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                                                                     October 2004
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Flattery or thievery?
Toonhound and the BBC...     More...

    Nicole gets Flushed

Another top name for Aardman's toon...

    BAFTA beckons...

The nominees are...

    Ivor Wood - R.I.P.

The passing of a genius...

    Slagged off
Viz calls time on the Fat Slags...

    A secret worth sharing

The Secret Show - set for success...

    Everyone sing his name

Rupert returning via Cosgrove Hall...

    Benn's business
Developments at King Rollo Films...

    First Class auction

    NLT charity art auctions...
    Peppa Pig - from Astley Baker Davies! THREE LITTLE PIGGIES
Astley Baker Davies talk about
Peppa Pig...

      news archive »      interviews »

   Nicole gets Flushed 

    You can add another star name to the "Flushed Away" voice cast this month,
    because Nicole Kidman is all set to voice the character of Rita, a street-smart
    sewer rat encountered by our intrepid ratty hero when he gets - literally -
    flushed out from his pampered penthouse home in Aardman Animation's
    forthcoming feature adventure.

    Nicole will be joining an impressive voice cast that already includes
    Sir Ian McKellen as the voice of a villainous frog, and Andy "Gollum" Serkis
    as the voice of his Hench-Rat called Spike. And rumours still persist that
    Hugh Jackman will be the voice of the stop-motion star. "Flushed Away"
    follows the new Wallace and Gromit movie into production down at Bristol,
    and it's being produced as part of Aardman's ongoing production
    deal with Dreamworks SKG.

Aardman Animation


   BAFTA beckons...

    Is it that time already? - Goodness, how the year has flown by. The shortlists
    for this year's Childrens BAFTAs have been announced to the world this week.
    So without further ado, let's reveal the nominees of note to this site:

    Best Animation:

      Lambros Atteshlis, Malcolm Hartley, Fiona Shore Glasshead Ltd/C4

       Toon Disney/Dandy Productions/Disney Channel UK

Honeycomb Animation/Elephant Productions/Carlton/CiTV

Denise Green, Chris Hermans, Ben Townsend TV Loonland/BBC

     Pre-school Animation:

Spellbound Entertainment/Famous Flying Films/BBC

       Phil Davies, Mark Baker, Neville Astley / Astley Baker Davies
       Contender Entertainment/Five

       Robin Lyons, Timon Dowdeswell, Andrew Offiler Siriol Productions/S4C

       Christopher O'Hare, Tony Collingwood, Andrea Tran
       Collingwood O'Hare Entertainment/CiTV

     As always, these are too close to call. The Pre-school category is particularly
     tight, with all four shows being of tip-top toon quality. If Yoko! picks it up it will
     be at the second attempt, of course, given that the show was nominated last
     year too. Peppa Pig is a fave, but mind you, those "Koala Brothers" are a
     delight. It wouldn't be a surprise to find them "helping" themselves to the award
     this year...

     And let's give a special round of applause to Honeycomb Animation and friends.
     "Grizzly Tales For Gruesome kids" has snuck onto the animation scene this
     year and snaffled up a BAA en route. T'is a popular show. Jamie Rix has earned
     himself a grizzly writer's nomination to boot. But he'll be up against Tony
     Collingwood again, because Mr C. has been nominated in the writer's category
     for the second year in a row. As I pointed out last year, that's a rare coup, given
     that "Yoko!" has barely a word of dialogue in each episode...

     The complete list of nominees is now online to view at the official BAFTA site.
     ands the award-winners in all categories will be announced November 28th.



   Ivor Wood - R.I.P.

    Oh golly, this is sad. On the 13th October, we lost one of the great names
    in British animation circles. Ivor Wood was synonmous with tea-time tv toons.
    Through his work with Serge Danot, FilmFair and Woodland Animations his
    name appeared on a host of our most favourite animated shows:
    The Magic Roundabout, The WomblesThe Herbs, Postman Pat, Paddington,
    Hattytown Tales, Bertha, Gran, Charlie Chalk - Ivor's list of animation credits
    is/was extraordinary.


    Ivor's career began in France (he was born there, in fact). Whilst working
    for a Paris-based advertising company he met up with Serge Danot, who was
    busy touting around his idea for a stop-motion animation series. That series was
    "Le Manege Enchante" which was later translated to "The Magic Roundabout"
    and, well, everyone knows how successful that production was...

