...cartoon news interviews and views from the UK!
news & chatter
IT'S A PUPPET!
& finger puppets
& comic books
April - 2003
Welcome to the
new-look news page!
The Hound goes daily (almost) with revolving headlines
and archived stories (in time)... More...
Scarlet In The Red
Anderson seeking funds...
Guardian talks about Vanguard film...
Everyone Wants His Name
Rupert rights wrangle revealed...
Cunning Little Film
Vixen debuts on tv and DVD...
Thunderbirds Trailer Is Go?
Counting down to the first trailer...
Here Come The Coles
Lo and Alison Cole talk
about BOD and friends
in our exclusive Q&A
Fungus Behaving Badly (30.04.03)
Way back in March 2002 you maybe recall that the BBC announced plans
to produce a live-action tv adaptation of Fungus The Bogeyman which
was schedlued for broadcast in January of this year. Raymond Briggs'
snot-infested tale Fungus The Bogeyman and his thoroughly miserable
life in Bogeydom was published 25 years ago, in 1977 and has matured
like some horribly ripe Gorgonzola over time. Truly, it's a germ of a book.
The BBC planned to create Mr B in glorious green CGI but - woe! - here we
are now a year-or-more on and still no Fungus series has surfaced. But behold
today, finally, an announcement has been made. The 3-parter is still forthcoming,
and what's more, that most-badly behaved actor Martin Clunes is set to star
alongside Cold Feet's Fay Ripley. They are set to play George and Jane
White whose daughter Jessica becomes trapped in Bogeydom with Fungus!
Apparently the production is to screen this Autumn on the BBC, and the
tie-in video release will edit the episodes together into one feature-length
Well hoo-bloomin'-ray! - It's about time, says The Hound. Talk about a live-
action Fungus has been with us seemingly since day one. Such luminaries
as Terry Gilliam and Sir Paul McCartney have all been tossed into the
various Fungus film discussions over the years, but although Fungus made
the translation into a stage production the foul film version never bubbled
up to to the top of the swill. Those dull, miserable days of Autumn can't
get here quick enough now!...
More: Gentleman Briggs
Scarlet In The Red (28.04.03)
Spare some change, Guv? - Gerry Anderson wouldn't mind a few coins right
now. Using an Enterprise Investment Scheme set up by Margetts, he's raised
the first £5million to fund his two, all-new, CGI pilot episodes of Captain Scarlet.
But now he's looking for another £10million to pay for the full series and he and
his production team are looking for it to come together before May 29th.
According to the Margetts web site, that first block of cash was raised very
quickly and hopes are high for them to acquire the rest in equally swift time.
Margetts have put together a tempting package with titbits from interested
licensees, revenues for the original series and a small page of images from
the new show...
So are you tempted? - Surely everyone is aware of this Anderson project.
It's been mooted and mentioned from pillar-to-post for so long now, surfacing
regularly in Anderson interviews and chat show appearances, on the web and
in the press. Indeed, if there's a factor working against it, it's overkill. There
was that Carlton tv pilot/test a few years ago, even Gerry's revelation about a
live-action feature film on Des And Mel last year. Meanwhile, Carlton have put
together those splendid original series DVDs and there's been a tidal wave
of tie-in product out there on High Street shelves over the last couple of
years. Enough with the talking, enough with the old, show us the new product!
Margetts tells us that first block of capital was raised in just three weeks.
With a certain live-acton feature now in production too Gerry Anderson's stock
must surely be on the rise again. Let's hope Captain Black doesn't intefere
with this one and that, finally, we can all see this much-discussed project
Valiant Comment (26.04.03)
Do yourself and favour and stop by The Guardian's excellent article about
Valiant, the British-based CGI feature from Vanguard. 'On A Wing And A Prayer'
includes details of the film's media launch, as well as a little historical info about
Rank's attempt to create an an animation studio at Moor Park back in the late
1940s. But best of all are some smart soud bites from that legendary fellow and
honourary Toon God Bob Godfrey. In one he cautions the makers of Valiant
over their potentially jingoistic film:
'Depicting Germans as hawks and British as pigeons is something I would
stomp on. Germans must be terribly fed up with being shown as the
bad guys. I think it's a mistake.'
