Pooch says 'Welcome to Toonhound!'TheHound - an irregular round up of toon news and chatter from the uk

  ...cartoon news interviews and views from 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



  Click here for Frankie Stein... Click here for Fungus...
   Click here for Bunty...  Click here for Wallace...








     Mr Hell gets comfy...Devil Talk with Alan Gilbey of Peafur

   Back in January 2001 Peafur's Alan Gilbey talked about
   'The Mr Hell Show', 'dangly bits', and more.

     Foxy Fellows       The interview      Why 'Peafur'?
     A difficult birth     On Mr Hell           Future Projects
  Serge The Little Seal Cub..



    Peafur Productions are putting the finishing touches to their hot new adult
    cartoon series, 'Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show!', a co-production with Sextant
    Entertainment for the BBC.    

    At the helm are David Freedman and Alan Gilbey, an American and a Brit,
    two former comedians-come-writers-come-animation fanatics who first met
    six years ago whilst touring on the Comedy Circuit. Legend has it they were 
    introduced by Lee Hirst - he of 'They Think It's All Over' fame - who brought
    them together with the immortal words: 'You’re both weird and obsessed with
    cartoons. Work together or I’ll nut ya’!'

    Thus was born a bountiful writing partnership. Together they've worked on
    'Rex The Runt', and those Bafta-winning 'Foxbusters', they've co-written with
    Tony Collingwood on the second series of 'Dennis & Gnasher' and script
    consulted on Snowden Fine's 'Bob & Margaret'. With the launch of Mr Hell,
    however, the partnership has mushroomed into a fairy ring of fungis (and gals).
    They've poached Jeff Marsh from 'The Simpsons', Nik Camecho from
    'Family Guy' and Barry Baker of Speedy Films fame...

    You'll find all the gory details at their very-flash website:



    In which Alan reveals how Peafur got their name, how he often feels like
    Harry H.Corbett and how he'd like to get his paws on the Greatest Super
    Agent In The World.  

    Being something of a newcomer to this interviewing lark, I thought I'd be
    gracious and start by plugging my own work.

    The Hound's questions are in bold


    Before I begin can I just say a big ‘thank you’ for letting me put
    these questions to you? Toonhound started off as a little piece of
    fluff on the web but it really does seem to be shifting up a gear...

    It’s a great site and very well written – we loved the way you imagined
    Ronald Searle twiddling his moustache with glee as he worked!
    (See Toon Gods )

    Mr Hell looks like fun, judging by those clips on the official site.
    And hip, in a kind of horned Johnny Bravo way. More importantly
    it's got pace. It zips along - Why, it’s almost American (except
    it's got dangly bits!)...

    Many thanks for saying that! Timing is a bit of an issue for me and Dave
    (who IS American, including his dangly bits!) and  we worked hard to get
    the pacing where we wanted it....

    Okay, let’s start with an obvious question - You’ve been
    asked this one a thousand times, right? Why the name ‘Peafur’?

    Well, all the impressive names like Universal and Dreamworks
    were already taken...

    One day Dave was walking his dog on Clapham Common, pondering the
    name problem, when he met a man with another dog and asked what it
    was called. " Deefur." said the man. "Why Deefur?" asked Dave. "D fer Dog."
    Said the cockney, like he was stating the obvious to a complete cretin –
    and so P fer Productions was born.

    So there you are on the Comedy Circuit, realizing you and David
    share a passion for cartoons. How did you make that leap into the
    animation pool? What was the break?

    I’d love to tell you a tale of a long, hard struggle, but really it was pretty
    jammy. Because Dave had been working in advertising - and a lot of the
    adverts he worked on were cartoons – he already knew many animators.
    One of them was Richard Goleszowski at Aardman – who was looking
    for some help developing his character 'Rex The Runt' into a series. We
    got the gig, and co-wrote (with Golly) the original thirteen scripts that
    got the show commissioned.

    Do you work as an 'Odd Couple' or are you and David
    actually 'Birds Of A Feather'?

    We’re more like ‘Steptoe and Son’ and have developed bickering into
    a fine art!

    So when you're writing, do you share things down the middle,
    or does one of you lean towards dialogue, and the other towards

    Every time it seems to be a little different, but generally I lean towards dialogue,
    because of my theatre and radio background, and Dave thinks filmic, because
    of his art directing experience. We both share a cartoon sensibility, but learnt
    narrative structure together. We used to spend hours sitting in the coffee shop
    in Borders in Oxford Street arguing loudly over the motivation of chickens!

    Have you had any difficult births? Which production has
    caused you most grief?

    The Mr Hell Show was the very first thing we worked on together, six years
    ago, and we quickly sold an option on it to Universal Pictures… who then
    tried to turn it into a live action sitcom about a lovable demon sharing a flat
    with some guy!

    Producers came. Producers went. Mr Hell sat on a shelf and got dusty.
    Then we got the rights back. Then someone else in the States said they’d
    make it – if we renamed him 'Mr Heck' and made him blue!

    Years passed. Stars went supernova. Producers kept telling us they loved
     the show – but could we change it completely so it wouldn’t offend anybody?
     And then last year, just as we were finally giving up on it, some people came
    along who were prepared to make what we’d actually written!

     So who inspires you? Who are your main influences?

