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Western Animation / Postman Pat

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Right to left: Postman Pat and his black and white cat.
"Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat and his black and white cat."

1981 British stop motion series set around the life of postman Pat Clifton and his job as the only local postman for the village of Greendale. He is constantly accompanied by his black and white cat Jess. Fondly remembered by many Brits and considered a essential childhood show. In fact, he's so ingrained into British culture that Royal Mail used him as their official mascot until 2000. Another version of the show was made in 2004 which expanded on the original concept slightly.

2008 has given us a new spin-off Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service an "action packed" version set in the new town of Pencaster with Pat's reliable "PAT 1" red Royal Mail van being replaced by:

  • An "Eco-Van" for large deliveries ("PAT 2")
  • A "Mini Van" for smaller deliveries ("PAT 4"; the same design as PAT 1)
  • A motorbike ("PAT 5")
  • And a Helicopter for tricky deliveries ("PAT 3")

First aired on BBC1 and still considered an essential CBBC show to this day. Episodes can be watched on the official YouTube channel.

An all-CGI movie was released in 2014, set in the same continuity as the Special Delivery Service series. The movie's plot centers around Pat revealing he can sing rather well and auditioning for reality show "You're The One", leading to newfound stardom, but also having to choose between becoming a superstar or sticking with being a postman. Oh, and there's a bizarre subplot about SDS being taken over by Pat-robots.

