“Andy Pandy’s coming to play, la-la-la-la-la-la!” Devised by Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird, Andy Pandy was first screened live in summer 1950 during the BBC’s For the Very Young slot. Subsequent episodes were filmed to enable repeat broadcasts and became central to the Watch with Mother segment from 1953.
Developed for ITV by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, Ivor the Engine told the story of small steam train working on a remote line in the “top left-hand corner of Wales”. Narrated by Postgate, in his best Under Milk Wood voice, the show used charmingly rudimentary techniques to animate illustrations of Ivor and driver Jones the Steam. While Ivor would perambulate along the rails making a pleasing “pssh-te-cuff” sound, Vernon Elliott, a classical bassoonist, provided the accompanying music.
In the early 1960s, French animator Serge Danot created an innovative stop-motion series, Le Manège Enchanté. Ivor Wood joined Danot to work on the original episodes. Set in a magical park, it featured a dog named Pollux and his friends. First broadcast in 1964, the unique programme soon caught the attention of TV executives in the UK.
Created by Elisabeth Beresford for a series of novels in 1968, the Wombles are conical-faced creatures that live in a burrow under Wimbledon Common and spend their days collecting and recycling rubbish. They arrived on our screens in a series of 60 short instalments first airing in 1973. Using stop-motion models directed by Ivor Wood and the perky narration of Bernard Cribbins, the show introduced us to, among others, the exotic Madame Cholet and wise old Great Uncle Bulgaria.
Another unique creation from Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, Bagpuss was a pink, striped, “saggy old cloth cat” who first appeared in 1974. The series was set in a lost-and-found shop where Bagpuss would come to life on delivery of a discarded, broken item from young girl Emily. He and his friends – including six mice, banjo-playing toad Gabriel, rag doll Madeleine and woodpecker bookend Professor Yaffle – would then weave songs and stories around the object while it was repaired. With the restored item placed in the shop window for its owner to collect, Bagpuss would give a contented yawn and settle back down to sleep.
Ivor Wood collaborated with writer John Cunliffe to bring Postman Pat to our screens in 1981. As he worked his route in bucolic Greendale, each stopmotion episode would see the Postman become distracted by the plight of one of the locals, who included farmer Alf Thompson, handyman Ted Glen and postmistress Mrs Goggins. Originally narrated by Ken Barrie, Lewis MacLeod more recently took over as the voice of Pat, whose route now includes the bustling town of Pencaster.
Can he fix it? Yes, he can! Making his debut in 1998, Bob the Builder was the brainchild of former Muppets designer Keith Chapman. As the world’s favourite builder, Bob’s ability to take on any project promotes a can-do attitude of positivity and the benefits of working together, as sung in his chart-topping theme tune. Voiced by Neil Morrissey, Bob is ably assisted by his ‘Can-Do Crew’ of Scoop, Muck, Dizzy, Roley and Lofty, as well as his business partner Wendy.
Peppa is a lovable, cheeky little piggy who lives with her little brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Peppa’s favourite things include playing games, dressing up, days out and, most of all, jumping in muddy puddles. After Lily Snowden-Fine and Cecily Bloom, Harley Bird was the third person to provide Peppa’s vocals, and in 2011 she won Best Performer at the BAFTA Children’s Awards. The show sees its 10-year anniversary in 2014 and Peppa will be wearing her golden boots to celebrate.
First appearing in the Oscar-winning 1995 Wallace and Gromit film A Close Shave, Shaun the Sheep graduated to his own TV series in 2007. Shaun is a sheep who doesn’t follow the flock – in fact, he leads them into all sorts of scrapes and scraps, turning peace at Mossybottom Farm into mayhem in the meadow. Shaun and his pals run rings around their poor sheepdog Bitzer, as he does his best to stop the Farmer from finding out what’s going on behind his back.