Are you sitting comfortably? - Well, you won't
be by the time this
article's finished. You see, The Hound has
a gruesome tale to tell on
this most hallowed eve. He wants to tell you
about the death of
kids tv... Who-hoo-hah-hah-hah!....
...Oh, hang on. We've
done this before. Back in June last year,
The Hound reported on the slow, writhing demise
of our favourite
tv genre. Well, people it's still writhing
and choking in its final
death throes. In the last year, we've lost
a whole channel's worth
of output and watched pathetically from the
sidelines as the rest
of the genre is gobbled up by the offspring
from some twisted
licensing lab, on a high spooky hill. And there
are folks out there
who no longer wish to simply cover their ears
and will all the
bad things away. Folks like Save
Kids TV, for one.
Save Kids TV are taking on the tv channels,
Government and everyone who's anyone in the
tv debate. And they've got an
important petition for us to sign.
Here's the mission statement:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime
to ensure that UK children have access to
range of high quality, UK-made public service
television programmes that reflect the rich
of UK culture..."
They've got until Dec 20th to reach at least 8,000
if you spin down the list of folks already
signed up, you'll see some
pretty important names already on board. But
now they need more
public support to get to that signature target
in time, or their efforts
will be for nought.
So if you care in the slightest about our
favourite genre. If you want
your kids to enjoy the same wobbling whimsy
and wonder and
teatime fun and frolics that we had on offer,
as we grew up, then
get over there and sign it at once!
Poor old Sooty. And Sweep. And Soo. They appear
to be surplus to
a modern, moneyhungry licensing industry,
because current rights
owners HIT Entertainment have recently put
them up for sale.
Harry Corbett's creations have been in freefall
since ITV decided not
to recommission their tv show. So HIT
have decided to offload
them from their lineup of stars that include Bob
the Builder, Pingu,
and Thomas the
Now HIT presumably feel that the character
has run his natural course.
But you know, Sooty's surely still got a whole
lot of life left in him, if
someone's prepared to give him a bit of tlc. You
only have to look to his
contemporaries from those earlier teatime years.
A great many have
starred in very fine updated series and shows
of late. Bill & Ben
and Andy Pandy,
Noddy and Rupert Bear, even later creations like Roobarb
have all bounced back from the brink of tv
oblivion. Of course, top of
the tree is Basil Brush,
whose current BBC series has surely taken its
cue from Sooty himself. "The Basil Brush Show"
overflows with the kind
of effervescent hijinx and silliness that made Sooty's
series so unmissable. And it's a trick that Pinky
& Perky are hoping
to repeat next year, when their new off-the-wall
CG series launches.
Does the market have room for another madcap
It may just be that he's missed the boat. Sooty
might have to move away
from the field altogether, to pastures new. It
will certainly need some
clever thought and effort. Plus one has to consider
the wider issues.
You see, our old teatime favourites don't
necessarily travel well.
These are very parochial characters,
trading off a perculiarly British
past-life which can put the blocks on many
foreign tv deals. Given that
HIT is a decidedly international firm, this must
have had considerable
bearing on their decision to offload the yellow
And yet... This Hound just has
a gut feeling... Here's a bear with 50
years of showbiz in his veins. And he's non-speaking
too, which just
might help him cross a few more international
Yep. It's Children's BAFTA time once more,
and the 2007 nominees
were announced this morning. In a handful
of weeks, the folks on these
shortlists will be dusting down their
dicky-bows and shining their shoes
in preparation for the big awards ceremony
at the London Hilton.
the meantime, we get to speculate, debate and ponder
You'll find a complete list of all the BAFTA
nominees and categories here.
But detailed below are the names that matter to Toonhound:
CHARLIE AND LOLA CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
Claudia Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger
OBAN STAR RACERS
Lekes, Savin Yeatman-Eiffel (Sav! The World Productions/Jetix)
THE SECRET SHOW Christopher
O'Hare, Tony Collingwood, Andrea Tran
(Collingwood O'Hare Ent/CBeebies/CBBC)
SHAUN THE SHEEP
Julie Lockhart, Chris Sadler,
CHARLIE AND LOLA
Claudia Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger
LITTLE PRINCESS Iain
Harvey, Edward Foster (Illuminated Films/Five)
Phil Davies, Mark Baker, Neville
(Contender/Rubber Duck/Five/Nick Jr
(Granada Kids/Zinkia Ent/Cosgrove
FLUSHED AWAY gets a nomination in the "Best
AARDMAN and TIGER ASPECT are both up for "Independent
Production Company of the Year"...
