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Toonhound's Willo the Wisp Giveaway!




                                                                     October 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Crackingly popular
Wallace and Gromit and Toonhound...   More...

 New for ewe
 Aardman's new series...

 Busy bees

 Sweet times for Honeycomb...

 BAFTA news

 The nominations are in...

     Not a grand day

     Aardman's history up in smoke...

    As if by magic...

     Mr Benn on DVD...

     last month's news »         news archive »        interviews »

   New for ewe  (24.10.05)

    Not content with dominating cinemas, and headlines, Aardman Animation
    have recently been pressing their advantage on the tv front as well...
    For starters, our woolly pal Shaun the Sheep turned out to be the toast
    of this year's MIPCOM tv market. As you may recall, Shaun is about to star
    in his very own BBC series, and Aardman have racked up some very healthy
    broadcast sales for the 40 x 7mins production.

Shaun the Sheep!

    According to the new press blurb, Shaun will encounter - quote - problems
    that threaten his peaceful life, while making some unlikely friends in the
    process - end quote. Which doesn't really tell us much at all. In fact,
    we were given more info last year, when the project was first announced.
    (He'll be synchronised swimming and scarecrow-posing, I believe). But
    who cares? - This one's bound to be a cracker, indeed, it's set to be a
    Christmas one, because it's due for delivery in December next year.

    Meanwhile, it's time for us to set our videos for the imminent return of
    those "Creature Comforts". The second series of this top show begins this
    coming Sunday, 30th October on ITV. And once again, the show is
    going out in conjunction with ITV's flagship soap "Coronation Street".
    This time, it's airing just before the soap, at 7.20pm, and judging by the
    promos that have been running recently, it's just as sharp as series one...

    Back on the big screen, "Were-Rabbit" is already hopping past the magic
    $100m mark. As of this weekend (21st - 23rd October), the movie has raked
    in $44m Stateside, $29m in the UK and a tasty $108 worldwide. It's particularly
    heartening to see it holding steady at cinemas, with very little drop-off,
    week-on-week - this at a time when exhibitors are examining their declining
    takings with a microscope, and postulating as to the causes. Well, Nick
    Park and friends obviously know the answer: They should make more
    cracking films like theirs!...
                                                                       More: Aardman


   Busy bees 

    You know, Simon and Sara Bor and the folks at Honeycomb Animation
    must be buzzing right now. This week, their splendid work on those
    "Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids" has been rewarded with a double
    BAFTA nomination, and the news comes hot on the heels of a
    brand-new toon commission.

     Funky Town - coming soon from Honeycomb Animation...

    "Funky Town" follows in the footsteps - er - make that hooveprints - of "Funky
    Valley" which has had a very successful run as part of Five's "Milkshake!"
strand. Voiced by Mark W-W-W-Williams, "Funky Valley" followed the
    everyday lives of several slightly strange farmyard animals. And "Funky
    Town" continues the tales... in a town. Allan Plenderleith (The Odd Squad,
    Gordon the Garden Gnome) is the town writer, with Mark Williams returning
    for voice-over duties. Dippy the Cow and Clara the Hen will be departing
    Funky Valley for the joys of city life, together with a host of new friends,
    and we'll be able to view the results next year...

    That funky commission joins the previously-announced news that two
    more series of "Grizzly Tales" are also in the pipeline.

    Now as if awards and commissions weren't enough, this coming week,
    Honeycomb will be celebrating the DVD release of their fat cat show Binka.
    Target Entertainment are releasing the moggy on Monday 24th, and their disc
    includes 8 original episodes with some new bonus material to boot.

    And on top of all that, there's that thoroughly modern rhino Randolph, who
    could soon be charging down a commission (again, see August's edition).
Which tells us that Honeycomb's little studio is most definitely a hive
    of activity at the moment!...

