-sty on Peter's farm near Canterbury.




Episodes of Ivor the Engine were included in two videos published by the BBC in the early 1980's

V4011 BBC Children's Favourites
V4111 Beebtots

Then two more videos were made:
V4033 Ivor and the Dragons
V4014 Ivor and the Elephant

And much later, in 1991, the BBC published:
V4652 Ivor: The first story, whcich contained some of the original 1959 black and white episodes

Only Ivor and the Elephant is still available, containing 13 episodes, edited together, this is the order:

8. Mr Brangwyn's Pigeons
9. The Visitor
10. The Invalid
11. The Boot
12. Banger's Circus
35. Sheep Herding
36. Juggernaut
37. The Bird House
15. Bluebell
16. Dai and the Donkey
30. Time Off
24. Sledging
25. The Rescue