The web site for THE SECRET SHOW gets
a nomination alongside
three BBC creations, in the "Interactive"
And writers Bridget Hurst and Anna Starkey
are both separately
nominated in the "Writing"
category, for their work on CHARLIE
So the names are in the hat, and from
the looks of things, this might
well be Charlie
& Lola and Tiger Aspect's year, with so many nods
going their way. The
Secret Show has also done great things for
Tony Collingwood and co. and it's particularly
nice to see the web
site getting a nomination - Complete
Control have worked
closely with COH to create a great,
immersive online experience
that deserves a shiny reward. Plus
there's "Little Princess" in the
Animation hat. Now that's a fine series
that's been too cruely
neglected here at Toonhound...
And this year's big surprise? - Well,
and The wolf
hasn't made the
cut, despite being heralded around the
globe. Maybe it's down to
timing. The film arrived just after
last year's nominations. It may
have fallen between two stools...
One might also have expected a writer's
nod for "Shaun the Sheep".
Each adventure is so skilfully told,
But all in all, this is very much the
expected mixture. And we'll find
out the winners on 25th November. Good
luck to one and all!
Everyone loves Shaun the Sheep, it seems.
series has been a big fat BBC hit, so
it's no surprise to hear that
a spin-off series is in the pipeline.
Or should that be "a spin-off of
a spin-off" because Shaun himself
was originally a secondary
character in that Wallace & Gromit
classic A Close Shave...?
Well, whatever, "Timmy" will star
the teeny, tiny cute little lamb with
the knitted wollen teddybear who appears
in "Shaun the Sheep",
and the 52 x 10mins series is going
to be Aardman's first venture
into the preschool arena. The new show
will follow his adventures
in what's best described as a famyard
nursery, with a clutch of
equally small and cute critters. And
just the like the show from
whence he's been spun, Timmy and pals
won't speak. Instead,
they'll bleat, grunt and oink through each
It's still very early days for "Timmy".
The show's only just gone
to market at MIPCOM, but CBeebies are
already onboard, and
frankly, if it's anything like as good
as its wild and woolly,
Annecy-winning predecessor, it's bound
to be another happy
Aardman hit for us to bleat about, and
it joins a busy slate that
already includes the next mouthwatering,
homebaked Wallace & Gromit
Chorion have spent the last few months revealing
their all-new Mr Men
tv series, online via their web
site and blog,
and most recently, off-line
courtesy of a big reveal in
The Mail On Sunday newspaper. And
you can see, they've made a few changes:
Yep, the characters have been redesigned for
the show. You'll find
more of the gang on that official
site. And you'll soon see that they
all talk individually now, in funny regional voices
(we're getting our
own Brit versions over here). Oh, and the
scenery's changed too.
Those fab, fat, felt-tipped originals have been replaced
For those of us weaned on the original books
and that marvellous
first Flicks series, as narrated by Arthur Lowe,
it all comes as a bit
of a shock. But before The Hound's Inbox starts
to overflow with
disgruntled feedback, bear in mind that if
you can recall that first
fab series, you are no longer the target audience
for the franchise.
And it must be said, the Mr Men have been
evolving slowly over
the years anyway. Adam Hargreaves brought
his own little tweaks
to the design of the characters when he took
up drawing duties,
and the books and animated shows have now
moved well away
from those original standalone tales in which characters
individually introduced to the world. Chorion's
have been endorsed by Adam too - so let's
all calm down, and
try not to get carried away with any pre-judgement.
Love 'em or loathe 'em, look out for the all-new
Mr Men on
our screens in January 2008...
Well, Robert Harrop have done it again. Just when
they couldn't make anything more desirable
than their Mr Benn Musical
Box, or that Ivor the Engine
edition, they've now gone
and launched an oompah-tastic, per-ab-a-dashtic,
Bandstand straight out of Trumtpton.