                                                         More: Honeycomb Animation 


   BAFTA news  (18.10.05)

    Ah, yes, the leaves are falling from the trees, the Autumn floods are upon us,
    and any minute now the clocks will spring back an hour. Which means it's
    time for the folks at BAFTA to roll out the red carpet to a few select series and
    specials, in advance of their nail-biting, tux-wearing, Children's awards ceremony.
    This year's event pitts two pairs of cranky twins against some nasty goblins and
    an ickle reindeer in the Best Animation section. Whilst the Pre-School award
    promises to be the closest ever, as a bunch of pigs, penguins, koalas and
    witches familiars slug it out for the trophy...

    Here are the relevant nominees:


     Best Animation:

       Production Team (Grizzly TV/CiTV)

       Denise Green, Frank Gresham (Telemagination/Cartoon Network/Cartoon Network UK/BBC)

       Jonathan Peel, Dave Unwin (Millimages UK/CiTV)

Neil Graham, Alastair Swinnerton (Jack Frost Productions/Zoo Films/CBBC)

     Pre-school Animation:

David Johnson, Tobias Fouracre (Famous Flying Films/Spellbound Entertainment/CBBC)

       Phil Davies, Mark Baker, Neville Astley (Astley, Baker, Davies/Nickelodeon UK)

       Carl Gorham, Roger Mainwood (Absolutely Productions/CiTV)

       Bella Reekie, Kevin Walton (HOT Animation for HIT Entertainment/CBBC)


     See what I mean? - Those four Pre-school series are inseparable. I'd hate
     to be the one deciding between them. Peppa's snortingly good. Oh, but
     Pingu is another HOT hit, and those Koalas are simply bonzer. Meg and
     Mog cast their own little spell upon us viewers too.

     The Animation category feels a tad more certain. The Hound has his money
     on little Jack Frost. It's a very atmospheric film, with some great character
     design, a haunting theme song, and - more specifically - a raft of top toon
     talent behind it. Dare I suggest this is Jack's year? Oh, no doubt I'll be far
     wide of the mark. BAFTA will probably zap me into a mirror and force me to
     watch as some other Grizzly folks step up to the podium (that's the plot
     of "The Crystal Eye", in case you weren't aware).

     Actually, that Grizzly film might well profit in another awards section, because
     Jamie Rix has been nominated in the Original Writing category. Certainly,
     one of the great charms about the whole "Grizzly Tales" series has been the
     fantastic storytelling, with its witty asides and twists. An award would be
     very deserved.

     As for the rest, well, the "pick" of the other categories surely goes to
     Fungus the Bogeyman. The BBC's great green adaptation of Raymond Briggs'
     famous book has been rewarded with nods for Best Drama and for Best
     Adaptation (stand up Mark Haddon).

     You'll find a full list of categories and nominations on the BAFTA web site.
     Meanwhile, those nominees have a nervous month to endure before the
     gongs are handed round on November 27th...



   Not a grand day 

    The Hound can only add to the chorus of sympathy that's gone out
    to the Aardman Animation team today. The news that their warehouse
    of artifacts, props, sets and characters from their films and creations
    has been razed to the ground is doubly terrible, given that we all should
    have been celebrating Wallace and Gromit's success at the box-office
    this last weekend.

    The fire has certainly dampened down the good news that "Curse of the
    Were-Rabbit" took a shade over $16m at the US box-office, between
    Friday and Sunday, putting it at number one on the American movie
    charts. "Were-Rabbit's" take wasn't spectacular, being slightly under
    that of "Chicken Run", which eventually clucked off with $106m over
    there, back in 2000. But "Chicken Run" had a high Summer release,
    and "Were-Rabbit" has also launched midst an all-pervading box-office
    malaise in the USA. That number one spot and the overwhelmingly
    positive reviews will hopefully keep the film cranking along very nicely
    for the next few weeks, regardless...

    Meanwhile, Wallace, Gromit, Hutch and friends burrowed up $5m in paid
    previews from the UK, which bodes very well indeed for this Friday's
    nationwide release. Our High Streets are beginning to overflow with
    an allotment's-worth of cracking licensed products, and our media is
    saturated with tie-in tales about Portland rabbits and their ilk. And now
    there's the fire, making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    But boy, how humble was Nick Park, who took such a gracious step
    back to remind folks that there's much greater pain in the world today,
    with all the terrible stories emerging from Asia:

    "Even though it is a precious and nostalgic collection and
     valuable to the company, in light of other tragedies, today
     isn't a big deal..."

