Okay, so that's a cruel headline. It is,
of course, referencing the
all-new stop-motion Rupert series from
"Rupert Bear: Follow the Magic"
has been brought to life by the
multitalented folks at Cosgrove Hall,
and it features that much publicised
new-look star (sans
hoodie, thank goodness), exploring the wonders
of Nutwood with his pals. The series
is all set to launch as a top
toon in Five's morning "Milkshake!",
from November 8th, at 7.30am,
but you can take a peek at a whole little
story right now on Rupert's
site. And no doubt, the world will be awash with
reviews and opinions on the toon, from
here's The Hound's tuppence, based on what he's seen.
Firstly, the good. Nutwood looks gorgeous.
And so do the stars
and all the little effects and sparkles.
This place reminds us a
little of the realms of Spyro the Dragon,
from the famous platform
game. Rupert isn't half as bad as he might
have been, despite the
colour change, and Cosgrove Hall's animation
is naturally fabulous,
...But where's the character, the charm,
the wonder? - Rupert and
company now have bland, breathless preschool
voices, from the same
old troupe of voiceover stars. Mermaids
and dragons and magic bubbles
are just part of the furniture instead
of something to be amazed by.
And based on this underwater escapade,
Rupert is going to be starring
in a stream of cookie-cutter stories,
straight out of the Big Book of
Preschool Programming. Seriously, these sorts
of tales can be picked
up and dropped straight into any one of a dozen
similar series. There's
nothing wrong with them, but equally,
there's nothing special on offer.
And Rupert being the bear he is, with
an 85 year pedigree behind him,
his stories really should be special
Just imagine. Rupert could have starred
in a fabulous feature-length
adventure, recapturing all the magic
of his original stories. The Special
could have lead into an exciting tie-in series.
Hells bells, you could even
have produced an ongoing adventure,
with cliffhanging endings - in keeping
with those timeless newspaper tales....
Now, that's not to say that Preschool
Rupert won't be a hit. Goodness,
no. There's a big market for this kind
of thing. There'll be waves of tie-in
toys in High Street Stores and enough
promotion to pile-drive the
toon to the top of the preschool charts.
ER and Cosgrove Hall have
proven with Postman
Pat that they can take a creation and rework
it in to something even more special.
As it stands, "Rupert Bear:
Follow the Magic" is just a very
nice show. An effortless show.
But - oh - for what might have been...
Still, there is at least some good news
for us Bigger Kids, weaned
on the Annuals, the strips in the Express,
and that magical, special
Mary Turner puppet
series. Tucked away in the "Heritage" section of
that same official Rupert site, is a
quick guide to the character's history,
and a pledge to maintain "Classic
Rupert" alongside his thoroughly
modern new show. That's something The
Hound and many others
have been barking
for, ever since that Rupert rights wrangle kicked
off. And it means the little bear is
guaranteed a future, even after
this shiny series has glittered and
This week is Muffin the Mule's 60th birthday.
Now ain't that something?
hoss clipp-clopped onto our screens six decades ago, in the
BBC series "For the Children". He
was the critter who kick-started kids
tv in the UK. The first teatime star, if you
will, "discovered" by Annette
Mills and Ann Hogarth way back in 1946. And whilst
retire to life on a farm, or stroll the Blackpool
sands, Muffin has had
the televisual equivalent of a Botox injection,
enabling him to return as
an ageless 2D performer in his all-new
Of course, Muffin's not the only black and
white star to make a colourful
comeback. Stablemates Andy
Pandy and Bill & Ben
have also tumbled
into the new millennium, bigger and brighter
than ever. And talk still
surfaces about the return of those Woodentops.
Now they would make
for some interesting viewing. You can se it
now, Daddy Woodentop
always grumpy from the daily commute, Mummy
by her 4-by-4 and the School Run, Willy messing
with Alcopops and
illegal substances, whilst Jenny has to cope
with a teenage pregnancy.
Joking aside, the original Woodentops were
supposed to be a model
Nuclear Family for Post-War Britain. But in
today's multi-cultural and
expansive world, such role models don't exist
anymore - thank
goodness. The all-new Muffin, Andy
Pandy and Bill& Ben
proven that you really don't need to get too
"clever" with your updating.