    Wood's forte was was stop-motion puppet design. He teamed up with author
    Michael Bond to bring us the delights of Parsley the Lion and friends. He
    designed and built Orinoco and the other Wombles and it was he who
    juxtaposed that fabulous Paddington Bear puppet with those 2D cut-out
    backgrounds and characters. His Woodland Animation stars had that
    wonderfully regonisable look: A big bulbous nose on a straight upright head.
    So appealing. So perfect. His animated worlds were beautifully realised.
    Parsley's herb garden was "herbidacious"; Merrytwit was a scrummy
    collage of paintbox colours, just perfect for Charlie and friends. Even
    that more realistic of realms - Greendale - was a delightful concoction
    of drystone walls, patchwork fields and leafy hedgerows.

    It wasn't all puppets, though. Ivor occassionally dabbled in 2D scenarios
    like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, but it 3D that was his forte,
    and Ivor has taken some extraordinary tv stars along with him to the
    cartoon firmament...

   Slagged off

    "Viz" fans will be crying into their ale today, with the news that those illustrious
    gals the Fat Slags are about to make their final appearance in the publication.
    Sandra and Tracey have been regular strip stars in the magazine for 14 years,
    guzzling their way through men and booze and  full-chested mirth. But last
    week saw the UK launch of the live-action "Fat Slags" movie with Fiona Allen
    and Sophie Thompson shoehorned into suitably fat suits, alongside the likes
    of Geri Halliwell and Naomi Campbell. And it's a stinker. Or at least, it's been
    savaged by the critics. What's more, its dire reception was matched by the
    staff at the "Viz" offices, causing "Viz" editor and "Fat Slags" creator Graham
    Drury to call time on the gals grotesque antics in protest. The BBC quote
    Graham as saying:

     "After seeing this crass and ill- conceived film I just
      don't feel like drawing them again".

    And he means it. Next week's issue will indeed feature the very last
    appearance of our favourite gruesome twosome.

The Fat Slags!

    Those "Fat Slags" have been treue blue "Viz" stalwarts over the years.
    Loved and loathed by so many, and seen regularly on British High Streets
    every Saturday night. They've had their antics turned into animated form
    and they've even been used to advertise Lucozade!

    As for the film, well, "Viz" sold off the film rights to the strip six years ago,
    and we had much speculation about those who might be filling the gals
    shoes - including the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Minnie Driver. In the
    end, filming commenced last year beneath many publicity radars, with Ed 
    Bye the director of the "Kevin and Perry" movie at the helm.

    Which all well and sad, of course. But it's equally interesting to note that
    Britain's favourite adult humour mag is on the cusp of its celebrational Jubilee
    edition, with the self-same next issue marking 25 years at newsstands.
So the
    extra publicity is all rather handy, isn't it? And no doubt the "Viz" team will
    still be busting a gonad or two with joy, even if Sandra and Tracey aren't
    at the party....

                                                        More:  Viz   Fat Slags on video


   A secret worth sharing

    Now here's a secret that's just too big to keep. The Hound has been able to
    take a sneaky peek at the pilot of Tony Collingwood's top secret series,
    "The Secret Show" (see August's edition). And by jove, it's an absoloute treat!
     Ssh! - Here are some top secret images from "The Secret Show "...

    How does one describe the production? - Well, Tony says it's a cross between
    "The Man From Uncle" and "Monty Python", but The Hound reckons there
    are hearty helpings of "DangerMouse" and "Austen Powers" in the mix. 
    The pilot follows the exploits of agents Victor Volt and Anita Knight as they
    hunt down the luckiest of villains Lucky Leo (voiced by Stephen Fry).
    They're aided in their quest by the more-than-barking Professor Professor,
    and a Basil Exposition-type figure whose name is changed daily to
    avoid identification - with predictably daft results, of course.

    The breakneck tale takes us around the globe and features some snazzy
    hover bikes, a train-load of gold coins, lots of spit and polish, many an evil
    sneer, and even a grand piano or two. It's big, brash and bright, with lots of
    quickfire action and editing, and plenty of wit and wisecracking to help it on
    its way. To say any more here would spoil the plot, but I can say that it's all
    terribly British, and delivered with a stupendously stiff upper lip - what! what!

