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                                                                     September 2005
Extra! Extra! - Read all the Toon News!
Give it away now
Everyone wins at Toonhound...   More...

 Briggs and the bomb
  When the Wind Blows on DVD...

 A lot of flobbadob
  Silas Hawkins scotches a rumour...

 Pushing the envelope

  Pitney Bowes' envelope auction...

 Hamster on target

  Bounty Hamster goes global...

 Thunder in the air

  Thunderbirds lives...?

 When there was an interview...
  The Hound talks to director
  Jason Tammemagi 

    Strike me
     Striker's returning to The Sun...

    Holy smoke

     A Popetown giveaway!...

    Cracking comic

    Wallace & Gromit get their
    own comic...

    Mules and Mills

    Muffin the Mule and Summerton
    Mill are here...

   SIG on ITV
    Captain Scarlet returns...

     last month's news »         news archive »        interviews »

   Briggs and the bomb 

    This week sees When the Wind Blows finally coming to DVD here in
    the UK, courtesy of Channel 4 video. This cautionary tale was adapted from
    Raymond Briggs' extraordinary picture book by TVC producer John Coates
    and director Jimmy Murakami in 1986, and its stark message rings just as
    true today as it did back at the height of the Cold War.

     When the Wind Blows on DVD

    For those who need reminding, the book and film tell the story of a nuclear
    holocaust, as experienced through the eyes of an ordinary, elderly couple.
    Jim and Hilda Bloggs ride out the storm in their home, as they follow the pitiful
    guidelines presented to them in an inept government guide. But their plucky
    spirit won't see them through this Mother of All Wars, and slowly, inexorably
    they succumb to the effects of the Fall Out, right before our eyes... 

    The film features a clever blend of techniques. The camera stalks around a
    three-dimensional house which is rich with colour at the start of the film,
    before the bomb blasts it into a charred and twisted ruin. Hilda escapes the
    oncoming storm via a series of flighty, free-flowing daydreams, and when the
    bomb itself goes off, we witness the minutia of destruction via a collection of
    extraordinary penciled scenes. Sir John Mills and Dame Peggy Ashcroft voice
    the leads splendidly. Mills brings with him the gravitas of all those war films
    in which he starred in his heyday. But this is a different kind of war altogether,
    fought at a distance, by an unseen enemy, and no amount of camaraderie or
    steadfastness can defeat it...

Channel 4's DVD features an additional "making of", shot at the time of
    the film's release, as well as an up-to-date and informative little interview
    with Raymond Briggs, filmed recently at his home.

    It beggar's belief to think that the official guidelines presented in this
    film could ever have been put to paper. But they were, and "When the
    Wind Blows" highlights this appalling inadequacy supremely...
Gentleman Briggs

   A lot of flobbadob  (24.09.05)

    Silas Hawkins has been in touch this week. Silas has provided all the
    voices for the rather excellent Summerton Mill series. And a top show it
    is, too, deserving to free itself from its "Tikkabilla" strand, and get its
    very own stand-alone series...

    But more important than Dan and Fluffa and the gang is The Hound's
    rather clumsy faux pas. You see, Silas is the son of the voice maestro
    himself, Peter "Pugwash" Hawkins, and in my infinite wisdom I unfortunately
    referred to him as being the "late" Mr. Hawkins on this site. I'm not sure
    if it was the lateness of the hour, or simply too much haste, but there
    you go. The error slipped in. And Silas would like me to remind one and
    all that his father is most definitely still with us!

    Peter actually retired from the acting profession some 13 years ago,
    due to declining health, but as Silas says:

   "He is very much alive and taking pleasure in my involvement
    in Summerton Mill and other animations..."

    Those "other animations" including the magnificently odd Rogue Farm,
    which was trumpeted here back in March...

