They're Knights of the Round Table, and they certainly
are not able.
Indeed in Zenith's all-new animated series for
CiTV, King Arthur's clown
princes are veritable no-hopers....
"King Arthur's Disasters" started airing
last week, 11th April, but alas
The Hound had a disasterous time of things, with
birthdays and business
to the fore, which meant that the show wasn't previewed
So how to make amends? - Well, let's fill in some
detail. "King Arthur's
Disasters" is a cross between "Monty
Python" and "Maid Marion" and
is Zenith Entertainment's first ever foray into
the animation world. It's
a co-production with Neptuno Films, based on an original
Paul Parkes and Will Ashurst. This is quick-witted
guaranteed to get your ribs tickling. The show is slotted
in to a 4.30pm
timeslot, but don't let that fool you, there's
great crossover appeal for
us Bigger Kids here.
The premise has the legendary English knights of yore
epic quests and madcap escapades in which they
absurdities as Yodelling Dolphins, Pink Knights, backward-flying
trapeze artists, Norwegian minstrels and Cornish peacocks.
King Arthur is voiced by Rik Mayal, a self-centered
not Rik!) who is fixated by Morwenna Banks'
Guinevere. The King
will throw himself into any number of outrageous
ventures to win her
love, much to the chagrin of his confidante, Merlin,
man-of-the-moment Matt Lucas. Phil Cornwell ( Gilbert!
) is also
armoured-up as Sir Launcelot. 13 x 24" episodes
have thus far been
produced, and you can meet the characters and
stars and view a clip
from this jolly romp on the
official web site.
Gadzooks, t'is a frolicsome show! - Tune in for fun
4.30pm on CiTV.
Oh, but we beg to differ because Philip the pompous
horse, Mark the
right-wing sparrow, Winona the dog, Keiron the
cat, Claire the breast-
infatuated rat, Hugh the sex-mad monkey
and Niall the call-centre rabbit,
otherwise known as the fugitives from Project S, have
"I Am Not An Animal" ruffled a few feathers
when it arrived last May.
The six part series from Steve Coogan's
Baby Cow was brought to
by the multi-talented Tim Searle and Triffic
Films (they of "2DTV" fame,
amongst many others). The show followed the exploits
of six experimental
talking animals, set free from their cosseted
life in a vivisection unit to explore
the world at large. Only they're too busy
bickering and back-biting to really
get on with things. And - oh - how they
miss the creature comforts of their
designer home. The real world is so uncultered
The comedy voices include those of Steve
Coogan, Simon Pegg, Kevin
Eldon, Julia Davis, Amelia Bulmore and Arthur
Matthews. The show was
a hit with the critics and grabbed
itself quite a cult following in its late-night
broadcast slot (10.00pm on BBC2). For the
DVD release the BBC have
included a "making of" extra and commentaries
for three of the six episodes,
so we can delve even deeper into the minds of
those animals. If we
can possibly handle it!...
Aardman Animation have been busy of late. Recently
we've had Planet Sketch
trumpeted across the media, and now, from MIP comes
news that they've optioned the rights to a trio
of Roddy Doyle's excellent
Mr. Doyle is, of course, the much-lauded author
of such Irish gems as "The Van",
"The Commitments", "Paddy Clarke
Ha Ha Ha" and "The Snapper". But he's
also been winning rave reviews for his childrens'
trilogy. "The Giggler Treatment",
"Rover Saves Christmas", and "The Meanwhile
Adventures" feature the Mack
family, Rover the dog, and various Gigglers, reindeer,
slugs, and lots of
Firstly there's The
Giggler Treatment (2000), starring a mischievous band of
pixie-types known as Gigglers. These cheeky little
chappies help kids to get
their revenge on adults who treat them improperly.
In this particular case that
"revenge" involves Rover the dog, Mr.
Mack, and more-than a little of what dogs
like to do.
Saves Christmas (2001) has Rover saving the winter festivities by pretending
to be a reindeer. And not just any old reindeer, either,
because he has to take the
place of Rudolph.
Meanwhile Adventures (2004) has Mr. Mack being sent to jail, a daring
a missing mother, a circumnavigation, and a bunch
of Irish slugs bent on world
domination - all taking place at the same time.
Aardman hope to adapt the trio into feature-length
specials for television, as
a co-production with Treasure Ireland Entertainment,
although it's early days
yet, so there's no word on the techniques being
employed, broadcasters or
even a whiff of a schedule. But it's hard to see
these not getting the greenlight
from someone soon...
What more could an ageing Hound want for his birthday
Isn't it brilliant? - This Dougal cake is a Tesco's
in-store exclusive, beautifully
boxed and presented and based on the Robbie williams
version from the new Magic Roundabout
movie. Yes, it's probably stuffed-to-busting with sugars
and all-round zebadness. But - oh boy - it tastes as
good as it looks and it's
brought a BIG smile to this Birthday Boy's face
today - Yum!
The packaging states there are 18 portions to
be had here, but at that
the rate we're going he could be gone by tea-time.