    Tony says the pilot went down very well at Cartoon Forum and MIPCOM,
    so it looks like a proper series could come together very soon. And
    let's hope so, because if the rest of the proposed series ends up like this
    it should become a classic.

    We Brits have conquered the world with our preschool animation. It's
    something we've excelled at over the last decade. But in the mean time,
    the action/adventure genre has become sorely neglected. "Bounty Hamster"
    took us to the other side of the galaxy, but there's been precious-little else
    of late. So now we have "The Secret Show" standing proud, and there's
    "The Carrotty Kid", those "Chop Socky Chooks" and other action heroes
    waiting in the wings. These are adventurous times, indeed!...

                                  More:  Some Secret images!   Collingwood O'Hare


   Everyone sing his name

    The multimedia mayhem of MIPCOM is now well under way in the south
    of France, and plenty of toon news is beginning to emerge. Today's big
    headline involves Nutwood's most famous resident Rupert the Bear.
    You may recall, last year Rupert was at the center of a high profile
    rights wrangle which ended with Express Newspaper owner Richard
    Desmond and Northern & Shell acquiring all image rights and copyrights
    on the little bear and his woodland pals.

     Rupert The Bear - copyright Express Newspapers/Northern & Shell

    Desmond's then concern was that poor Rupert wasn't being properly
    exploited by Nelvana of Canada, and he made great play about his
    proposals to boost awareness for the chap around the globe. Well,
    today in France, the first of those Big Plans has been revealed in the shape
    of an all-new stop-motion tv series commission, to be produced by the fine
    folk at Cosgrove Hall Films. The new Rupert series will be designed and
    produced by CHF's Francis Vose and Bridget Appleby and it must surely be
    a dream project for them. Just thinking about the quality they'll bring to
    the table makes your heart race, doesn't it? - The Hound can't wait to
    see what they come up with!

    But there is one slightly sad thought to bear in mind here. This new
    high-profile production could very well prevent Mary Turner and John
    Read's original puppet series from ever getting a proper DVD re-release.
    And that would be a crying shame. I know I've spoken about this before,
    but if I was part of Northern & Shell, I would ensure that Rupert's famous
    past is celebrated alongside his revival. A retrospective compilation and
    appreciation of the original Tourtel stories, the strips and annuals would
    surely rekindle interest from an older generation, weaned on that magnificent
    Bestall artwork, those incredible puppet designs, and Jackie Lee's hit
    theme song.

    Rupert past and Rupert present could compliment each other perfectly.
    It would be a travesty to have all that Nutwood history buried beneath a
    barrage of preschool licensing and promotion. Oh! - there's a whole
    Classic Rupert division out there, waiting to be exploited. Let's just
    hope Mr Desmond is listening...

                                                                          More: Cosgrove Hall

   Benn's business

    Some interesting business news over the weekend, regarding developments
    at King Rollo Films. King Rollo are author/artist David McKee,  producer
    Clive Juster and animator Leo Nielsen, and under their production banner
    they've brought us the joys of "Mr Benn", "King Rollo", "Victor & Maria",
    "Towser" and more. Now C21media reports that the company has
    undergone an interesting restructuring. The production entity King Rollo
    Films Ltd, has separated from the rights-holding entity Rollo Rights.
    Leo Nielsen is now the owner of King Rollo Films, and Clive Juster and
    David McKee are the owners of Rollo Rights (with Juster as MD).

Mr Benn

    So what does this all mean, and why is it being reported here at Toonhound?
    Well, the upshot of this shuffling is that Clive Juster now has space to start
    exploiting the intellectual property rights of their characters with a tad
    more gusto. And that, in turn, means we could soon see a whole lot more
    of "Mr Benn" and friends on British High Streets and in all-new films and
    series. Which is festive news, indeed, because Mr Benn and King Rollo
    are classic creations, deserving a full and thorough High Street exploitation
    - just like "Bagpuss" and company. Who knows, we could all soon be
    wearing "Mr Benn" bowler hats, or "King Rollo" leggings...

    Well okay, the licensing side is rife for speculation, but what is certain is
    that an all-new "Mr Benn" film is currently underway - commissioned by
    Rollo Rights, and set to air on Nickelodeon UK. And as if by magic...
    more top films could follow!