Tropes in this show include:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Subverted. Beginning with the SDS seasons, all aerial shots are animated in CGI, while everything else remains in the traditional stop-motion.
  • Actor Allusion: In the movie, Wilf (one of the bad guys), who is about to be shot by an evil robot, says "I don't want to go". Guess the voice actor?
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The episode "Postman Pat Has The Best Village" ends with Ted wondering what happened to his lorry, not knowing that his lorry was used as part of a decoration for the best village competition and P.C. Selby and Major Forbes keeping him in the dark about it. The book version, by contrast has Pat and the rest of the villagers fess up to having used the lorry.
  • Adaptation Expansion: John Cunliffe adapted some of the early Pat stories into books, as well as making tons of original stories (Ken Barrie even narrates most of the audiobooks). Due to the British Brevity ongoing with the original seasons, this meant Cunliffe actually wrote far more Pat stories in book form than for the show itself.
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • Harry Enfield made a version titled Il Postino Pat (which, coincidentally, is also the title of the actual Italian dub of the show), which changes the style to that of an Italian opera... and has Pat shot by fascists. Bonus points for having the same awkward walk and jerky movements of the stop motion animation transferred to the live actors.
    • Later Enfield would make another one with Paul Whitehouse, titled Parking Pattaweyo, starring a mild-mannered (or not) African traffic warden named, well, Pattaweyo, played by a young Daniel Kaluuya. ...And his black and white cattaweyo.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Postman Pat's Birthday sees Pat keeping his birthday a secret, up until he finds out that everyone knows about it, but they wouldn't tell him how!
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Pat's copies in the Big Damn Movie.
  • Alliterative Title
  • Art Evolution:
    • From stop-motion models in the early 80s to fully-rendered CGI in 2014. It's kind of running parallel to the likes of Thomas & Friends, Noddy and Fireman Sam. This only applied to The Movie, however, and later-produced episodes of the series returned to the traditional stop-motion format.
    • In terms of the stop-motion, the Woodland-animated episodes had the characters' mouths remain static when they spoke, necessitating the need for a narrator. When Cosgrove Hall took over animation duties after the revival, the character were now animated with properly moving mouths.
  • Big Damn Movie: Postman Pat: The Movie has Pat foiling a plot to Take Over the World with robotic postmen. Yes, really.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Happens in this Specsavers advert.
    • Also played slightly more seriously in the episode Postman Pat in a muddle where his glasses are seemingly broken. As Pat can't see to drive, Ted drives him in his lorry and reads the addresses out for Pat.
  • Butt-Monkey: Will in the movie.
  • British Brevity: Both the original 80s series and the 90s revival only lasted one season of 13 episodes each (though with a few individual specials made in between). Averted with all subsequent revivals, which have brought the series up to over 100 episodes altogether.
  • Call-Back: Throughout Season 1, there would be little references to previous episodes. For example, in "Sheep in the Clover Field", Pat gets out his walking stick he got from Farmer Alf in "Postman Pat's Birthday", and in "Postman Pat's Thirsty Day", he gets a digital watch that Granny Dryden ordered for him from a catalog in "Postman Pat's Tractor Express".
  • Cats Are Mean: Averted, Jess is sometimes mischievous but never mean.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • Pat: "Cheerio!"
    • Sarah Gilbertson often calls out "Mr Pringle, Mr Pringle!" when trying to answer a question or show off her knowledge in class.
    • In Special Delivery Service, Pat gets two: "What's it going to be today?" and "Special Delivery Service, mission accomplished!"
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Or Postman Pat's [Fill the blank]
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Will's allergy to cats and Josh's video game skills are what lead to the defeat of the Big Bad in the movie.
    • In the Special Delivery episode Postman Pat and Cowboy Colin, Pat is gifted an apple by his wife. When his van runs out of petrol and he needs to ride Pumpkin to get to the school, he uses the apple to calm her down.
  • Chickenpox Episode: episode "A Spotty Situation" combines this with Plague Episode in that three quarters of the town's population seem to have caught chicken pox, even the adults. After a girl suggests gargling with saltwater, Pat tells everyone, "Don't forget to gargle," and at the end, their gargling can be heard from the streets.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • A few key supporting characters; Miss Hubbard, Peter Fogg, Granny Dryden, Major Forbes, George Lancaster and Sam Waldron vanished when the series was revived. In the case of Granny Dryden, it can be inferred that she passed away.
    • When the series was retooled as Special Delivery Service, Mr. Pringle and the Pottage family also disappeared, with the former's role as the school teacher being taken by Lauren Taylor.
    • The movie itself went and mixed both sets together, reintroducing the likes of both Miss Hubbard and Major Forbes back into the continuity. Miss Pottage is also mentioned by Mrs. Goggins while she's passing the parcels to Pat during the movie's first part.
  • Church Lady: Miss Hubbard is often seen in the village church, and she rings the church bells to help Pat find his way when he is lost in the fog.
  • Cool Car: His bright red van.
  • Cool Train: The Greendale Rocket, and later on the Pencaster Flyer.
  • Darker and Edgier: The movie. Unlike the TV series, the movie actually had villains.