    Which is probably just how Wallace himself might have reacted.
    No doubt, he'd already be  designing some extraordinary newfangled 
    storage facility to replace the old. But no amount of gusto can hide
    the fact that this is a sad, sad, day for animation historians
    and fans...

                                                                       More: Aardman


   As if by magic...  (09.10.05)

    At last, fans of Mr Benn needn't spend silly amounts of money on eBay,
    tracking down secondhand video copies of this classic show, because it's
    just been released on DVD for our delight!

         Mr Benn - yours to own on DVD!

    And what a delight it still is. Mr Benn - The Complete Series comes to
    us from Contender, and it does exactly what it says on the tin - er - cover,
    presenting all thirteen original episodes of this splendid series, as well as the
    recent new addition, "Mr Benn - Gladiator", and a little bonus documentary too.
 As soon as that diddly-pom xylophone theme begins, and Ray Brooks' warm
    narration starts to flow, folks of a certain age will be transported (by magic, even)
    right back to their childhood, and those week day lunch times in front of the telly.
And they'll be relieved to discover that the series has lost none of its appeal.
    Mr Benn is whisked away from Festive Road to become a Knight, a Spaceman,
    Clown and Cowboy, etc. And in each tale he travels, observes, and calmly rectifies
    wrongs before being whisked back home to the Fancy Dress Shop, with a
    memento in hand.

    So just what is it about this show that's just so appealing? - Is it David McKee's
    glorious design, with that flattened perspective (more pronounced in the story
    books, but still present in the series). Is it the stories, that have such simple,
    clever twists in their telling. Or perhaps it's in that theme of the ordinary man,
    escaping his humdrum days for something fantastic and exotic?

    Well, of course, it's all those things. But there's something more here, and it
    probably relates to Mr Benn's introspective attitude. Our bowler-hatted friend
    never shouts about his adventures. He doesn't run up and down Festive Road
    like a lunatic, raving about his magical travels. No, he simply blends back in to
    the world. He observes the Mums and Dads, the kids in the street, from behind
    his living room curtains. To everyone else he's just a regular, pinstriped gentleman.
    But Mr Benn has a secret, doesn't he? A very special secret that's meant only
    for him and the viewer. Our secret, then. Something to share and keep between
    us for always, and for ever. And that really is magic...
Mr Benn


   Crackingly popular  

    Blimey-o-riley, October has been an extraordinary month, and it's all down
    to our pals Wallace and Gromit. Anyone who's been following this site since
    its' inception (goodness, is there anyone?) will know that The Hound has
    always been a huge fan of the duo from West Wallaby Street. Heavens,
    they were present in the very first news page. Anyway, the point is, since
    the arrival of "Were-Rabbit" and its worldwide box office assault, stats for 
    this site seem to have gone ballistic. Everyone and anyone seems to be 
    dropping by to check out the news, the movie page, and of course,
    Toonhound's Cracking Collectibles mini-site. And more importantly,
    they're using those pages as a springboard into other elements of
    the site and the creations indexed there...

    Now what's particularly heartening to see is that a great many visitors
    and emailers seem to be dropping in from places outside of the UK.
    They've come here looking for Wallace and Gromit, before investigating
    the rest of this place. And that's "cracking" news indeed, because it means
    that this here site is finally achieving its original goal, of spreading the joys
    of Brit animation and its associated realms to a worldwide audience.

    You know, when you're tapping away on your keyboard, on your lonesome
    at 2.00am, you do sometimes wonder if you're simply preaching to the
    converted. Now I know for sure that I'm not, and Wallace and Gromit and
    that carrot-munching, chart-topping Were-Rabbit are the ones to thank...

    Till next time!    

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

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