Original Postman Pat sets and props are going on display in Manchester
Postman Pat and his black and white cat have been a staple of children’s TV for four decades, and the milestone is being marked with a special show in Manchester.
Original sets and props from the much-loved children’s television programme are going on display at Waterside in Sale.
The exhibition opens on Saturday (20 November) and runs until January.
The show promises to be a nostalgic treat for people who spent their childhood gripped to the stories of Postman Pat and Jess picking all the post up in their van.
What is the exhibition and why is it taking place?
The exhibition is being held to mark the 40th anniversary of Postman Pat first being shown on British screens.
Waterside has been asked to display and archive all of the remaining original and handmade sets.
Pat’s cottage, the school, the lighthouse, and the Pencaster Square, complete with original props, will be exhibited at the Sale venue’s Lauriston Gallery to showcase and preserve the skill, beauty and craft behind this much-loved TV show and its equally-popular characters.
The exhibition, which is called Welcome to Greendale, has been made possible thanks to the support of Dreamworks, NBC Universal and the acclaimed Altrincham-based animation studio Mackinnon and Saunders.
They form three of the major companies behind the creation and development of Pat, Jess, Mrs Goggins and all of Greendale’s much-loved inhabitants over the years.
The venue in Trafford is also the home of the Cosgrove Hall Film Archive.
The making of a children’s TV classic
Postman Pat, set in the heart of the Lake District, was first commissioned by the BBC in 1979.
The stop-motion animation series was written by John Cuncliffe and voiced by Ken Barrie.
The first 13 episodes aired on the BBC in 1981, brought to life by the prolific director of animation Ivor Wood who also worked on The Herbs and The Wombles.
In 2003, Entertainment Rights and Cosgrove Hall Films teamed up to develop Postman Pat: Special Delivery.
This stop motion series, based on Ivor Wood’s original, reused parts of his sets but also expanded on Pat’s world to include the town of Pencaster, combining the timeless quality of the show while subtly making it a bit more contemporary.
Cosgrove Hall Films introduced the lip-synch dialogue, seasons and an abundance of vehicles for Pat to drive back and forth from the sorting office, Greendale and Pencaster.
After five years in production, Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service first aired on the BBC in 2008 and Classic Media, Dreamworks and Mackinnon and Saunders took over the production of it between 2013 and 2017, when the final new episode aired.
What has been said about the new exhibition?
Joint CEO of Mackinnon and Saunders, Peter Saunders said: “It is 40 years since Postman Pat appeared on the BBC. Originally created and produced by Ivor Wood, the two most recent TV series were produced by Mackinnon and Saunders in their Altrincham studios.
“After production was completed, the beautiful miniature sets and props were carefully packed and moved to a storage facility in Stalybridge, but the iconic village of Greendale was served notice this year.
“No longer required for filming, all the models were to be destroyed unless a new home could be found for them.
“When Mackinnon and Saunders became aware of the perilous situation, I contacted the Cosgrove Hall Films Archive at Waterside to ask whether their animation archive could come to Greendale’s rescue.
“The teams at Waterside and Trafford Council immediately offered to help and, thanks to their hard work and dedication, many of the models featured in this uniquely British piece of popular culture have been saved for future generations to enjoy.”
Richard Evans, Creative Industries Trafford co-ordinator, said: “We were so thrilled when, back in the spring of this year, we were contacted by Peter at Mackinnon and Saunders asking if we could possibly accommodate these stunning sets from Postman Pat.
“Peter and a number of his team had worked on the show when it was redeveloped by Cosgrove Hall Films. As we already had some puppets from the show in the archive and the sets were due to be destroyed as they could no longer be stored at Take 1 Studios in Stalybridge we just jumped at the chance to be the new custodians.
“Following a meeting with rights’ holders for Postman Pat, Dreamworks and NBC Universal, where we explained our approach at the archive towards celebrating Cosgrove Hall’s legacy, both companies were equally happy to donate the sets and props to our archive.
“Knowing how much loved this television series was and still is, and how beautifully preserved many of these sets have been, we have created this exhibition especially to share these rarely seen sets, puppets and props with the shows’ fans – both big and small.”
How can I see the exhibition?
Postman Pat: Welcome to Greendale opens at Waterside on Saturday 20 November and runs until Saturday 8 January 2022.
Entry is free.