     The Flowerpot Men

    But Silas' work with The Hound wasn't yet done, because, suitably
    dogged, he has proceeded to scotch a rather irritating rumour concerning
    that potty duo, Bill and Ben. It concerns the farty origins of that word
    "flobbadob". Now it has been widely reported over the years that Hilda
    Brabben, the show's creator, coined the term after hearing her young
    brothers break wind in the bath. Indeed, the story first - er - "broke"
    back in eighties, and was repeated around the time of Hilda's death
    in 2002. But just like those foolish "Pugwash" rumours which still float
    around in the ether of pub conversation, that "fart in a bath" story is
    simply a load of hot air. Here's Silas for you:

    "The word 'flobbadob' is the word 'flowerpot' translated into
    'Oddle-poddle' the language my father invented for Bill and
    Ben, the Flowerpot Men. For each episode of the show he
    would be given a script in English which he would then
    translate into Oddle-Poddle.

    e.g. in the episode 'Scarecrow' there occurred the line 'What
    do you think of that?- gloves as well as a hat!', which became
    'Woddle oo teep a dop? Gloob a woddle a hop!'

    The 'fart in the bath' story was trotted out last year in an episode
    of Stephen Fry's otherwise admirable quiz show 'Q.I.',featuring
    John Sessions and Clive Anderson. It (the story) first appeared
    some 20 years ago in a newspaper article to which my father
    immediately wrote a rebuttal, and which was obviously ferreted
    out by some BBC researcher for 'Q.I.' It may be 'Quite Interesting'
    but, in this case, it just ain't true..."

     So there you have it,
folks, another urban myth has been officially put to
     bed. Although, in its place is already another. You see, this chap has
     obviously had too much time on his hands. If he's to be believed, Summerton
     Mill is, in fact, acting as socialist propaganda for innocent kids.

     That's right! - The turning of that there mill wheel actually represents the
     wheel of change, breaking the shackles of capitalism and taking us to a
     political idyll where we can all be friends, sing propagandic songs and
     work the collective together in harmony...

    Or maybe not.

Summerton Mill


   Pushing the envelope 

    The 2005 Pitney Bowes ‘Pushing the Envelope’ charity auction will soon
    be upon us again. This is the second year for this top event in which the public
    can bid on a fab selection of envelopes doodled on by the stars.

    Raymond Briggs and Alex Scheffler contribute to "Pushing the Envelope"

    This year's feast of celebrity contributors includes the likes of Sir Ian McKellen,
    Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, Kate Winslet, Sir Steve Redgrave, Jenny Agutter,
    Shirley Bassey, Jacqueline Wilson and - yes, my luvs - Bruce Forsyth. The
    organisers believe they'll have over 50 celebrity enevelopes up for auction
    duting the event. Of particular note to us toon fans however, are the those
    featuring scribbles from Raymond Briggs, Kipper Williams, Daniel Clowes
    (Ghost World), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Rod Campbell and Tony Hart.
    Of course, these aren't really "scribbles" at all, but miniature works of art,
    perfect for your living room wall...

    The donated envelopes will be auctioned on eBay.co.uk starting on 3rd October
    and running for 10 days. In the UK, all funds raised will be donated to the National
    Literacy Trust, and you can find out more about the event and its contributors
    on the official event site...

                                                                  More: Pushing the Envelope

   Hamster on target  (20.09.05)

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the universe...

    News has just come in regarding young Cassie and her purple partner
    Marion, the erstwhile "Bounty Hamster". You remember the show, right?
    This fab little creation sprung forth from the twisted minds of Alan Gilbey
    and Dave Freedman, when they were still Peafur-ing, and each 11min
    episode had them and their creative team shoehorning in a black hole's
    worth of Sci-Fi references for our delight. And what's more, the series
    actually accrued itself a BAFTA nomination, despite CiTV's best efforts
    to hide the hamster in its schedules.

     Marion and Cassie can't believe the good news!

