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Toonhound presents...






      October 2007
 Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!

Robert Harrop's new releases...

    Trouble at Aardman
The return of Wallace & Gromit!

    One for Halloween
A Tall Tale, and a petition...

Sooty up for sale
Corbett creation up for grabs...
    BAFTA time
And the Children's nominees are...

    Timmy to you

    Shaun's pal gets a spin-off...

    Too strong?

   Chorion's new-look Mr Men...

    200 at last!
   A milestone is finally reached...  more »

   news archive »     interviews »      giveaways »

    One for Halloween  (31.10.07)

    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, OFCOM, the
    Government and everyone who's anyone in the current kids
    tv debate. And they've got an important petition for us to sign.
    Here's the mission statement:

    "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister
     to ensure that UK children have access to a wider
     range of high quality, UK-made public service kids'
     television programmes that reflect the rich diversity
     of UK culture..."

    They've got until Dec 20th to reach at least 8,000 signatures, and
    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!
                                   More:  Kids TV Petition  Save Kids TV


   Sooty up for sale  

    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 Tank Engine.

    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 80s/early 98s
    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 character show?
    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 fellow...

    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 borders...

    Izzy-wizzy, please, someone - get busy!...

                                                         More: HIT Entertainment

    BAFTA time  (22.10.07)

    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.
But in
    the meantime, we get to speculate, debate and ponder our preffered 

    You'll find a complete list of all the BAFTA nominees and categories
    here. But detailed below are the names that matter to Toonhound:

     Best Animation:

       Claudia Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger Aspect Prods/CBeebies/CBBC)

Michael Lekes, Savin Yeatman-Eiffel (Sav! The World Productions/Jetix)

       Christopher O'Hare, Tony Collingwood, Andrea Tran
       (Collingwood O'Hare Ent/CBeebies/CBBC)

       Julie Lockhart, Chris Sadler, Richard Goleszowski
       (Aardman Animations/CBeebies/CBBC)

     Pre-school Animation:

       Claudia Lloyd, Kitty Taylor (Tiger Aspect Prods/CBeebies)

Iain Harvey, Edward Foster (Illuminated Films/Five)

       Phil Davies, Mark Baker, Neville Astley
      (Contender/Rubber Duck/Five/Nick Jr UK)

       The Production Team
       (Granada Kids/Zinkia Ent/Cosgrove Hall Films/CiTV)

     In addition:

     FLUSHED AWAY gets a nomination in the "Best Feature" category...

     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" category...

     And writers Bridget Hurst and Anna Starkey are both separately
     nominated in the "Writing" category, for their work on CHARLIE
     AND LOLA...

     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, Peter 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, and dialogue-free..

     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!



   Timmy to you  

     Everyone loves Shaun the Sheep, it seems. Aardman's animated
     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...?

     Timmy - new from Aardman Animation

     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 curly tale...

     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 adventure...
                                                                   More: Aardman


    Too strong?  (12.10.07)

    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 as
    you can see, they've made a few changes:

    Too strong? - The new-look Mr Strong!

    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 by very
    ethnic-looking scrolls.

    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 were
    individually introduced to the world. Chorion's new changes
    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...

                                                                More: The Mr Men    


    Bandstanding   (11.10.07)

    Well, Robert Harrop have done it again. Just when you thought
    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, Musical
    Bandstand straight out of Trumtpton.

    Trumpton Musical Bandstand - from Robert Harrop Designs

    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 from the
    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. See:

    The Bandstand with figures

    The Bandstand doesn't come cheap. It retails for around £100.
    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. It's almost
    matched by this marvellous Magic Roundabout Music Box:

    Robert Harrop's Magic Roundabout Musical Box

    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.
                                 More: Robert Harrop  Boojog Collectables


    Trouble at Aardman  (03.10.07)

    Oh yes, there's big trouble at Aardman Animation this week,
    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 quote from
    Nick Park on their news page:

    "I don't feel like I'm making a film for a kid in some
    suburb of America - and being told they're not going
    to understand a joke, or a northern saying..."

    Too bloomin' right. Wallace and Gromit are quintessentially
    British. Clearly, Aardman's former film partnership with
    DreamWorks must have been very stressful. And equally clear
    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
    Hollywood demands.

    The new film is scheduled to reach our screens in the tail-end
    of next year. But whilst we're waiting we've been promised
    regular updates on an Aardman blog, with behind the scenes
    info and chatter to keep us happy. And to kick-start events,
    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...

                                                  More: Wallace & Gromit


   200 at last!  

    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...

    And 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"!

    Anyways, 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
    Till next time!

        Pooch says 'Stay tooned!'

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