US Stamps

British stamps highlight children's television

Dec 20, 2013, 3 AM

Great Britain’s Royal Mail will issue 12 self-adhesive stamps Jan. 7 honoring classic children’s television.

This is Royal Mail’s second set of stamps devoted to children’s television. The first was released Sept. 3, 1996, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Muffin the Mule (Scott 1698-1702).

The oldest television series represented on the upcoming Classic Children’s TV stamps is Andy Pandy. It debuted in 1950 as part of the For the Children program, later called Watch with Mother. The newest series, Shaun the Sheep, debuted in 2009. All of the decades in between also are represented.

The 12 stamps are nondenominated. The “1st” inscription on each stamp indicates that it pays the first-class rate, currently 60 pence.

The stamps also are cut to shape around the television characters they portray.

Starting chronologically, the first stamp shows Andy Pandy, a marionette, and his friend Teddy, a teddy bear, in the picnic basket that also is their home. This is the only stamp in the set shown in black-and-white.

The next stamp features the animated series Ivor the Engine, which dates back to 1959. Ivor, a steam engine on a remote railway in the “top left-hand corner of Wales” is shown in green on the stamp. The engineer, Jones the Steam, is wearing a blue and white cap.

Ivor the Engine originally was created in black-and-white, but those episodes were lost until 2010 when they were discovered in a pig shed.

A Daily Mail story from 2010 said, “It is believed creator Oliver Postgate stashed the films on the farm of business partner Peter Firmin, in Blean, near Canterbury, Kent.”

The next stamp pictures the shaggy dog Dougal from The Magic Roundabout, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The show originated in France as Le Manege Enchante. Serge Danot created this stop-animation series. The prolific British animator Ivor Wood worked on this series, as well as on several of the other series featured on the stamps.

Royal Mail reports that The Magic Roundabout had an impact on the nation’s economy in the 1960s because adults left work early to watch the latest episode.

The decade of the 1960s also is represented by Camberwick Green, which first aired in 1966.

The stamp shows Windy Miller, the miller of the fictitious rural community of Camberwick Green, Trumptonshire, waving.

Mr. Benn of Festive Road, wearing his trademark bowler hat and suit, is seen waving on the next design. Mr. Benn was introduced in the 1967 children’s book Mr. Benn – Red Knight by David McKee, and came to television in 1971.

Similarly, The Wombles began as a series of children’s books by Elisabeth Beresford in 1968 about conical-faced creatures that live in a burrow under Wimbledon Common. The Wombles were transformed into a television series in 1973.

The stamp shows Great Uncle Bulgaria. He is described in the first book, The Wombles: “The head of the Wimbledon Wombles is Great Uncle Bulgaria. He is very old indeed and his fur has turned snow-white and he feels the cold rather badly. So during the winter months he mostly sits in his own room in a large rocking chair, wearing a tartan shawl and two pairs of spectacles. He uses one pair for reading The Times newspaper and the other for looking at young Wombles who have misbehaved...”

The children’s television series Bagpuss began 40 years ago, in 1974. The pink-striped title character, “an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams,” is featured on the stamp. Bagpuss lived in a lost-and-found shop.

Paddington Bear makes a return appearance on British stamps, although the previous stamps featured the book — not the televised — version of this popular bear.

Paddington Bear is shown writing a letter at Paddington Station on a nondenominated first-class Greeting stamp issued Feb. 1, 1994 (Scott 1547). He was honored again on a first-class stamp in the 2006 Children’s Book series (2337).

Michael Bond wrote more than 20 Paddington Bear books, the first of which was published in 1958. The television series started 17 years later, in 1975.

Postman Pat and his black-and-white cat Jess are pictured together on a stamp in the Classic Children’s TV set. The two also were featured in a 1994 set of stamps from the Isle of Man (Scott 608-14).

When the Postman Pat animated series began in 1981, the title character Pat Clifton delivered letters in Glendale. After he was promoted to the head of the special delivery services, the town of Pencaster was added to his route.

Bob the Builder and his Can-Do Crew were introduced to children in Great Britain in 1998. The show was created by Keith Chapman, a former Muppets designer. In 2001, Bob the Builder began airing in the United States as well. Today, the show is broadcast in 45 languages in 240 territories.

The remaining two Classic Children’s TV stamps honor 21st-century series, Peppa Pig and Shaunthe Sheep.

Four-year-old Peppa Pig and her family are featured in five-minute episodes, the first of which aired May 31, 2004. In addition to watching Peppa on television, children in Great Britain can visit Peppa Pig World, part of the Paultons Family Theme Park in Hampshire.

Shaun the Sheep made his film debut in 1995 in Wallace and Gromit’s A Close Shave. Fourteen years later, Shaun got his own television show.

In announcing the program, the BBC press office said: “The series will follow the adventures of Shaun and the rest of his flock as they join in his latest madcap schemes, from synchronised swimming in the sheep-dip to disguising themselves in the scarecrow’s clothes.”

Other Wallace and Gromit characters were featured on Great Britain’s 2010 Christmas stamps (Scott 2849-56).

The London design firm Interabang designed the Classic Children’s TV stamps, using copyrighted images from a variety of sources.

International Security Printers produced them by gravure in sheets of 60. The stamps measure 25 millimeters by 25mm.

Other products to be offered in conjunction with the Classic Children’s TV stamps include first-day covers, a set of 12 postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps, and a presentation pack including the stamps and text by Graham Kibble-White.

For ordering information, contact Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland. The website is

Royal Mail’s two agencies in the United States are Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557; and the British Stamp Service in North America, 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008.