The Hound says "Welcome to Toonhound!" Toonhound logo
  cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK  Union Jack


  british toon
  news & chatter
  animated films
  & shorts

  animated series

  animation studios

  & people

  string, hand
  & finger puppets

  characters, strips
  & comic books

  British animators
  & illustrators


Toonhound presents...






  Short British Films &  TV Specials

     Animaland - Ginger Nutt

  small spacer
   David Hand's
Animaland  (1948-1949)

small spacer
   producers:  GB-Animation
  animation:  cel animation
           films:  9 x 7mins (approx)


    Once upon a time there was a brave British toon studio which hoped to conquer
    new animated heights. It was called GB-Animation (short for Gaumont-British)
    and it was set up at Moor Hall in Cookham-on-Thames in 1949, by the highly
    regarded American animator David Hand, with backing from J Arthur Rank.
    Hand came to Britain via Disney, having been employed on the likes of
    "Snow White", "Pinnochio" and "Bambi". Under his leadership, a crew
    of some 200 personnel were assembled, and production began on two
    series of short animated films; nine "Animaland"cartoons and ten more
    Musical Paintbox shorts.

    Of the two, the "Animaland" cartoons are best known. These featured a host
    of colourful critters at play. Four of them starred a chipper squirrel called
    Ginger Nutt and his pals Loopy the Hare, Corny the Crow and Dusty Mole,
    as well as Ginger's sweetheart Hazel. The studio was grooming young Ginger
    for animated stardom, and several licensing deals were struck in his name.

    The other five toons in the series adopted a "mockumentary" approach, observing
    animal antics from a distance with the aid of a narrator. But these sat rather
    awkwardly next to the Ginger Nutt films. Ginger's antics took place in a specfic
    woodland, with talking characters, whereas most of the fauna in this
    second selection were non-speaking. Even so, they were umbrellred beneath
    the same "Animaland" title, and both sets of critters were united in one
    celebratory film "Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus".

    Sadly, the "Animaland" shorts failed to find their audience. Technically,
    they were faultless. Each toon was lushly painted and the characters
    had great vigour. But critics pointed to poor storylines and characterization
    which seemed merely a paler imitation of the American short form, rather than
    something distinctly British. And it's true that the critters inhabiting these
    toons might well have stepped straight off a Disney sketchpad.
    Their voices were awkward too. Our "star", Ginger Nutt had a particularly
    weedy intonation. His four films featured some lively interplay and hijinx, 
    but the hero just lacked that certain winning sparkle.

    In the end, GB-Cartoons folded within three short years of its launch.
    But the studio's legacy lives on, and although the story and character flaws
    remain, the modern-day viewer can now look back and marvel at the
    draughtmanship on display in these underappreciated gems. Seriously,
    you can't find fault with a film like "The Cuckoo", which features a
    delicious, dark interlude and some dazzling design. It's surely one
    of the very best cartoons this country has produced..

  spacer number five

    GB-Animation stars

    Some notable folk passed through the doors at Moor Hall (though not all
    of them stayed!).

     Animators Arthur Humberstone and Nick Spargo both went on to join
      Halas & Batchelor. Arthur later scaled the heights of Watership Down,
      whilst Nick eventually invited us in to Doyley Woods.

     Michael Bentine and Bob Monkhouse were part of the Moor Hall
       writing pool. Bob also voiced several of the Animaland critters.

     Another famous name of the writing credits was that of cartoonist
       Reg Parlett.

     But perhaps most famously, that antipodean import Bob Godfrey was
      actually turned down as a GB-Cartoons trainee!

  spacer number five

    "The Ginger Nutt Gift Book" from Juvenile Productions "The Cuckoo", "Zimmy the Lion" and "Chester the Cat" - three pitcurbooks published by Juvenile Productions.