That's if a kidney
doesn't pop first...
Set your video for Monday 18th April at 9.00pm,
because that's when
BBC4 broadcasts the first part of their mouthwatering
three part documentary analyses the development of the animation
industry in the UK - from past to present - taking
in our feature film heritage,
those evergreen tea-time tv classics, advertising
and industrial films,
and on to our freethinking, artistic shorts and
endeavours (a little bit
like this site, in fact...).
The first part, "The Art of Persuasion",
puts the UK's propaganda and
advertising films and promotions under the spotlight.
Part two, "Something
To Say", takes a peek at our counter-culture
classics by way of Monty
Python and "Yellow Submarine", whilst
the final film "Visions of Childhood" spends its time wallowing
in kids' TV nostalgia. All three
episodes are stuffed with interviews and clips,
and each is being supported
by a whole evening's worth of associated films
and material - enough to
make Hounds like us howl with anticipation: "Automania
"Charley Says", Digby Turpin's "Pan-Tele-Tron"
promo, "The Do-It-
Yourself Cartoon Kit", Gerald Scarfe's "Long
Drawn Out Trip", "Bob's
Birthday", "Girl's Night Out", "The
Pogles", "Captain Pugwash"
and plenty more gems and pearls...
website fills in the details, and I'm told there'll be clips and
a producer's interview added there, too, in the
next few days. Which all
adds up to a tantalizing package of delights, don't
you think? - It's just
a shame it's on digital only. Let's just hope
this gets a BBC2 repeat,
so that those without a set-top box can get their
Pete Bishop dropped me a line this week. He's
been directing the first
term of Hat Trick/Decode's anarchic adult toon,
Hill). We Brits have yet to see anything of the
show, but over the Big Pond, the series is now
airing in Canada,
late-nights on Teletoon, and picking up a satchel's-worth
reviews on the way.
"Bromwell High" is set in a rundown
inner-city school, and stars the
"Laydeez" Keisha Marie, Latrina and
Natella and their various school
mates and teachers. It's been Flash animated
out of Collideascope ,
in Halifax, Nova Scotia and billed as a British
(a billing that was attached to Empire
Square recently, too).
But how frustrating that something so spectacularly
should air abroad first!
Still, that's the way the co-production
crumbles. So for now,
school is indeed "out", but only on
This is an exquisite series, produced for the
BBC by S4C and Christmas
Films in Moscow, over a protracted period of the
early nineties. It features
retellings of Shakespeare's famous plays, in an
abridged half-hour format
and various media were utilized for the films:
stop-motion for "The Tempest",
cel animation for "A Midsummer Night's Dream",
etc. Best of all is the telling
of "Hamlet" for which the animation
was etched on painted glass, frame by
laborious frame, to create an unforgettable luminescent
piece (a technique
used again in "Richard III").
The plays were adeptly abridged by Leon Garfield,
and a host of famous
British thespians fill the soundtrack. The series
subsequently picked up two
Daytime Emmy awards for Best Animation (1992 and
Okay, let's be honest, this isn't really a British
production because although
the project was conceived in Wales and executive
produced by Chris Grace,
it was actually animated in Russia and Armenia. But
- oh - just set your
nationalistic pride aside for a while, because
this is wonderful stuff, and
it captures the work of some incredible craftsmen and
before the collapse of their state-funded industry....
You know, there's more to birthdays than just
year, the Hound finally got a decent digital camera. And the
first results are already making
themselves known on the site.
Now some folks may mock my efforts over at Bunty's
Booty and Cracking Collectibles.
But you know, this site attempts to cover all aspects of
British toondom, and many fans will you tell,
collecting comes hot on the
heels of their appreciation for a character, creation
or series. A good
character licence can extend adoration and awareness
as well as making a shed-load of revenue for the
And frankly, no one has done it better than Aardman
here in the UK.
As I say elsewhere, they've given us a fantastic
array of licensed goodies,
with ne'er a dodgy character likeness in sight.
Bunty's Booy and
Cracking Collectibles are there to chronicle these
splendid efforts for
others to envy and copy, or simply to drool over.
They're also there
as a checklist for collectors who can see what
they have or haven't
got, go forth and tick the boxes on their own
In Aardman's case, the imminent arrival of the
Wallace & Gromit movie
is going to be very interesting. "Chicken
Run" goodies saturated British
High Streets back in 2000. And before that, of
course, Wallace & Gromit
had shop tills ringing around the country. Will
we see a repeat for
"Wererabbit"? An official W&G shop
has already popped up online, and
the PR department have recently announced that
hold the US Master Toy Licence, which guarantees
at least one
collection of figures to make collectors weep.
Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, with Bunty's Booty now spruced up and almost
up to speed,
the Hound can turn his attention to those
Cracking Collectibles. You
should stay tooned for a stack of updates,
new photos and info over the
coming weeks. And as the countdown to the new
film continues, a
new "Wererabbit" off-shoot may also
be in the works - if my wallet
can handle it....