Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Ivor the Engine at iTunes

I was browsing the iTunes Store, as you do, only to stumble on 'Ivor the Engine and Pogles Wood' under Staff Favourites. The music to Ivor the Engine doesn't qualify as one of the '1000 pieces of music you should listen to before you die', but it is great fun, especially if you are a bassoonist. I wish I had a quid for every time I've played the theme tune to audiences of school children or all-age congregations. If you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about then I guess that says something about my age. Ivor the Engine was a children's television programme that was shown first in 1959 by Refiffusion as a set of six in black and white, followed by 26 more, four years later. In 1975 they were remade in colour for the Beeb as a set of 40 films. I hasten to add that I didn't see the originals. Apparently they are now showing on Channel 4 and Nickelodeon.

Ivor was a favourite with our boys - we had it on video - although Thomas the Tank Engine, a far more sophisticated production, had the edge. However, therein was the charm of Oliver Postgate, the creator. He was responsible for other programmes Noggin the Nog, Pogles' Wood, Pingwings and Clangers.

The particular interest I have in Ivor, and indeed the other programmes, is on account of the composer, Vernon Elliot, who was the contra-bassoonist in the Philharmonia Orchestra, which then became the New Philharmonia Orchestra. In between playing and teaching, and some conducting, he wrote lovely quirky music for these programmes. The theme for Ivor is very playful, but in keeping with the story-line, as well as the voice that narrates it, the music has an extraordinary melancholy. Apparently it was recorded in a thatched cottage in the Home Counties, probably in November.

If you are a total anorak you can go to a dedicated website at Ivor the Engine, not that I would know. I know someone who visited it.


Graham said...

Now you make me feel old, but as I remember watching it and my children have no idea what it is, perhaps I don't feel that old after all!


Glen Marshall said...

So did the thatch affect the sound then? And wld it have turned out different if it was recorded in July?

Geoff Colmer said...

Probably didn't make a huge amount of difference either way, but it's hardly Abbey Road! However, it is of a piece with the somewhat primitive approach! Good to hear from you.

Seb said...

There is more Ivor the Engine on iTunes these days in the form of Ivor games for iPads and iPhones.

The graphics look just like the TV original. Vernon Elliot's quirky music features too!


I think its great - brings Ivor to a whole new generation