     Promoting Animaland

     The Ginger Nutt Gift Book
     This handsome board-bound annual is undated. It was published by
     Juvenile Books of london, and its 122 pages feature numerous stories,
     comic strips, puzzles and games starring all of the Animaland gang.
     Three of Ginger Nutt's films get the story treatment. There's a map of
     Animaland, a guide showing  us how to draw our star squirrel, and an
     introduction to the animation process which featurses four black and
     white photographs of the GB-Animation team hard at work. None of
     the artwork is credited, alas...

     Animaland storybooks
     This fantastic trio was also published by Juvenile Books of London.
     The Cuckoo, Zimmy the Lion and Chester the Cat were just three
     of six publications billed on the back covers, though this reader has
     never seen the other three titles in the series - did Ginger Nutt Esq,
     Oswald Ostrich and Digger Platypus ever make it into print?

     Well, let's just hope they did because these books are simply fabulous.
     Each retells the relevant character's cartoon story with glorious illustrations.
     The colours leap off the page - they're quite magnificent. They're undated,
     though copyrighted 1948. And once more, alas, there's no artist credit...

     Beswick figures
      were produced by Beswick from 1949 to 1955. Ginger Nutt,
     Zimmy the Lion, Hazel Nutt, Loopy Hare, Felia, Dusty Mole,
     Dinkum Platypus. designed by arthur gredington.

  spacer number five

    The Animaland cartoons

     Here are the nine toons, with synopses and credits.

     It's interesting to note that the five "mockumentary" films don't mention
     the animals' names. Many are only latterly revealed when the animals
     assemble for "Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus". And further names are
     only revealed off-screen, in the tie-in books and publications.

     Oh, and one thing you really won't find here are voice credits.
     These aren't present on the credit cues, so we can only guess at
     who did what - although it's often reported that comedian Bob
     Monkhouse gave voice to Ginger Nutt's pal Corny Crow. As to
     the others....?

    Animaland - Ginger Nutt & Hazel - Chirpy Sparrow - Sandy Ostrich

    The Cuckoo (1948)

     starring: Mr & Mrs Sparrow, Chirpy Sparrow, Cocky Sparrow,
                 Cooky the Cuckoo, Willie Weasel

     An off-screen Narrator encourages us to observe Mr and Mrs Sparrow
     as they play unwtting hosts to a greedy young cuckoo. Their other
     legitimate child, Chirpy, has a nightmare time before losing his place
     in the nest. Poor Chirpy soon finds himself in the clutches of Willie
     Weasel, until his cuckoo half-brother intervenes - although a rescue
     isn't quite what's on his mind....

     This was the first and best of the "Animaland" cartoons. The tone
     is blacker than black throughout, and the action is interrupted with
     a fabulous musical interlude.
The song, "A Cuckoo Ain't So Cuckoo
    After All"
is accompanied by stark and outlandish cuckoo caricatures.

     much like the Pink Elephants who marched through Dumbo's alcoholic
     dreams. It's a gem.

    direction:        Bert Felstead
   Ralph Wright
    animation:      Frank Noysey, John Wilson,
                          Stan Pearsall, Arthur Humberstone
    set design:     John F. Reed, Pete Banks,
                          Bettina Hansford, Jeff Martin,
                          George Hawthorn
    story:             Reg Parlett
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

    The Lion (1948)

    starring: Zimmy the Lion, Estelle the Elephant, Boko Parrot,
                  Lena the Lioness, Biffy and Buffy Buffalo

     In Darkest Africa a Naturalist ponders the myth of the lion.
     Is he really King of the Beasts? The observed lion cub looks fairly
     clueless as he tangles with an elephant. Three years later the same
     lion is witnessed preening for a mate, as Boko the Parrot intervenes,
     and our hero has the tables turned on him. Finally, nine years later,
     our same lion is comes unstuck as he hunts buffalo. As the Naturalist
     mocks his efforts once more, so our hero changes tack and swallows
     the buffon whole!