    Well, apparently, co-producers Silver Fox Films have just signed an
    international distribution deal with Target Entertainment, for this zappy,
    happy production, and they've plans to showcase the toon at this year's
    Mipcom Junior in October. Which means folks around the world may
    soon get the chance to oggle the contents of Marion's purple pouches
    for themselves, instead of relying on the word-of-mouth from us Brits.
    What's more, sneaking into the middle of the Silver Fox press release
    is a reference to Target's plans for the show here in the UK. And they
    include the release of a DVD in the near future. And that's galactic news
    indeed, because our spaced-out duo are long overdue their own shiny,
    happy, circular thing!...

                                                                  More: Silver Fox Films

   Thunder in the air 

    Are Thunderbirds "go", again? - Gerry Anderson seems to think so.

    Last night, Channel4 broadcast "Zippy and George's Puppet Legends",
    an extension on the familiar "Top 100" format in which the two puppet
    stars from "Rainbow" counted down through their favourite tv puppet
    creations. And there, at number 7 on the list were those "Thunderbirds".
    In and around the banter, we were presented with a brief clip of
    Gerry in his Pinewood production office, in which he stated, very
    decisively, that he was in discussions to bring International Rescue  
    back to our television screens...

    So once more, the Anderson Rumour Mill cranks in to gear. Gerry seems
    to make a habit of these grandiose statements. When the "Thunderbirds"
    feature film was finally announced, a couple of years back, Gerry took to
    our screens to tell us that a live-action "Captain Scarlet" film was on its
    way. Though that has yet to materialize, his oft-mooted CGI series
    finally did take off, of course, with spectacular results for all to see.

     Scott Tracy in that puppet demo...

    So what of this latest tasty tidbit? Well, this would certainly be one heck
    of a turnaround for Carlton Intl (the current TV rights holders). You see, not
    so long ago - just before the feature film launched and nose-dived - they
    commissioned a rather talented team of folks to produce a fantastic
    "Thunderbirds" trailer reel, featuring brand new puppets, and just a dash
    of CGI. The results were fantastic. Here was International Rescue, back
    on our screens in puppet form! - But dear old Carlton got cold feet.
    They were worried about the cost and the appeal, so they quietly
    ditched their plans...

    ...And now there's Gerry's announcement, which suggests they've finally
    had a change of heart. And what's more, it dovetails very neatly with
    earlier rumours, reported here, regarding Gerry's plans for another
    new show. Which is all very exciting indeed, if tinged with just a hint
    of regret. You see, Gerry's plans would surely involve a CGI "Thunderbirds",
    given the success of "Scarlet". And yes, that would be absoloutely FAB.
    Gosh, it's a salivating thought. But it would also mean that the very
    brave new puppet format tested out by Carlton will, presumably, never
    see the light of day.

    But - hey - here's to a CGI "Thunderbirds". We're counting down
    already, Gerry...

Captain Scarlet


   Strike me 

   Well, it's official. "Striker", the wild and wonderful CG soccer strip is indeed
   returning to a daily paper (see Striking Back). And in a twist that can only
   have come straight out of Warbury itself, that paper appears to be "The Sun".
   That's right, "Striker" is returning to the pages of the very same newspaper
   it came from. A paper that reportedly gave creator Pete Nash a very rough
   time when he branched out into his ill-fated comics venture...

   How bizarre! - How ridiculous! - How very Warbury!

   Presumably, this means "The Sun" will be pushing aside their shallow
   replacement strip "The Premiership", to make way for the Warriors?
   You know, you really must applaude the efforts of Striker 3D to turn around
   a very difficult suggestion, even if it feels like they're stepping back in
   to the jaws of a lion.

   One of the pleasures about the arrival of that weekly "Striker" comic was
   the detailing of the behind-the-scenes antics in the 3D offices, as described
   by Pete Nash himself in his weekly editorial. All the ups, the downs, the highs
   and lows of his publishing venture were spelt out for the readership, as they
   happened. And then folks could participate at length, in healthy debates
   at the official web site. The lack of funds. Circulation problems. Sponsorship
   problems. Pete shared it all, fearlessly, and it gave him a unique connection
   with the readership. Hells bells, you felt for the guy, you really did!