  • Demoted to Extra: In a sense, the original PAT 1 van in Special Delivery Service. It only really serves as Pat's transportation to the SDS centre every episode rather than as his main delivery transportation overall.
  • Denser and Wackier: The movie tries to alleviate the aforementioned darker story with more cartoony execution than the show is known for, with the characters getting into far more exaggerated slapstick than usual, and a Laughably Evil villain who snarks about the soft hearted premise of the series.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the movie, the Patbots are easily shut down when Josh takes control of them using Carbunkle's phone, which he snagged after Wilf landed on top of him from a cat-induced sneeze and fall.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In the movie, Carbunkle didn't consider that having multiple Patbots operating in the same village might result in someone spotting multiple Pats driving around at the same time.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
    • Postman Pat often hums the theme song.
    • Also done in the Special Delivery Service episode "Postman Pat and the Karaoke Night". The entire cast sings the SDS theme/end credits song at the end.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: For the first 6 episodes, Pat's van bore a generic crown emblem before Royal Mail gave permission to use their logo. Also the entire first series is "voiced" by Ken Barrie on his own, men, women and children alike, although it's mostly done as narration rather than having him really pretend to be lots of people.
  • Easy Impersonation: In the movie, people keep mistaking Patbot for the real Pat despite it being obviously robotic and the real Pat obviously being too busy with his newfound celebrity to do postal work. It takes Ben eavesdropping on the Robotic Reveal Wilf causes and him, Sara and Julian revealing this truth to the townsfolk for them to fully figure out why "Pat" had been behaving strangely.
  • Episode Tagline: The episode "A Spotty Situation", the townspeople get chicken pox one by one and Pat tells them "Don't forget to gargle", repeating what one girl told him earlier. At the end, they all gargle, so loudly that they can be heard from the street.
  • Expository Theme Tune: Yes, for the daily life of a postman.
  • Failures on Ice: Pat tries roller skates in "Pat Takes a Message", and ice skates in "Letters on Ice". He does well on the ice skates, but ends up diving over a fence on the roller skates.
  • Funny Background Event: Jess in the 2004 series and Special Delivery Service often gets up into different things while Pat is doing something else.
  • The Film of the Series: In the form of a 3-D movie starring the likes of David Tennant and Rupert Grint, released in 2014.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Pat is guilty of these, and that's why he was banned in Japan!
  • Happily Married: Pat and Sara; Alf and Dorothy; Ajay and Nisha.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Postman Pat (or just Pat in the 80s episodes) is in almost every title. Save two in the first season.
  • Injured Limb Episode: The climax of one episode focuses on Jess falling down a hole and breaking his leg.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Will and Josh really do look a lot like David Tennant and Rupert Grint.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In Postman Pat Has Too Many Parcels almost everyone in Greendale doesn't realize ordering items from the catalogue Sam Waldron gave out was making things harder for Pat. Notably, Major Forbes 'helps' Pat by taking a parcel that was for him, not seeming to notice Pat had dropped all the other ones he'd be carrying on the ground. Mrs Goggins. Ted Glenn and George Lancaster seemed to be the only people who help Pat out without some backhanded complement.
  • Inspirationally Disabled: Special Delivery Service added a girl in a wheelchair to Pat's son's school class.
  • Job Song:
    • The theme is about Pat's job as a postman.
    • One song is about Ted Glenn's job fixing things.
  • The Kiddie Ride: The infamous post van (PAT 1), originally made by OMC Electronics in 1992, which saw two redesigns when licence was first transferred to Mitchells in 1997, then Fun2Learn in 2007. Amutec has also released two designs of the Special Delivery Service Helicopter (PAT 3) from Postman Pat: SDS in 2008. OMC Electronics also made a ride in June 1994 with a strange and weird design where kids sat on a sack of mail next to Pat and Jess. Notably though, the rides are popular enough in the UK to warrant an appearance (albeit apparently in the form of a generic postie van modified to play the Postman Pat theme tune) in the Mr. Bean episode Mind The Baby, Mr. Bean. They even appeared outside the REAL post offices!
  • Licensed Game: In the late 80s, tonnes of Postman Pat games came out for various popular computer platforms in the UK. They were made by the notorious Alternative Software. The SDS spinoff saw one game for the iPhone/iPod.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Pretty much applies to all the characters in the show, espeially Pat as he's rarely seen out of his uniform. The movie reveals he even wore his uniform at his wedding!
  • Lost Toy Grievance: In "Postman Pat's Finding Day", Katy Pottage is not pleased to receive a doll on her birthday, because she has lost her own doll, Sarah-Ann. Pat finds her in Sam's mobile shop.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Pat appeared in 5 children's compilation tapes that weren't made by The BBC. The first was Postman Pat's Birthday in NSPCC Children's TV Favourites Volume 1 in 1990, then came an excerpt from Postman Pat's ABC in NSPCC Children's TV Favourites Volume 2 (when they should've used an episode from the TV show) in 1993, Postman Pat's Birthday again in My Best Friends, also in 1993, Rainy Day in My Best Friends Too in 1994, and a 1996 episode, Hole in the Road, in Calling all Toddlers in 1999. He most certainly was big for a postman...
