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                                                                     August 2004
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
New-look site coming together now...  More...

   Lord of the U-bend
McKellen to be Flushed Away now....

    Lord of the Roundabout

McKellen to voice Zebadee ....


Tony Collingwood has a secret show!....

    Time for Fred

    The bassett's back!...

    Lola is GO

    Charlie & Lola get the greenlight...

    Get Skwigly with it

News site on the up and up....

    Honey Monster is GO

Great advert, bad box office...

   Time for a trailer

Roundabout trailer now online...

    Still Woebegone!

Cloppa Castle DVD delay...
    Peppa Pig - from Astley Baker Davies! THREE LITTLE PIGGIES
Astley Baker Davies talk about
Peppa Pig...

      news archive »      interviews »

   Lord of the U-bend

    Not content with taking on the Magic Garden, Sir Ian McKellen's name now sits
    at the top of a Dreamworks press release detailing the initial voice-cast for
    "Flushed Away".

    For those not familiar with this one, "Flushed Away" is set to be an all-new
    stop-motion film announced as part of Aardman Animation's on-going production
    deal with Dreamworks, back in July 2002.  The story comes from the pen of veteran
    writers Dick Clement and Ian LeFrenais, and it follows the adventures of a pampered
    pet rat who accidentally gets flushed from his posh penthouse flat into the London
    sewer system. As various sewer-bound hijinks occur, our Mr Rat finds himself
    falling for the charms of sewer-life and its colourful inhabitants...

    ...And now we know a little more about those inhabitants. McKellen's character
    is a villainous frog, whose right-hand rat - or hench-rat, indeed - is a character called
    Spike. Spike will be voiced by "Lord of the Rings" star Andy Serkis. One final
    dangling carrot comes in the form of the star character. Word is, the flushed rat
    will be voiced by old Wolverine himself, Mr Hugh Jackman.

    "Flushed Away" will follow Aardman's much-anticipated Wallace & Gromit movie
    into the production pool and already, us animation fans are salivating...
Yahoo! news


   Lord of the Roundabout

   Some "magic" casting news today, with the announcement that Sir Ian McKellen
   is to voice Zebadee in the new bolexbrothers "Magic Rounabout" movie. That's a
   rather splendid surprise, given that Richard "Rocky Horror" O'Brien was formerly
   touted in the role, with Tom Baker as the voice of his duel self, ZeeBadee...

   McKellen joins stars Robbie Williams (Dougal), Kylie Minogue (Florence), Jim
   Broadbent (Brian), Joanna Lumley (Ermintrude), Bill Nighty (Dylan) and Ray Winstone
   (Soldier Sam) on the role call of fame, and the film itself launches February 2005.
   As was mentioned earlier this month, the first teaser trailer for this much-anticipated
   feature is now online for your viewing pleasure...

The trailer



    Wanna know a secret? - Not content with their efforts animating "Gordon
    Gnome" and "Harry and his Bucket Full of Dinosaurs", Tony Collingwood and
    his multitalented team have been working on an impossibly secret new series.

      Top secret images from "The Secret Show "...
            1   2   3   4
It's called "The Secret Show" and, true to its title,
it's been worked up into a pilot episode, below the
radar of animation scanners thus far. How sneaky
is that? - Well, The Hound met with Tony at a
suitably secret location, whereupon he revealed
some exclusive info on the show:

"After making Yoko! Jakamoko! Toto! we began
work, in secret, on The Secret Show, using the
same Celaction technology, but this time creating
a spy show for the older age group....

The Secret Show is the most sophisticated series
ever attempted
on Celaction. We're right in the middle
of making an entire 13 minute pilot episode, ready
for the Cartoon Forum in Spain..."

    Tony tells us the show is a cross between "The Man From Uncle" and "Monty
    Python", and stars secret agents Victor Volt and Anita Knight, and that the pilot
    episode has a guest villain voiced by Stephen Fry, called Lucky Leo. He
also tells
    us that he's working with the same team who made Yoko! and that, apparently, they
    have a theme tune and title sequence that will rival Yoko!'s for its compulsive
    infectiousness (Good grief, one wonders if that's possible...)