     The tie-in books and apparel promoted Zimmy as a lovable lion
     cub, but this toon exposes him a far-less appetizing man-eater!

    direction:        Bert Felstead
   Ralph Wright
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, Ted Percival,
                          Bill Hopper, John Wilson,
                          Chick Henderson
    story:             Pete Griffiths
    set designs:    Pete Banks, Erik Rickus
    backgrounds:  Geo Hawthorn, Betty Hsnsford
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

    The House-Cat (1948)

    starring: Chester the Cat, Felia, Casper the Alley-cat

     An off-screen Narrator asks us to study a kitten playing with the ring
     on a blind. The youngster pretends it's prey of various guises for him
     to torment. Then we pick up on the same cat in adolescence,
     competing for the affections of a flirty feline, and almost coming
     unstuck as he battles an outraged alley-cat...

     The film features a splendid musical interlude as we hear about
     "The Cat's Meow". And the climactic fight has our hero shedding
     8 1/2 of his 9 Lives. The departing Lives then bombard the enemy 
     with their halos, driving him away and winning the fight for our hero!

    direction:        Bert Felstead
   Ralph Wright
    animation:      Frank Moysey, Arthur Humberstone,
                          Bill Hopper, Chick Henderson,
                         Ted Percival
    set designs:    Pete Banks, Eric Rickus,
                         George Hawthorn, Betty Hansford
    story:             Reg Parlett, Nobby Clark
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

The Australian Platypus (1949)

    starring: Digger Platypus, Dinkum Platypus,
                 Kobber and Kate Kookaburra, Wanda Waddle

     Our friendly Narrator directs us to a pretty female platypus dusting
     down her home, just before a young male moves in next door. The
     two squabble and compete for each other's affection, to the amusement
     of the watching kookaburras. After a brief case of mistaken identity
     the couple take to the water together, and it all ends happily ever after
     with the arrival of their own young platypus child. Not so for kookaburras,
     who are now tormented by their own chittering offspring!

     This final waterbound frolics are beautifully arranged, reminding us
     of those classic Harman & Ising cartoons of the same era.

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    Ralph Wright
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, Bill Hopper,
                          Arthur Humberstone, George Jackson
    story:             Reg Parlett
    set design:      Pete Banks
    backgrounds:  Geo Hawthorn, Betty Hansford
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

    The Ostrich (1949)

    starring: Oscar Ostrich, Sandy Ostrich

     After some tomfoolery between an ostrich and its hatching egg,
     the big bird and its new hatchling stumble upon some Eqgyptian
     hieroglyphics and a musical number kicks in...

     There's no Narrator here, either off-screen or on. And Oscar and Sandy
     appear to have stepped straight out of "Fantasia".
However, "Don't Hide
    Your Head in the Sand"
is a grand little ditty, well-staged, and it
     helps paper over a painfully thin plot.

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    animation:      John Wilson, Frank Moysey,
                          Chick Henderson, Ted Percival
    musical dir:     Henry Reed
    story:             Reg Parlett
    set designs:    Eric Rickus, Perc Poynter
    backgrounds:  Geo Hawthorn, Betty Hansford
    vocals:           The Radio Revellers


    Ginger Nutt's Bee-Bother (1949)

    starring: Ginger Nutt, Hazel, Corny the Crow,
                 Loopy the hare, Dusty the Mole

     Ginger Nutt receieves a letter from Hazel,
arranging a rendezvous.
     And she's expecting flowers from her sweetheart. But Corny pieces
     the letter together for his own amusement and he, Loopy and Dusty
     can't help but interfere as Ginger gathers a bouquet. The ensuing
     antics disturb a meadow bee, with predicatbly painful results...