Fab, isn't it? - The piece stands around 35cm
high, and it's limited
to just 1000 editions, and the design team
have really gone to town
with all that detail on the roof moldings.
It's big and beautiful.
Wind it up, and out twinkles that familiar end theme
show. Oh, and if you think it looks a bit bare,
that's because it's
designed to hold a whole bunch of the Trumpton
Fire Brigade band
members, which have already been released separately.
The Bandstand doesn't come cheap. It retails for
And if you're starting out sans figures,
well, you'll need a deep wallet.
But what a
Christmas present for Trumpton fans!
That Bandstand takes centrestage is a whole
line-up of desirable
releases from the Harrop stable this Autumn/Winter.
matched by this marvellous Magic Roundabout
This is another limited edition, restricted
to just 500 pieces. And
when it's wound up, it spins and plays that
magic theme. It's fantastic,
but let down just a tad by the lack of any
figures. One can see the
practicality in that, and you can buy Florence
and others individually,
of course, but greedy old me still hankers for
a roundabout with Paul,
Basil and Rosalie perched on the horses...
The new Harrop range is available everywhere,
right now, and
The Hound is all-too-happy to steer you towards
the folks at Boojog
Collectables, who operate a very smart, fuss-free store.
Oh yes, there's big trouble at Aardman Animation
because they've just started production on
a brand new half
hour tv film starring Wallace & Gromit.
Nick Park and Bob Baker
have reteamed to write "Trouble at' Mill"
which will see inventor
Wallace and his put-upon pet turning their
West Wallaby Street
home into a bakery, complete with a windmill
on the roof, and
a "Dough-to-Door" delivery service.
And there's also a new love
interest for Wallace in the fullsome form
of Piella Bakewell.
"Trouble at' Mill" is being made
in conjuction with Aardman's old
stablemates, the BBC, and they've an enlightening
Nick Park on their news
don't feel like I'm making a film for a kid in some
suburb of America - and being told they're not
to understand a joke, or a northern saying..."
Too bloomin' right. Wallace and Gromit are
British. Clearly, Aardman's former film partnership
DreamWorks must have been very stressful. And equally
is the fact that Messrs. Park and co. seem
to be delighted to be
doing what they do best once more, unfettered
by all those
The new film is scheduled to reach our screens
in the tail-end
of next year. But whilst we're waiting we've been
regular updates on an Aardman blog, with behind
info and chatter to keep us happy. And to kick-start
there's a special video interview with Mr
Park online, right
now in which he reveals a little more detail about
this fab new project...
This time last year, The Hound was celebrating
the imminent arrival of
a very jolly milestone. He was closing in
rapidly on the big 200. That is
to say, the 200th animated series to have
entered the TvToons index.
He had his streamers and party poppers at
the ready... The cake was
in the oven...
then, fate intervened. 2007 has been a ridiculously busy year.
I've been pulled everywhichway, offline and
on, and the amount of new
additions to the various indexes have slowed
to a mere trickle of late...
But finally, twelve months later than planned.
We've done it. We've hit
that double century, courtesy of Roger Hargreaves
and those fantastic Little Miss,
who joined the site this week. And it's rather apt because,
Mr Hargreaves was a masive influence on this
dawg's formative years.
His Mr Men books were my first love when I
was five, and their
elegant simplicity encouraged me to pick up
a pen for myself and
get drawing... Why, those are just felt pen
drawings.. I could do
what he did... Easy-peasy...
But of course, that's the beauty of the Mr
Men. They are, in fact,
defiantly sophisticated. Oh for sure, my young
hand could draw a
big wobbly shape, colour it purple and call
it "Mr Greedy". But
Mr Hargreaves' original had such splendid
control to it. A perfect
smile... dinky little fingers on the tummy...
I spent a whole Summer
drawing Mr Men over and over, but they were
never as good as
those originals.... and maybe I'm not alone, given
the furore that's
been building over "The Mr Men Show"!
let's not get mired in that debate. Instead, let's celebrate
that 200th addition to the index. Of course,
there are still plenty of
missing shows - Roger Hargreaves' "Timbuctoo"
amongst them -
but you can bet the index will keep growing,
slowly but surely.
As long as they keep makin' them, Toonhound
will keep on