And that's a moot point to make. The Hound, like so many others, has been
too wrapped up in the buzz around this project to actually stop and study the
concept. How would folks react if we made an Iraq War toon in which the
Americans were doves, taking on the vultures from Baghdad? There are WWII
wounds that are still healing today, half a century on. Let's hope Valiant's
production team handle those stereotypes with due care...
Everyone Wants His Name (21.04.03)
Everyone knows his name, and now everyone wants a piece of him it seems
because the owner of the Daily Express, the paper in which Rupert The Bear
first appeared 80+ years ago, has apparently launched a legal battle against
commercial rights holders Nelvana of Canada in a bid to reclaim the little bear
for the paper once more. Richard Desmond's group claims that Rupert's
commercial rights have been mismanaged of late and that the brand has been
allowed to go to sleep. If Express Newspapers get their way, Rupert could be
rivalling the likes of Bob The Builder and Noddy on the international stage.
We can now expect much protracted furore passing back-and-forth across
the Atlantic as Nelvana and The Express contest and counter-claim until the
matter is settled...
So is this a legitament claim or merely a publicity stunt? (albeit a costly one).
Who cares. The Express still publishes a regular Rupert strip and Annual,
regardless of any additional exposure. Nelvana still have their popular tv series
screening around the globe. Either way, the 'brand' wins, with all of the exposure
the case has given it and will continue to give it up until its conclusion...
Mind you, if the Express are looking to restore and release the original Mary
Turner adaptation of The Adventures Of Rupert The Bear tv series then - hells
bells! - The Hound will back them to the hilt and tie a yellow-checked scarf of
solidarity around every oak tree he sees!...
More: TheGuardian (for impartial info) Followers Of Rupert
A Cunning Little Film (21.04.03)
You know, that there Rupert case has cropped up at an interesting time
because Easter Sunday (20th April) brought us the first BBC2 broadcast
of Geoff Dunbar's animated version of The Cunning Little Vixen. Mr Dunbar
famously brought us Rupert And The Frog Song, of course, amongst
many animated classics over the years. The opera of The Cunning Little
Vixen was in fact originally inspired itself by composer Leos Janacek's viewing
of a series of comic panels depicting the exploits of a canny fox, so in a way,
the creative process has now gone full circle...
The production was brought to us by Geoff Dunbar's High Eagle Productions
with assistance from Richard Bazley's Bazley Films and was originally
scheduled for a Winter tv broadcast...
As for the film itself, well it was a most interesting hour, obviously reliant upon
your personal taste for opera. The background designs were loosely based on the
works of Toulouse Loutrec and many were splendid. Dunbar does like frogs,
doesn't he? There was a co-starring amphibian here. Scenes stand out, like
The Forester recollecting his lost love in a sepia pencilled haze - indeed, the
entire end sequence was golden. We've not seen such an free-reined work on
peaktime TV for quite some time, and that must certainly be welcomed and
For those of you who missed it, or indeed, wish to watch it again, you'd
best track down the DVD released to coincide with the broadcast. As well
as the film there are splendid extras in the form of an interactive storyboard
and Stages Of Animation guide...
More: Bazley Films Play.com
Mule If You Think It's Over (16.04.03)
Gosh that olde Nostalgia Wagon keeps rolling on, doesn't it? - The latest tv
familiar of olde to get a facelift is none other than Watch With Mother classic
Muffin The Mule. Muffin has been with us nigh-on 60 years now, his first
appearance being on the BBC show For The Children in 1946. Muffin's
performances alongside Annette Mills in the subsequent Watch With Mother
series are etched indelibly on the minds of an older generation...