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, John Wilson,
                          Frank Moysey, Bill Hopper
    story:             Nobby Clark, Reg Parlett
    set design:     Pete Banks
    backgrounds:  Betty Hansford, Kay Pearce
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

    Ginger Nutt in It's A Lovely Day (1949)
    starring: Ginger Nutt, Corny the Crow, Loopy the Hare,
                 Dusty the Mole

     It's a lovely day all right. Perfect for fishing. So Ginger sets off for the
     river. Only, his pals Corny, Loopy and Dusty are in eager pursuit.
     Ginger confuses them en route, and thinks he's shaken them off
     But they catch up again as he starts fishing and they tie an old
     boot to his line. As the underwater japes continue, a pike muscles
     in on the scene and sends the trio scurrying away. Now Ginger
     can fish in peace at last...

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, Bill Hopper,
                          Arthur Humbertsone, George Jackson
    story:             Pete Griffiths, Nobby Clark
    set design:      Pete Banks, Perc Poynter
    backgrounds:  Geo Hawthorn, Betty Hansford
    musical dir:     Henry Reed


    Ginger Nutt's Christmas Circus (1949)

    starring: Ginger Nutt, Hazel, Boko, Willie Weasel, Corny,
                 Dusty, Loopy, Cooky, Chirpy, Kobber & Kate,
                 Chester, Zimmy, Oscar, Digger and Dinkum

     The Christmas Circus is about to begin and all the animals are
     invited. All that is, except for Boko the Parrot, who has to steal
     Willie Weasel's ticket to gain admittence. As the curtain goes
     up on the performance, so Boko must thwart the efforts of Willie
     to regain his seat and flatten the parrot. But in the end, Willie's
     the one who's silenced as the applause rings around the Big Top
     and we're all wished a peaceful Christmas...

     All the Animaland characters make an appearance in this film,
     and many are named for the first time as they perform in the circus.
     Ginger is the Ringmaster and Hazel mans the box office. Chirpy
     plays in the brass band, and Cooky Cuckoo is a One-Bird-Band
     on his own. Dusty Mole and Loopy Hare pretend to be Santa, whilst
     Kobber and Kate kookaburra clown around. Chester Cat attempts
     to walk the tightrope, Oscar puts his head in big Zimmy Lion's
Digger and Dinkum Platypus perform some nifty juggling
     and Corny is all set to be a human cannonball...

     Or is that "crowball"?

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, Frank Moysey,
                          John Wilson, Arthur Humberstone
    story:              Reg Parlett, Pete Griffiths
    set design:      Pete Banks
    backgrounds:  Geo Hawthorn
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

    Ginger Nutt's Forest Dragon (1949)

     starring: Ginger Nutt, Hazel, Corny, Loopy and Dusty

     Ginger Nutt will do anything to protect his sweetheart Hazel.
     But his oath is overhead by his pals, and they put it to the test.
     Now Ginger must find the courage to defeat their made-up
     Forest Monster...

     The was mostly notable for being the last of Moor Hall films
     to be completed. Like the other Ginger Nutt films, it's very
     well made, just a little bit uninspired. Indeed, one can argue there
     was more going on, creatively, in those "mockumentary" shorts
     than in Ginger's somewhat predictable adventures. Oh, but that's
     not saying these are bad. These are very handsome films, and
     Ginger is a mere whisker away from being a star. Perhaps the time
     has now come for a reinvention....?

    direction:        Bert Felstead
    animation:      Stan Pearsall, Bill Hopper,
                         Arthur Humbertsone, Chick Henderson
    story:             Pete Griffiths, Reg Parlett
    set designs:    Perc Poynter
    backgrounds:  Betty Hansford, Kay Pearce
    musical dir:     Henry Reed

  spacer number five

    Animaland on DVD

    You've read The Hound's opinion. Now you can check out all nine
    "Animaland" shorts for yourself, on this single disc release:

     UK DVD
                Region 2 / 70mins / Prism / April 2003


      On the web

David Hand Productions

      The offical site for info on all the GB-Animation films...

      Bob Egby
      Some memories here, from Bob, recalling his days as a
      messenger boy at GB-Animation...

      index »     musical paintbox »

© GB Animation / David Hand Productions / F2006