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           February - 2001

   Blimey, Bob - It's a Snowden Fine special!

   Giving you the lowdown on Bob & Margaret Fish and featuring an
   exclusive Toonhound Q&A with their Oscar-winning, naval-gazing,
   creators Alison Snowden and David Fine...

Got any gossip?

Tell it to
The Hound!

Bob's Not A Builder
An introduction to Bob & Margaret...

Snowden Fine's film CV...

Bob-ing Along
Bob & Margaret's ongoing success...
  Bob, Margaret, Hector & Oscar
  Snowden Fine talk to The Hound...




     He certainly isn't! - As most Toonhound visitors will surely know,
     Bob Fish is a dentist, his wife Margaret
works at a chiropodists.
     Married for 17 years, they live in suburban London with their
     two dogs, Elizabeth and William .

     Er, and that's about it.

     You see, what's so unique about 'Bob & Margaret' is that it isn't
      really about anything, and yet somehow it's about everything to
     do with modern suburban life. It's an intimate, naval-gazing opposite
     to the nonstop shenanigans in Springfield. Often painfully accurate,
     Bob and Margaret make your toes curl with embarrassment as
     they fuss about their careers, their marriage, their health, their home,
     their sex life, their family, neighbours and friends - just like you, me
     and everyone else in the Real World. It's all terribly restrained and
     terribly British....

     'Bob & Margaret' is often referred to as an 'adult show' but
     its isn't profane or ultra-violent. What it explores are adult
     themes with viewpoints and references from the characrters
     that sail over the heads of a younger audience. Okay, yes, there's
     occasional swearing. Yes, there are some sexual references
     but their exposure is restricted to singular outbursts and
     expulsions - and they're all the more funny for that. You see,
     this thing isn't about sledgehammering laughs out of viewers.
     Instead it's constructed from little ripples of recognition and
     self-awareness which sneak up on you from every scene. And
     it's obviously doing something right, 'cos its creators have recently
     completed a second series of 13 half-hours for Nelvana, with a
     third and fourth looming large...

     Oh, and I suppose that Oscar statue has helped. See, Bob Fish
     and his blonde-mopped wife first appeared in 'Bob's Birthday',
     Snowden Fine's winning short in which Bob faces up to the
     rigours of life on the eve of his 40th birthday. A lifetime of
     anal retention is bottled in to a 12 minute film, and it all
     culminates with an outpouring at - ssh! - Bob's secret Birthday
     Bash in which he manages to offend each and every waiting
     guest and prolong the exposure of his dangly bits to all and

     Although 'Bob & Margaret' has pushed the animation
     partnership of Alison Snowden and David Fine under a
     commercial spotlight, this Anglo-Canadian couple already
     had a credential-stuffed CV of note, of which you may or may
     not be aware, and it's intriguing to see how certain themes
     run through their work and emerge, blinking, in to the
     sunshine of success that is 'Bob & Margaret'...


    Alison Snowden is British. David Fine is Canadian. They met
    in 1984 at The National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield,
    Bucks. where they were film-making and studying alongside such
    contemporaries as Nick Park (Chicken Run, etc.) and Mark
    Baker( the brilliant Big Knights). From there they moved
    to Canada where they worked at the National Film Board,
    producing a series of multi-award-winning animated films, before
    striking the creative mother lode that has been 'Bob's Birthday'
    and 'Bob & Margaret'. Their commercials work has also
    flourished, most famously via the Smarties Policeman ad, and
    the Hector, the Inland Revenue Inspector. Their work is instantly     recognizable and features rounded, orange-nosed folk, with
    bubbled fingers. David and Alison are now living in South-West
    London, with their daughter Lilly...

    Second Class Mail (1984)
    This was Alison's animated student short, made with David and
    other contemporaries at the NFTS. It's a 4-minute film about
     love via mail order and it was awarded the best first film Annecy
     and was Oscar-nominated. It features a lonely old woman
     who attempts to fill her empty life with the purchase of
     a 'companion'...