And it's why they truly are "timeless"
The BAFTA boys and girls have just announced
the list of nominations
for this year's children's awards. So
without further ado, here are the
nominees of note for UK toon fans: Best Animation:
THE AMAZING ADRENALINI BROTHERS
David Hodgson, Dan Chambers,
Claire Underwood (Pesky Ltd, Studio B Productions, CITV)
KING ARTHUR'S DISASTERS
Edward Bignell, Julian Scott
(Zenith Entertainment Ltd/CiTV)
THE KOALA BROTHERS OUTBACK CHRISTMAS
Tobias Fouracre (Spellbound Entertainment Ltd/CBeebies)
THOSE SCURVY RASCALS
Oliver Hyatt (Blue-Zoo Productions for Entara/Nickelodeon UK)
CHARLIE AND LOLA
Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger Aspect Productions/CBeebies)
THE KOALA BROTHERS
David Johnson, Tobias Fouracre
(Spellbound Entertainment Ltd/CBeebies)
Team (Granada Kids/Zinkia Entertainment/Cosgrove Hall Films/CiTV)
Owen Balhatchet, Chris Taylor
(Entertainment Rights/Cosgrove Hall Films/CBeebies)
THE BASIL BRUSH SHOW gets a deserved nomination
CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is naturally included
in the list
of "Film" nominees, and is also featured
in the "Kids Vote"...
HARRY AND HIS BUCKET FULL OF DINOSAURS gets
a nod in
the "International" category...
And Dave Ingham (CHARLIE AND LOLA) and
Jamie Rix (GRIZZLY
TALES FOR GRUESOME KIDS) are both nominated
in the "Writing"
So there you go. Every year it gets
tougher to pick a winner. And every
year, Yours Truly speculates and pontificates
spectacularly wide of the
mark. So this time, you'll not be hearing
a peep from me. How on earth
do you pick a winner from those top
toon categories? Those "Adrenalinis"
are fantasticlly funny, and "King
Arthur's Disasters". But - oh - that
"Koala Brothers" Christmas Spercial is
a lovely little adventure. And we
mustn't forget those Scurvy scallywags...
No, Sir. This year, I'm not picking.
I won't even single out that Oscar™
winning, multi-award grabbing "Were-Rabbit"
for a special mention, lest
I curse its buck-toothed brilliance...
Well, regardless of anything The Hound
says, the winners will be announced
on Sunday 26 November 2006 at the London
Hilton. And no doubt, there'll
be plenty of tears and surprises on
Psst! - This is just between U.Z.Z., but
the super-secret Secret
site is launching today. Now it's not usually The Hound's way
plug a tie-in site, but this one's looking
rather special. A promo site has
been online for the last few weeks,
and it's been a doozy, teasing
us with info on Collingwood O'Hare's
cracking new series, and even
tossing a few fluffy bunnies in to the
mix. Based on what we've seen
so far, the fully-fledged site is a
You know, a lot of so-called "tie-in"
sites fall into that lazy trap of
throwing a few bits of pics and info
together, and if its a kids show, they
might toss in a few weedy colouring
and print pages, or a lazy word game
or two. But www.thesecretshow.com
is the perfect example of what you
can achieve, if you put your mind to
it (and have the budget, let's not
forget that these things ain't cheap!).
Of course it helps if the series
you're promoting is a fast-talking,
bunny-stuffed, Bad Guy-bashing classic....
...Then again, you also need top team
of developers to help you realise
your dream site. Complete
Control are the folks behind this top-secret
place. Their credits include the equally-well
realised tie-ins for Mr
Bean and Charlie
Now if you don't mind, to stop T.H.E.M.
from interfering with things,
this article will self-destruct in 10 seconds... 9
Okay, so Christmas is still months away. We haven't
Halloween yet. But this figure range is simply
too good to wait.
And more importantly, it includes a limited
edition piece that might
not be around come Christmas.
The figures in question come from Robert
Harrop. These are the folks
who've brought us those superlative Beano/Dandy
figures, and that
ever-expanding and ever-amazing range of Trumptonshire
Anyone who's collected those pieces knows
just how good Harrop
Well, over the last year or so, they added
several magnificent new
ranges to their catalogue, including figures
based upon "Bagpuss",
"The Clangers", "Thunderbirds"
and "Stingray", and "The Magic Roundabout".
But best of all, we've had a superlative range
of Mr Benn figures.
The first of them appeared back in the Spring, and
a second wave is
appearing in stores right about now. The
individual character pieces
focus on Mr Benn in a bunch of his fancy dress
disguises - straight
out of that wonderful costume shop. They're superb
capturing David McKee's creation, and each
piece comes with the
relevant memento of each escapade, again, straight out
episode. Seriously, these are faultless pieces. Just
what us fans
have been waiting for. But better still
this November a limited edition
piece is appearing that really is "magic".
It's the ident to the "Mr Benn"
series. You know, that circle
featuring our bowler-hatted chum in a number
of his costumes?
Robert Harrop have now reproduced as a musical
box. And what's
more it revolves whilst it plays the "Mr
Benn" theme tune!
