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Cult | News | 05 April 2005

Ivor the Engine

Review: The little engine from Wales on DVD.

Ah, Merioneth and Llantisilly, those evocative names of my childhood, with their misty hills and gentle dales. I spent hours driving my parents mad demanding to be taken there. Being scousers, we were hereditarily barred from North Wales anyway, but the fact the place didn't exist either made it even harder for them.

As a child, I particularly loved Ivor the Engine because it had dragons in it. My brother and I watched each episode in rapt anticipation, waiting for any sight of Idris, Olwen or their dragon children. If they failed to appear, sadness struck at the Kelly household. Watching again for this review, the dragons were still superb - though I really hadn't remembered them as anywhere near so camp.

What I hadn't reckoned on was how characterful the series was. Of all the Smallfilms series, Ivor is perhaps the one that's most wasted on children. The plots may be somewhat simplistic, but it chugged along at a pleasantly sedate pace, and the dialogue was excellent. Sensible railwaymen, flamboyant circus-owners, behatted mad old ladies were all beautifully observed and acted.

As a tot, these treats of writing went right over my head, of course. At that age, you only care about adults if they're your parents, or are carrying chocolate biscuits.

Lovely, just lovely. As heartwarming as an animated Last of the Summer Wine, only shorter, flatter, better written and with genuinely funny characters.

Ivor the Engine came out on Monday as part of UCA's Children's Classics series.

Send us your comment now. We'll publish the best on this page.

Tony Clark
Anji, I too have the tape of black and white episodes, but the DVD should contain all 40 colour episodes. For the moment it has been withdrawn, odviously Universal have been made aware of their mistake.

I can see on the cover shown above that it says all COLOUR episodes ever made... I have a video - bought a few years back - of the black and white ohes which tell HOW Ivor got his whistle...that would account for the missing ones..... I wonder why the powers that be assume that we only ever want colour...I need to replace my video as my autistic son has practically worn it out...

stephen doran
yes i liked the series i even watched the 80s reruns on bbc2.

Puffs of steam that looked like cotton wool - was it cotton wool? Brilliant theme tune you could practice your trumpet impressions to. We were so lucky we children of the 70s seeing all of this the first time around So many wonderfull programmes all most of which are Oliver Postgate creations Trying to find information about a programme called The Dolls House which used to be shown on BBC Im sure it was a smallfilm production by Oliver Postgate One of the characters was called Mr Plantagenat (pardon spelling if wrong) and the fairy in it wasnt very nice. Ring any bells??

i loved the show, i`m very nostalgic and even as a youngster i longed for times past. It has all the people we`re ever going to meet .

Tony Clark
There are 13 episodes missing from this disc. Odd, since Universal themselves released the episodes on Video tape and it had the running time as given on the cover of the DVD. It is clear too, that the DVD has been prepared from the same master tape as the Video tape, so where have the 13 episodes gone?

I am baffled by this DVD ... why does it claim to be the complete collection and last for over 3 hours?? There are masses of episodes missing and my son is not amused!

Ivor used to be on the tv on a Wednesday evening. I could just about watch the whole thing before having to rush out to chapel, and scrap it there on time. Even now, it still brings out the memories!

The bane of my life...Condemned to being called Ivor the engine for my entire primary school life!

All smallfilms productions were wonderful and I eternally thank my parents for showing them to me through the power of video. But Ivor the Engine was always my favorite as it was wonderful to see a cartoon set in my ancestral homeland of Wales. It has left me with a love of trains and close harmony singing. If only they would show these classics nowadays!

A treat for us kidults, I love every memory.

Beware the advertising! Despite what the packaging claims, the DVD does not contain all the episodes made. There should be forty, but there are only 16 on the DVD (some are omnibus versions). The DVD claims to run for over three hours, but only runs to just over two hours. Very disappointing!



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