    George & Rosemary (1987)
    'I said, George & Rosemary, dear.. It was also nominated
    for an Oscar.... I said an Oscar - Oh, never mind...'

    Old George lusts for equally old Rosemary who lives across
    the street. After a hopeless phone call and various impedings
    he finally makes it to her door to declare his love - only to
    find that she's been harboring the same guilty longing for
    him all the while...

    As well as that Oscar nod, this also received a Canadian
    Academy Award and first prize at the Zagreb Animation

    In and Out (1989)
    Here, Alison and David take us on a journey through life
    - from birth to finish - in just under 9 minutes and they
    garnered another Canadian Academy Award and a Berlin
    Film Festival Award for their efforts...

    Bob's Birthday (1993)
    12 short, painfully real, minutes in the company of Bob Fish
    and his wife Margaret, on the eve of Bob's 40th birthday.
    This fabulous film repackages the familiar themes of
    longing, fulfillment, and emptiness we've been shown before,
    with pinpoint sharp delivery. It was third time lucky at
    the Oscars for Alison and David, winning them their first
    statuette and opening the door to the 'Bob & Margaret'


    Now as well as those there shorts, Snowden Fine have
    had their creative fingers in some advertising pies too. And
    whilst these productions aren't artistic endeavours in the
    same league as the shorts, there is the same stylistic identity
    to be seen in the orange-nosed leads for these two, in

    Smarties Policeman
    You know the one. The Constable spies a discarded Smarties
     tube on the pavement and - 'ello, 'ello' - takes a peek inside,
    only to be whisked away in to the Smarties universe. When he
     is eventually expelled from the tube he's turned all 3-D, and
     an alley cat has a good giggle ('cos only Smarties have the

     Hector - Inland Revenue
     This ongoing series originally featured the voice of the late
     great Sir Alec Guinness as Hector the Tax Inspector in a series
     of busy vignettes reminding us to submit our Returns on time.
     My favourite featured Hector is in his underpants, on a
     slimming machine - still wearing his bowler hat! Another
     company has since taken the reins on these... 

     There's more of course, but I don't have the space for a
     fuller CV. That's Alison and David's job and they feature
     plenty more info on the above, and more, on their official



     'Bob & Margaret' seems to be going from strength to
     strength. There are now 26 half-hour shows in circulation
     on TheParamount Comedy Channel in the UK, Global TV
     Network in Canada, Comedy Central in the States and
     numerous others and there are videos of the first series
     widely available...

     The first two seasons were produced by Nelvana Limited in
     Toronto and were overseen from London by Alison and David
     who directed the voices and reviewed artwork and storyboards
     from their office/home. They also wrote a number of scripts and
     story edited the ones they didn't write. Oh, and have I mentioned
     that Alison also happens to be the voice of Margaret?

     Now that Nelvana have committed themselves to a third
     and indeed, fourth series, the two little Fish's are swimming
     to a new life in Canada - literally. You see, in the new shows,
     Bob and Margaret Fish have become Brits abroad in
     North America. That's because of the way the funding works,
     as David and Alison explain in the Q & A...

     Alison and David will retain a position as series consultants
     whilst the animation team in Toronto writes and produces
     the new shows. Creating the first two seasons of the show has
     taken its toll, and both are delighted to have had a break
     from things to spend time with their daughter Lilly -
     and it's also allowed me the opportunity to put my
     Q&A to them!

     If you've a taste for Fish - Bob and Margaret, that is - you
     should also visit the plethora of links on offer on my tvtoons
     page - They've got a quite a following on the web:

     TVTOONS - Bob & Margaret

     Best of all is that newly-expanded official Snowden Fine site
     with a complete illustrated episode guide and credits. And we
     mustn't forget  Nelvana, of course, who are investing so much
     time and energy in Bob and Margaret's continuing exploits...

      - Till next time!

       Bob & Margaret images copyright Nelvana LTD
       In and Out is a Snowden Fine film.
       George & Rosemary image copyright National Film Board of Canada
       Hector is the property of the Inland Revenue.


                                                           BOB, MARGARET, HECTOR & OSCAR 

- F2000