    Well, yours truly has tried to make Tony talk further, but like a true Secret Agent,
    he's being teasingly tightlipped about further series details:

    "I can tell you no more about the premise right now, other than
     it is a very fast, high action, funny series about secret agents
     saving the world, or large chunks thereof. The kind of show that
     rarely comes out of this country...

     The series has a surreal edge to it. For example, the villain in the
     pilot episode, "Lucky Leo", is a man actually born with the "lucky
     gene" and has therefore managed to evade capture his entire life
     through sheer luck. Until now...

     Stephen Fry was fantastic in the role - and already the animators
     are getting depressed that they'll have finished animating it in
     three weeks. Everyone's having so much fun on it!"

     And with those words, Agent C melted in to the shadows once more. Though
     not before slipping me an intriguing envelope. Therein were four fabulous
     photos of the stars in action. But you'd best view them quick, lest they

                                                                  More: Collingwood O'Hare


   Time for Fred

    Here's some news to set your tail - um - tongue wagging. That lovable muttering
    muse, Fred Bassett is set to return to our tv screens in 2005.

      Fred Bassett by Alex Graham

    Fred was created by Alex Graham, way back in 1963, and the hound became a
    household name through his strips in "The Daily Mail". Indeed, he still features there
    today. And what's more, syndication has brought Fred and his pals Jock and FiFi
    into millions of homes around the globe. In the 1970's Bill Melendez brought Fred
    to life in an animated series that's still fondly-recalled.

    And now Fred's coming back. Or at least, he's well on the way to coming back.
    Alex Graham's daughter Arran is acting as consultant to the proposed new series,
    being put together by producer and distributor VGI Entertainment. Pre-production on
    the pilot is already on the way, with plans for it to be screened down at Mipcom Jnr,
    the tv sales market in France, this coming October. All going well, the production
    team hope to them embark on some 52 animated episodes.

    By the way, there's been no word as yet on the casting for Fred 's voice, so The
    Hound will throw his hat in the ring and suggest that Richard Wilson might do
    rather well with the character. It'll be interesting to see who they've actually
    lined up...



   Lola is GO

    Remember "Charlie & Lola"? This animated pilot was presented to the world
    at last year's Cartoon Forum by the team at Tiger Aspect. It's based on
    the popular picture books by Lauren Child and focuses on the day-to-day
    exploits of Charlie and his perculiar sister. Lauren's books stand out from the
    shelf with their unique scrapbook design, mixing fabric patterns, textures and
    pictures to great effect, and the Tiger Aspect team stuck faithfully to Lauren's
    designs with their adaptation. By all acounts, the pilot proved very popular
    with those who saw it last year...
       Charlie and Lola at Amazon.co.uk
    Well, now C21
media and others report that the BBC have given the greenlight
    to a fully-fledged "Charlie & Lola" series and 26 x 11mins episodes will initially be
    produced by Tiger's head of animation/kids Claudia Lloyd, with directorial chores
    taken on by Kitty Taylor. The commission is another fine feather in the cap of this
    blossoming production outfit, who have previously brought us Mr Bean and those
    award-winning Bosom Pals.
    Look for "Charlie & Lola" appearing on CBeebies some time next year!

                                                                 More: Lauren Child at Amazon


   Get Skwigly with it

   Have you dropped by Skwigly yet? This UK animation news site is shaping up
   very well indeed. This week they've scooped some handsome pics of upcoming
   movie toons from Dreamworks and Disney, being promoted at Siggraph.
   In particular, though, webmaster David Smith is cultivating a rather useful
   animation forum where industry bods can communicate their views and opinions
   on the state of play here in the UK. It's still a young forum, and could do with
   some new threads from those in the know. So why not drop by and partake
   in some animated discussion...?


   Honey Monster is GO

    Well, it looks like those "Thunderbirds" certainly weren't go at the international
    box office this week, with the film nose-diving rather spectacularly in American
    cinemas. Launched on 2057 screens, the $57m production took just $2,776,810
    and landed outside of the top ten, at number eleven. Ouch. Build in an additional
    $20m print and advertising spend and you've got one heck of a shortfall to
    make up...

    Here in Blighty, too, the film is clinging on to the charts after a so-so opening
    at #3 in the chart, behind "Spiderman 2" and "Shrek 2". It's currently taken around
    $5.4m, but a 44% second week decline isn't particularly pretty.

      Sugar Puffs + Thunderbirds = Great advert!