   "Nashy" had an ongoing gripe with "The Sun" regarding their yellow card
    behaviour. The animosity was almost tangible. And now we have this
    incredible 180. Oh, hell. The Striker 3D team have had such a bumpy ride 
   over the last couple of years, they must be desperate for some stability
   - and sanity - in their lives. Hopefully now, they'll find it, with their old
   national newspaper embracing them once more...

Striker 3D


   Holy smoke 

   Remember "Popetown"? - This was the controversial show commissioned and
   produced by BBC3 back in 2003/4, before being pulled from the schedules and
   sentenced to a protracted period in Cartoon Limbo. Well, now Revolver
   Entertainment have released the toon from its animated purgatory, as a
   two-disc DVD set, so we can finally get to see what all the fuss was about.

    Toonhound's Popetown Giveaway!

   For those who need reminding, "Popetown" is/was directed by Phil Ox, and
   featured an all-star comedy voice cast, including the likes of Matt Lucas,
   Bob Mortimer, Ruby Wax, Kevin Eldon, Simon Greenall, Morwenna Banks
   and even supermodel, Jerry Hall. The series was set in a Catholic world where
   money, power and corruption are just another part of the daily routine. Every
   Cardinal, Bishop and Nun seems to be up to something unholy, and the
   religious lampoonery is topped by the presence of a gun-toting, pogo-sticking,
   hide-and-seek playing Pope!

   Consequently, this one ruffled a few feathers. Indeed, as The Hound previously
   reported, the ensuing media frenzy encouraged some 2,000 disgruntled Catholics
   to put their names to a petition urging the BBC not to screen the series.
   And they duly obliged...

   So now it's here at last for our viewing pleasure. Or not, depending on your
   thinking. Personally, The Hound finds "Popetown" rather funny. And
   beneath that Papal veil is a show which seems to have genuine understanding,
   and even a certain respect, for the religion its lampooning. The show begins in
   a live-action R.E. lesson, whereupon the irreligious thoughts and musings of
   one of the pupils are brought in to animated life... "Popetown" is simply a
   naughty choirboy. Indeed, the show has only picked up a "12" certificate
   here in the UK. Which suggests that much of this controversy has simply
   been a storm in a Catholic wine cup. Previously, that American bastion
   of bad taste "South Park" has savaged Jesus, the Devil, and more with
   much greater vehemence.
   Well, that's The Hound's  opinion, at least. You may view it differently.
   The point is, now you can, courtesy of the folks at Revolver. They've handed
   over 5 "Popetown" DVDs for The Hound to give away!...

                                         More: Popetown Giveaway  Popetown

   Cracking comic 

   On September 29th, Titan Magazines will be launching an all-new Wallace
   & Gromit comic here in the UK. Called, appropriately, "Wallace & Gromit Comic",
   the new publication will hit stores every four weeks, and we're promised - quote -
   "madcap inventions, amazing adventures and a whole host of new loveable
   characters!" in amongst the strips, articles and activities. John Freeman has
   had a dandy little chat with the comic's editor, Steve White, on his rather 
   excellent Down the Tubes web site...

      Wallace & Gromit Comic - new from Titan Magazines!

   Meanwhile, Titan's move tie-ins in rather smartly with the arrival of
   "Curse of the Were-Rabbit", which hits our cinema screens in October.
   Or at least, it does if you're in the UK. But for some inexcusable reason,
   this hugely-anticipated movie actually received its World Premiere last
   night in Australia. What's more, the film is going straight into general
   release down there!

   Now call me a Whinging Pom - but strewth! - you don't get much more
   British than Wallace and Gromit. Surely we Brits should have been at the
   top of the list for this here premiere and release? It just goes to show how
   the Movers and Shakers have seized our dynamic duo for their own means.

   Oh well. Whilst we wait with baited breath for the film, why not drop by
   Toonhound's Cracking Collectibles section and reminisce about the Good Old
   Days, when Wallace and his doggy pal ruled British screens, and High Streets.