   First Class auctions

    Got a few pennies to spare? - You might want to make a beeline over
    to eBay, where Pitney Bowes (the mail and communications specialists)
    are running a series of charity auctions on behalf of the National Literacy
    Trust. They've asked a bunch of celebrities to contribute designs to the
    front of a series of envelopes, and thus far, they've had more than 50
    submissions from a host of famous folks. Each features hand-drawn
    original art and the styles and abilities vary dramatically, and fabulously.

     Nick Park's cracking envelope...

    Toon fans will no doubt be salivating over Nick Park's terrific Wallace & Gromit
    envelope, and Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman art is equally mouthwatering.
    Then there's Quentin Blake, Ronald Searle, Telegraph cartoonist Matt, Kipper
    Williams and Tony Hart. Plus there are other celebrities as diverse as Richard Curtis,
    Kate Winslet, author Jacqueline Wilson, athlete Colin Jackson, BBC newsman
    Huw Edwards and - well - many more from many different walks.

    The auctions opened on Sept 30th and they'll close on Oct 7th.
    Already, bidding on the Nick Park, Raymond Briggs and Quentin Blake
    designs have raced through the £100 barrier - which is great news for
    the NLT. Let's hope they all get much higher...

                                                          More: Pitney Bowes eBay auctions

   Flattery or thievery?  

I've been operating this not-so-little web site of mine for more than five years,
    and in that time it's grown from a single page of toon links in to the 600+
    page behemoth you see before you today. Toonhound gets a shed-load of
    visitors every day, and in their wake comes a constant stream of positive
    feedback from happy viewers, alongside questions from toon fans, queries,
    corrections, contacts from the animation world, and some hefty
    mailbox-jamming press releases to boot!

    What I'm steering you towards is the fact that Toonhound.com, the name,
    the site and the content it covers are quite well known upon the web. Do
    any number of Google searches for series and creations indexed here and
    you'll find me and mine right up there near the top of your results. Lots of
    of folks link to the site and lots of industry bods are aware of the name, and
    on top of that, many researchers and authors have contacted me and
    Toonhound to talk about my preferred subject.
    So why am I telling you this? - Well, frankly, I'm ticked off. Because I have
    reason to believe that someone might be trading off my good name. And,
    of all people, that "someone" is that bastion of British tv and radio: The BBC.
    Over these last five years BBC researchers and journalists have been in
    regular contact with me, asking for info, details and comment about toons
    and cartoons. Toonhound is known to them, and The Hound has duly and
    happily assisted them in any way possible. But now, this week, Radio 4
    is set to broadcast a special programme hosted by Phil Jupitus and
    using the 50th anniversary of Halas & Batchelor's "Animal Farm" as an
    excuse to look at the workings of the British animation system. And
    would you believe, they've gone and nabbed my web name for their title.
    In their infinite wisdom, they've called it "Toonhounds and Teabags".

    Now excuse me, folks, but the term "Toonhound" was certainly not a
    common animation term before I started this site. T'was I who linked the
    term to British cartoons and animation, and proceeded to splatter the title
    across the great WWW. During my time on line I have striven to connect
    Toonhound.com with all things British and animated or cartooned, and to
    celebrate the UK's contribution to the world of toons. And at the end of the
    day, I own the domain name too.

    So now we have the BBC and "Toonhounds and Teabags". Part of me is
    naturally flattered, of course, but the rest of me is somewhat irked that a
    corporation which is more-than familiar with me and my efforts should snaffle
    up my good name for their production with ne'er a word in my direction.
    Okay, so I don't have any legal control over the name, but the association
    between British toons and Toonhound is indisputably, toontastically mine.
    What's more, I've already received a number of messages from folks wanting
    to know if I've been involved in the project!

    I guess I can vent and rant all I want, but the show will still go on regardless.
    "Toonhound and Teabags" is broadcast Thursday, 7th October at 11.30am
    on Radio 4. It's also available for download for seven days on the Radio 4
    web site. And in the course of its half hour, Phil Jupitus talks to the likes
    of Bob Godfrey, Peter Lord and Oliver Postgate.

    But he doesn't talk to me.

    Till next time!    

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

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