     On 'The Mr Hell Show' it’s 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' meets 'Monty Python'
     – so it’s partly vaudeville and partly surreal – an appropriately Anglo-American
     blend, inspired by two shows we grew up with. In animation generally we buzz
     about all kinds of things - lots of classic work by Chuck Jones, Bob Clampet
     and Tex Avery of course, many episodes of 'The Simpsons', some episodes
     of 'Dexters Lab', 'Powerpuff Girls', 'Duckman' and 'Rocko’s Modern Life' - plus
     lots of comics, newspaper strips, the cartoon arts in general (most of the
     people in your ‘Gods’ section actually!) and the Marx Brothers. This week
     we’ve both in love with ‘The Rhapsody in Blue’ segment of Fantasia 2000,
     but not the rest of it (except the flamingos).

     Could you fill me in on the origin of Mr Hell. The show credits
     Hugh MacLeod as having created the character. Who's he?
     And how did it end up in your hands?

     Hugh was another friend of Dave’s from his advertising days, and had a series
     of greetings cards published, featuring a devil called Mr Hell. Unfortunately the
     extreme cruelty ( or was it honesty? ) of the things Mr Hell said on the cards
     limited their sales to people who hated the people they were going to send
     them to! Still, Dave thought there was a good character there, so….

     Bob Monkhouse was an inspired choice. Who picked him
     to voice the lead?

     Bob was suggested by Jon Plowman, head of comedy entertainment at the
     BBC, after a long search for the right voice. It’s a perfect match, and working
     with him was a genuinely great experience. 'So I’m a slimy, insincere devil?'
     he said at the first recording 'Typecast again'.

Trivia note- one of Bob’s first jobs was as an animator. In the late 1940’s
     he worked on David Hand’s Animaland  cartoons, before moving on
     to comics.

     I can’t believe Bob didn’t have a hand in those scripts -
     Did he give good ad-lib?

     Yes, but we couldn’t use much of it! Because of the nature of co-production
     the scripts have to go through several drafts and an approval process before
     recording – so that makes deviating from the final script problematic. But the
     BBC version of the show will probably have Mr Hell monologues over the end
     credits, and some of these are pure ad-lib.

     Has the finished show changed much from the original conception?

     In the beginning 'The Mr Hell Show' was about Mr Hell and Mr Hell only.
     He was going to go off and have long adventures…and probably run out
     of steam pretty quickly! Luckily, all those years in development hell allowed
     us to refine the concept- until he became the host of a review show full of
     equally jaundiced characters.

     Judging by the online clips it seems to touch upon some ‘delicate’
     subject matter. Did you run into any opposition from your broadcast
     partners? - Indeed, has it raised eyebrows at any of the American

     The current broadcast partners have been wonderfully cool about almost
     everything, but the gratuitous use of firearms seems to be posing a bit of
     a problem in the States (but only in cartoons!) We’re still looking for a US
     sale at the moment, but there’s interest.

     And now it’s done and dusted, do you have a favourite character
     in the show, and/or an episode you’re particularly pleased with?

     All the dust isn’t actually dusted yet, but episode five – 'Animation Special’
     - is the current studio favourite. It features Kokey The Kat (a justifiably forgotten
     cartoon character from the 1920’s), lots of stuff for animation fans, plus
     ‘The Photocopy Of Dorian Grey’s Arse.’ Also, watch out for regular
     appearances of ‘Serge The Seal Of Death’, who seems to be stealing
      the show in Canada.

     So where does it go next? - Have you been pooling ideas
     for the second season?

     Currently we’re still working on series one – reviewing story boards and
     music, and making last minute changes. It’s been a long year and it ain’t
     over yet, whatever the calendar says!

     Then we plan a nervous breakdown.

     Peafur is marching boldly on with umpteen new projects which
     you've detailed on your website. Which one is next, is it
     'Bounty Hamster'? If it is, can you reveal what it’s about?

     'Bounty Hamster' is a co-production with Silver-Fox Films, planned for
     CITV in 2002. It’s ‘True Grit’ in space, only the John Wayne character is
a hamster! We’re aiming for a fast moving mix of wise-ass comedy and
     solid SF stories, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We’re also
     developing a second project for BBC2, and want Peafur to become known
     as a company that really understands cartoons and comedy.

     Are the 'Foxbusters' coming back?

     Sadly it appears not. Although the series won a Bafta and a British
     Animation Award, today’s pop kids were more interested in the adventures
     of a jerkily animated Japanese boy and his pointy yellow rat!
     But I miss them.

     Is there any existing series you would like to do?

     A revival of DangerMouse!

     And further down the line, do you plan to move into features?

     We have in fact already written one that hasn’t yet made it into production,
     but we’d love to see it happen one day. I think we’d bring a very different
     approach to a feature. So if anyone out there has about ten million
     going spare…..

     Alan, it's been a pleasure. Good luck with Mr Hell!



    This was the very first Toonhound Q&A, conducted back in January 2001.
    At the time 'Aaagh! - It's The Mr Hell Show!' was receiving plaudits and applause
    courtesy of its Canadian broadcast and the show was scheduled to appear over
    here come Spring, late-nights on BBC2. But The Beeb being The Beeb, the
    broadcast date was pushed back - way-y-y back -  eventually to late October...

    Peafur have pushed on since 'Mr Hell' and 'Bounty Hamster' hit our screens
    in 2002. It's another fast-moving, funked-up feast of humour and action...

    Toonhound has also broadened its relationship with David and Alan, and
    as a consequence we
've been able to get our paws on some fantastic
    original Mr Hell production material over at our web store, ToonsToGo.
    'Like what?' says you. Well, how about original pencil sketches,
    development art? - Yep, now you're tempted, aren't you?....

     - Getting there!


© Peafur/Sextant/BBC  / F2000-2004