Well now, earlier this year Mike Diprose and Maverick Entertainment snapped
up the rights to not-so-young Muffin, whereupon they originated an all-new
version of the equine to capture today's generation of viewers. The twist is
that Muffin is set to return not as a marionette, but as an animated character.
The BBC has ordered 26 x10mins from Maverick, who have had fine success
recently with their animated series of Snailsbury Tales. Oswald Ostrich,
Willie Worm, Pereguine Penguin, Louise Lamb and the gang will all be
present and correct in this new show, and the first episodes are currently
being lined up for the CBeebies channel, broadcasting in late 2005 or
early 2006 - just in time for Muffin's milestone 60th anniversary...
The new Muffin will certainly be an intriguing new show. Can Maverick pull off that
most difficult trick of reinvention for a new generation? Andy Pandy, Basil Brush
and Bill & Ben made the grade, Postman Pat and Fireman Sam are returning,
but pity poor Pinky & Perky, buried in the swill of nostalgia misfires...
On a personal note, The Hound can not help shedding a tear-or-two for the
switch from puppets to animation. There's something so beguiling about a
real-time marionette and it is perhaps a shame that so many modern production
companies are shying away from the technique. The recent Wark Clements
all-puppet production of Captain Abercromby has proven that they still have
their place. How will the new Muffin fare? - We'll just have to wait and see
Meanwhile you would do well to remind yourself of the original over on the
Muffin Collectors Club web site. It's a most attractive little site, featuring
information on the show, it's associated collectibles and more...
More: Maverick Entertainment Muffin The Mule
Thunderbirds Trailer Is Go...? (16.04.03)
Pinewood studios is currently ablaze with activity on the much-discussed
maybe-even-controversial live-action Thunderbirds Movie from Working Title
and director Jonathon Frakes (and 'ablaze' is indeed the word with reports
of the recent filming of an oil rig disaster and rescue for the film). But just
as important for us hungry hounds is news that the film's first teaser
trailer is all set to be tagged to prints of Ang Lee's The Hulk this
Summer. According to Dark Horizons, the trailer is said to feature the
new-look Thunderbird 1 flying past and landing in front of The Houses of
Parliament. The Thunderbirds logo then zips across the screen announcing
the imminent arrival of this £70m-and-counting production...
Thunderbirds' translation from series to screen has been long and convoluted,
not to say controversial too. But recent word from the set suggests the final
shooting script is a more cohesive creation than was feared, even though it
retains many of those Spy Kids-type elements that purists so disliked.
As The Hound has pointed out in the past, all this chatter and speculation
counts for nothing until the film is finally launched, so let's give this old
bird the benefit of the doubt for now, eh? - Maybe that teaser footage will
quell a few faint hearts out there...
More: Dark Horizons
A Spot Of Boohbah... (16.04.03)
Surely no one in the UK can have avoided the tidal wave of publicity accompanying
the launch of the brand-new kids' TV series from Ragdoll Productions this week?
Boohbah stars Humbah, Zumbah, Jumbah, Jingbah, and Zing Zing Zingbah -
bright coloured bauble-like creatures on a mission to entrance tiny tykes around
the world with their silly dances, songs and games. If it all sounds a bit
Teletubbies then you'd be right because Ragdoll were behind that one too.
Boohbah has started its first UK broadcast as part of GMTV's breakfast
line-up for the Easter holidays, with repeated C-ITV screenings too. No doubt
world domination will follow...
The arrival of Boohbah actually highlights a tricky Toonhound problem.
Namely, when is a puppet a 'puppet', and where does one draw the line between
a 'performance' and what is merely 'a man in a big suit'? Numerous fully-fledged
puppet series, from The Muppets to Toonhound's fave Cloppa Castle, have
incorporated full-suited characters into their line-up. But what about those
Teletubbies, do they count as puppets, suitable for inclusion in the It's A Puppet!
index, or should they be part of an entirely separate index? Certainly there's no
disputing their eligibility for Toonhound itself. It's just a case of finding a proper
place for them. Ah, the trials and tribulations of running a toon site!...