Yes indeed, it's our very own Mr Benn Musical
Box to own and
treasure and it's only being released as a
1000 piece edition.
Robert Harrop's music boxes have always been
Their first Trumpton Music Box is still hugely
sought after and
fetches crazy prices on eBay (often £300+). That's
festive Mr Benn release is such a big deal.
Let's face it, if
you're a fan of the character you'll be in
raptures for this. But those
1000 editions are bound to be snapped up fast.
So get your suit on,
go out and order the thing right now. It's
retailing for around £60
per piece, but methinks that'll be peanuts
in a few year's time.
Mr Benn's not alone, of course. There are
musical boxes forthcoming
in several of their ranges, but the revolving
ident is the most iconic,
and utterly desirable. The Hound's ordered
his from Boojog Collectables
Gifts have the range listed too, and similarly, our pals at Lollipop
Animation stock a number of the Harrop pieces. All three
dealers come highly reccomended, so if they
have 'em, you
needn't be fearful of purchasing.
You know, Robert Harrop are a company at the
top of their game.
Each new tv licence they aquire and develop
seems to surpass the rest.
The Hound simply can't wait to see what's
If you've any inside information, do
please share it!
October 10th marks the start of this year's
charity auction from Pitney Bowes. As regulsr
visitors will know, this
splendid annual event involves a host of famous
celebs doodling away
on a series of envelopes which are subsequently
auctioned on eBay
in aid of the National Literacy Trust.
This year's envelopes have come from folks
as diverse as Uri Geller,
Magaret Atwood, Jo Brand, Kate Winslet and Sir
Some of the folks show fab artistic flair,
whilst others - like Erno
Rubik - are a little bit nore reserved.
Of particular note this time are the contributions
from Chris Donald,
of "Viz" fame, Gerald Scarfe, Kipper
Williams, picturebook illustrator
Rod Campbell, Axel "Gruffalo" Scheffler
and that Pitney Bowes
stalwart Raymond Briggs. Chris Donald's contribution
is a real doozy,
featuring Billy the Fish, Roger Melly, Biffa
and more. And there's a
lovely Snowman piccy from Mr Briggs...
The 2006 event kicks off on 10th October at
10.00am, and runs for
10 days. The Pitney Bowes web site will
steer you to the relevant
eBay pages - Happy bidding!
Shame on you, Ofcom.
Shame on you, Boomerang.
Shame on you for allowing one viewer's complaint
to reshape history.
As you are
probably aware, Ofcom have recently upheld a complaint
against the Boomerang channel in which a viewer
objected to having
Tom and Jerry smoking in two of their classic cartoons.
And thus, after
debate with the Turner and Boomerang the following
decision was reached:
"The licensee has subsequently proposed
scenes or references in the series where
to be condoned, acceptable, glamorised or
where it might
The report in the recent
Ofcom bulletin states that Boomerang rightly
argued about the historical context of the cartoons
and how any editing
might adversely affect the value of the animation.
Even so, they have
agreed to scour and edit any toon in their library
that glamourises or
condones smoking for children - That's not just
Tom and Jerry, folks,
but all the toons in the Hanna-Barbera back
In The Hound's book, even one cut is a cut
too far. Smoking
is not be condoned - we can all agree on that
nowadays. But hacking
into our animation history to satisfy
an overprotective modern audience
is wholly unacceptable. And poor Tom and Jerry
have suffered for
their sins in an earlier round of censorship
Remember folks, this decision was made on
the basis of just one complaint,
with no external debate or discussion. One
complaint and history gets
rewritten. It's outrageous. Doctoring historical
footage because it upsets
current thinking is totally unjustifiable.
And whilst many may think this
is just about cartoons, it's just the tip
of a ridiculous iceberg that's
surfaced in recent years. After 9/11 movies
and film posters were
doctored to "protect us" from images
of New York's Twin Towers.
Heck, even DangerMouse
was affected by the debacle.
So where do we draw the line?
In America, debate continues about the merits
of "Song of the South",
a film that Disney still keep under the counter,
fearful of a backlash.
Not showing the film is one thing. But what
if they edited it. Can you
imagine if they released a version that excised
the offensive content?
It's unthinkable. And yet in the same gasping
breathe, that very same
company is happy to edit the classic tale
of "Pecos Bill", so that we're
not encouraged by the scenes of cowboy
Double-standards abound, it seems, whilst
the debate rages on,
on both sides of the Pond. How long will it
be before someone takes
offence at product placement in Button
Moon, or Fenella's
Well, there is no debate here. The choice
is a plain as black and white.
Either show the cartoon or film as it
is, as history remembers it.
Or don't show it at all.