    Meanwhile, regardless of the box office receipts, the publicity bandwagon has rolled
    on unabated. Pop brats Busted have taken their theme song to #1 in the singles
    charts, and them there cross-promotions still fill our tv screens day and night. The
    best is surely this fantastic Sugar Puffs ad starring our big yellow friend Honey
    Monster. In the ad, Honey's cereal bowl parts, just like the Tracey Island swimming
    pool, and Thunderbird 1 zooms skyward - fantastic!

    Of course, if the Powers That Be get their way, Honey Monster, Tony the Tiger,
    Snap Crackle & Pop and so many other classic advertising stars will all be removed
    from our screens quite soon. An act which seems to make little sense. After all,
    generations of Brits have grown up with these characters without any problems.
    Perhaps we ought to be more concerned with the parents who seem to
    succumb too easily to their kids' Pester Power...

    Hmm. And on that controversial note I think I'll return to subject
    matter I know more about!

Official Movie Site


   Time for a trailer

    Spring on over to this here site and you'll find the first teaser trailer for Dave
    Borthwick's "Magic Roundabout" movie, now online for your viewing pleasure.
    But is it just me, or have the distributors missed a trick? Here's a beautiful-looking
    film with a classic pedigree behind its past and present, only it's being presented
    as some sort of crass kiddie adventure film. The Magic Roundabout is surely
    more subtle than this? Granted, it's going to be a hard sell. The movie has to be 
    sold to a worldwide audience, unaware of the original. But still, one hoped for
    more - what am I looking for? - oh yes - sophistication...

      The new Magic Roundabout movie

    Oh well. If it helps gets bums on seats next year, who cares? This here animation
    buff has absoloute faith in the bolexbrothers. "The Magic Roundabout" is going to
    be a fascinating ride...

The trailer


   Still Woebegone!

    I tempted fate, I really did. You may recall, The Hound went positively giddy over
    news of "Cloppa Castle"s soon-to-be DVD release. July 19th was the date posted
    across the web and orders were duly placed.

    But July 19th came and went with ne'er a sight of Ethelbruda, Que-ee-dee and friends.
    Then Amazon and Play.com told us it was July 26th. Then August 2nd, and each time
    these dates came and went without any sign of a shiny round release. Currently
    August 9th has been posted as the new launch date for series one of the show.
    But frankly, this is beginning to smell as rotten as one of Jest-a-minit's jokes.

    This one looks like running a while yet...

    Updated   (11.08.04)

    I say, I say. Jest-a-minit. This one actually ran to Monday 9th, when "Cloppa Castle"
    finally appeared in stores. Now we can all sit back and wallow in 26 episodes of
    puppet prowess!




    Phew-ee! - Looks like the first major site update went okay after all (see last
    month's editorial). The Hound managed to update every single TvToons page over
    the last weekend with ne'er a glitch. As I said previously, the new design tweaks
    are small, mainly because folks seem to like things the way they are. But the
    little nips and tucks have speeded up load times by a second-or-two, which
    is always happy news for those still using dial-up connections...

    The most notable change has come to the front page of this site. That home
    page has always proven to be a handful. One has to think of image sizes, load
    times, search engine positioning, image copyright and more, so coming up
    with an acceptable compromise is a true blue headache. The main casualty of
    the latest re-design has been the selection of cartoon images which used to
    grace the top of the page. These looked pretty, but they bloated the load time
    and some browsers had problems negotiating the hyperlinks that were built in
    to the pictures. So that's it, they've been extracted, removed, erased, in the
    name of progress. Instead, the front page can do what it does best: promote
    the latest site updates and headlines and identify the various indexes for
    any newcomers...

    So what's next? - Well, like I also said last month, the Movietoons section
    gets a whupping over the next week or so, and alongside that you should see
    far more regular updates and comments here on these news pages. The Hound
    is hungry for news, so if you're a cartoon exec with some top british news,
    my ears are always open!

    Stay tooned too for at least two all-new Toonhound Q&As, coming online
    very soon. The first is with the rather BIG creators of Channel 5 hit "Peppa Pig".
    Plus, The Hound has had a natter with yet another former Fleetway star.

    Gosh, isn't life here exciting? -
 Till next time!

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'     thehound@toonhound.com

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