  • Medicinal Cuisine: Julian gets sick with what appears to be a very mild cold, since he gets better within a few hours. However, he pretends to still be sick and Pat gives him some ice cream for his sore throat.
  • Minimalist Cast: The entire first series was "voiced" by Ken Barrie alone. The second series added Carole Boyd to do the women and children, before the third series finally got a full voice cast.
  • Mistaken for Thief: In "The Stolen Strawberries", P.C. Selby thinks Jess stole some strawberries but really the birds did.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted. In "The Sheep in the Clover Field", Ted outright says that the clovers will kill the sheep if they eat too much.
  • Nice Guy: Pat is always kind, helpful and polite to everyone.
  • No Antagonist: Most episodes are like this, with inclement weather, lost kites, special events (such as fetes and birthdays) and too-small suits of armour amongst others typically being the things that drive the plot, rather than a conflict between characters. The most you ever see is one of the children learning not to be too competitive, bossy, etc. It's a different matter in The Movie, however...
  • Oop North: Greendale is supposedly in Cumbria, and Pencaster is supposed to be in North Yorkshire.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: Subverted in one episode. When Pat first sees a pizza with pineapple on it, he says, "Pineapple?! On a pizza?!", but he actually enjoys it when he tastes it.
  • Plank Gag: While Pat rollerskates down a road, George walks across with a ladder. Pat hits the ladder and sends him spinning around.
  • Puppy Love: In the new series, there are occasional mild hints of this between Julian and Meera.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: School teachers Jeff Pringle and Lauren are both these to the children; and PC Arthur Selby is one to Greendale as the village policeman, though in later episodes he often falls into Police Are Useless territory.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: Most audiobooks in the 80s and early 90s replaced the iconic theme with a keyboard synth instrumental. Curiously some later ones took to including both themes.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • The iconic theme song was remade for the 2004 series.
    • Done again for Special Delivery Service, with a more cinematic tone to it to compliment the more action-focused series.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The DVD releases of the first two series both use the Series 2 title sequence with the Series 3 theme song, due to problems with the rights to the original theme.
  • Santa Ambiguity: The old man in "Postman Pat's Magic Christmas" sure behaves as though he's Santa, but he's never confirmed to be.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation is a beautiful portrayal of English countryside and villages.
  • She's a Man in Japan: In the Norwegian translation, Jess is called "Miss" and is female.
  • Shout-Out: Everyone not telling Pat how they knew it was his birthday is a reference to that famous quote "That's for me to know and you to find out!", but Reverend Timms' reaction? "He who reads shalt learn!"
  • Strictly Formula: Special Delivery Service episodes normally begin with Pat being given his delivery by Ben. Then on the way to deliver it, something goes wrong. Pat usually fixes it up and accomplishes his task by the end of the episode. There are times in the series when Pat has to go elsewhere to get the delivery, such as to Ted's garage when some technical glitches causing the sorting office's machines to go haywire, or to the Post Office to buy Ben and several others time to prepare a surprise party for him.
  • Slice of Life
  • Spin-Off: Spun off twice: First into Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service, and at the same time Jess got his own show targeted at toddlers, Guess with Jess.
  • Theme Tune Extended: Ken Barrie released a three minute version of the original theme in 1982. Somewhat unjustly, it reached only 44 in the charts.
  • Title Theme Tune: "Postman Pat/Postman Pat/Postman Pat and his black and white cat..."
  • Token Minority: The Baines Family, Token Asians added to the cast for the 00s series.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the earlier cosier episodes, Pat was a fairly competent postman who would go beyond the usual job demands, but wasn't demanded much else. As the stories got more action packed and cartoony however, Pat sometimes excelled into Action Hero level status. Taken up to eleven in The Movie, where both he and Jess are stopping an evil plot with killer robots.
  • Unstoppable Mailman:
    • Occasionally, he goes to great lengths to deliver a letter, such as being a passenger on a tractor driven by Miss Hubbard, to deliver a registered letter to some hikers.
    • This is put to the test in one episode of Special Delivery Service, where Alf, Selby and Ted all try numerous tactics to slow down Pat and Jess and buy Ben time for preparing the party. No matter what they tried, though, the duo kept finding a way around the blockages, like switching vehicles or just dashing through on foot. In Pat's words, "no-one can stop the Special Delivery".
  • Vanity Number Plate: PAT (insert number here). To add salt to the wound, he drives a van with the Royal Mail logo on it!
  • The Vicar: The white-haired Reverend Timms, who regularly says phrases such as "the rain falls on the just, and the unjust".
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Edwin Carbunkle in the 2014 movie. Less in the sense he is particularly sinister, but more the show itself never really has antagonists at all, and was usually very laid back fare with mild cartoon peril at worst. Edwin puts it best himself when he summons his legions of evil robots to attack Pat.
    Carbunkle: The days of loveable friendly mailmen helping quaint country characters with their stupid little problems is over!


Pat and Katy

Katy's very happy to have her dolly back.

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