Bean In The USA (16.04.03)
Well now, just over a year since Mr Bean: The Animated Series broke new
prime time TV ground in the UK, an announcement has at last been made
regarding the American premier of the show. The 26 x 22mins/52 episode
series has been picked up by American Public Television alongside the original
live-action series, for broadcasts starting later this month. And that must
surely be welcome news for the numerous American visitors to Toonhound
and ToonsToGo who have been plaguing us with requests for info on the
show and its broadcast schedule...
...But at the same time as we can celebrate an American arrival, we can
only offer up frustrating news in the UK, where we are still eagerly awaiting
further episodes of the series, nigh-on a year from the first broadcast.
And far more frustrating is news that the major licensee for Animated Mr Bean
merchandise in the UK has recently de-listed its toys and mugs. That's
left us in a right pickle at ToonsToGo, where sales have been strong and
indeed, have picked up in the wake of that US acquisition - *sigh*...
More: Animated Mr Bean ToonsToGo
Hamster Bountiful (16.04.03)
Call him 'cute', call him 'g-r-r-reat' , call him Marion, but above all call him
a hit with C-ITV. Marion the Bounty Hamster and Cassie were launched
on C-ITV back in January in their action-packed sci-fi series from Peafur
Productions, SilverFox Films and Winchester Entertainment and as many of
you will know, The Hound has given this series two 'cute' thumbs way-y-y-y up.
And now it seems that The Hound isn't alone because ratings for the show
climbed very nicely throughout its run, and that has stirred the C-ITV executives
into a quick decision to re-screen earlier episodes again straight away and
capitalise on the show's popularity. G-r-r-r-reat, isn't it? - Certainly, it is for
Peafur who are also celebrating the current C-ITV repeats of Foxbusters,
the BAFTA-winning series from Cosgrove Hall which they scripted...
And all of this comes on top of news of the very first genuine Bounty
Hamster fan site to appear on the web. No honestly, neither The Hound
nor Peafur had a hand in this. It's a most enthusiastic place. Look
out for the home-made Marion plushie!...
More: Peafur Productions
The Hound Goes Daily (almost)... (16.04.03)
At last! - The oft-promised, oft-delayed new-look Toonhound is finally coming
together and Yours Truly thought it might be best to ease you in gently with
the reformatted news page. The Hound has always been popular, but it's
also been consistently the most frustrating page to edit. Why? Because
that there toon news doesn't just arrive on your desk in one tidy pile of headlines.
Oftentimes there's no exciting news for days. At other times there's a veritable
flood of titbits to entice and many require a little research or clarification
before they can be posted. And then there's the little fact that many current
headlines aren't so by the time they've been compiled within a monthly format...
...Which means it makes absolute, complete sense to tweak the format
just a little and become a revolving page of news like every other serious
news site out there on the Great WWW. From now on toon news will appear
here the moment it becomes newsworthy and, with a little help from a
small army of animation contacts, there should more original just-sourced
news originating from this very site too. Yep, Toonhound might finally be
coming of age...
And speaking of this here site. Stay tooned for the reformatted TvToons
section launching very soon. All pages have been updated into the same
layout you see here, with additional information, links and reviews. There
are a fistful of new additions too. This new layout dispenses with those fussy
rollover buttons and okay, maybe a little of the old Toonhound gloss, but in
return you get faster-loading pages and lots more info. And let's face it,
Toonhound is all about info isn't it? Once the TvToons section has launched
the rest of the site should follow relatively quickly, giving you an all-encompassing
guide to the very best British Toons online, off-line and everywhere else in
the cartoon universe...
all characters coypright to their respective estates/creators 'Pooch' copyright / site copyright - F2000-2003