   And I think that's quite enough patriotism for now...

Down the Tubes  W&G Magazine


   Mules and Mills 

   Joining "Captain Scarlet" on tv this week are two new BBC toons for our
   delight. Or rather, one brand new toon, and one decidedly older creation.

     Muffin the Mule

   The elder is Muffin the Mule here, at last, in his animated guise. He's
   been brought to life sans strings by Maverick Entertainment, via Blue Fish
   Cartoons, in a simple little show for preschoolers. Muffin and friends now
   cavort around the countryside in 2D form, solving problems and sorting out 
   trouble. As has been mentioned here previously, September is very much
   a Muffin month, with the new show being supported by an anniversary
   DVD of the original, and Adrienne Hasler's coincidental - and excellent -
   new book for you to buy. "Muffin the Mule" is screening daily at 9.00am,
   on BBC2.
      Summerton Mill

   Now, away over the hill from Muffin's caravan you'll find "Summerton Mill" which
   is airing daily as part of CBBC's "Tikkabilla". And this one looks and sounds
   most intriguing. Pete Bryden has been in touch to tell us about the series
   he created with Ed Cookson, and to direct us to the tie-in web site. Strange
   things happen at this old mill, when it rains on the hills, and the waterwheel
   begins to turn again... Magic happens!... "Summerton Mill" has been brought
   to our screens by Pete and Ed and their small, but dedicated team in Banbury,
   working in the spirit of SmallFilms and Bura & Hardwick. The series narrator is
   Silas Hawkins, son of the great Peter Hawkins, of Pugwash fame, and it
   sounds like this could be a little gem of a show; something to savour, indeed...

                                   More:  Maverick Entertainment
  Summerton Mill


   SIG on ITV 

    Great to see Gerry Anderson's all-new Captain Scarlet back on our screens.
    ITV screened the first episode of series two for our enjoyment last Saturday
    (2nd). Sadly, though, it's been shoehorned into the middle of "Ministry of
    Mayhem" once again, which means more merciless introductory madness,
    commercial breaks and chopped off credits. But at least the broadcast
    time is fixed at 10.55am...

     CGI Captain Scarlet - on DVD soon!

    And better still is news that the entire first series will soon be available
    to own on DVD, which means we can thrill to this first class show sans
    interruptions of any kind. Captain Scarlet - Series 1 hits stores in October.
    Look beyond it's shoddy broadcast slot, and you'll find the shiny new
    "Captain Scarlet" is an action-packed treat. Its CGI delights are supported
    by some superior storytelling, and some splendid character development.
    In times past, our tv schedules were awash with this kind of series. But
    now they're oh-so-few and far between, and boy, do we miss 'em.
    It's great to see Scarlet flying the flag again...

Captain Scarlet


   Give it away now  

    Judging by the number of entries received, I'd say last month's War Game
    Giveaway was a hit with visitors. Hopefully, our five lucky winners are cracking
    open their DVDs, kicking back and indulging in that fabulous little film, even
    now, as you read this. It's something you can get used to, isn't it?

    Well, I hope so, because it looks like there'll be more of the same coming soon.
    You see, your faithful Hound here, is regularly contacted by folks in the PR
    game, eager to promote their latest news and releases. And an off-shoot of
    of that has been prize offers. That's right, DVDs and their ilk to give away
    to you and yours, gratis. Now I've always shied away from that area,
    fearful of falling into some foul coroprate quagmire. But Revelation Films
    were so keen and accommodating with last month's experiment, and you
    folks so responsive, that I've decided to open the door wide...

    Which is why you'll see regular Giveaways here at Toonhound in the future.
    Indeed, right now, I'm putting together a BOOM-BOOMING new prize-draw
    guaranteed to get your fur in a fizz. And I've a CRACKING notion for October
    too. So now there's even more reason for you to keep checking back here...

    Till next time!    

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

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