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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 April, 2004, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Ivor the Engine steams back
Ivor the Engine
Ivor the Engine first graced TV screens in 1959
One of Wales' best loved TV characters - Ivor the Engine - is steaming back to Welsh television screens.

Ivor was a children's favourite through the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and even voted one of Wales' top 100 heroes in an official poll last year.

Now the engine is being brought up to date with computer animation to promote the BBC Wales digital channel 2W.

His original creators have even climbed aboard to help create three new short films.

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin, who are the Kent-based creative team behind other children's' favourites including Bagpuss, Noggin the Nog and The Clangers, are bringing Ivor back to TV.

The last new Ivor programmes were made almost 30 years ago when the original black-and-white animations, some dating back to 1959 when the TV series was first launched, were remade in colour for the BBC.

Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin
Ivor's creators have been happy to collaborate on the 2004 version

Now Ivor's adventures with Idris the Dragon and Dai Station are set to entertain, albeit briefly, a new generation.

BBC Wales' Head of Promotions, Phillip Moss, said Mr Postgate is delighted Ivor has been brought out of retirement in the railway shed.

"He has voiced the new films, and we were able to track down Anthony Jackson, the original voice of Dai Station, to replay his part," said Mr Moss.

"The next stage is to use a bassoon player from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to be Ivor's 'voice'."

Though Peter Firmin's original animation used what Mr Moss described as "Meccano and elastic bands", the new versions, using the designer's illustrations, will be animated by computer.

The three new promos - the longest lasts just 40 seconds - which will be screened by BBC Wales next month.

In the three cartoons, Dai Station - a stickler for the rule book - is caught out watching BBC 2W when he should not be; Ivor himself refuses to move further along the tracks when he is captivated by 2W in a TV shop, and there is trouble in the signal box when the signalman is glued to his TV set - tuned to 2W.

Last year Ivor the Engine was voted number 18 in the first stage of a poll to find the top 100 Welsh Heroes sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Ironically, Mr Postgate has no connection with Wales and the only Welsh person involved in the original animations - Olwen Griffiths who was the voice of Idris the Dragon and the series' women - has since died.




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