Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gator takes a look at...Cosgrove Hall Films/Entertainment

So, due to several delays in updates thanks to my Major film taking up all of my time, I’m hoping to make it up to you all by delivering the final 3 of my “Gator looks” series, as well as my small tribute to animation individuals and more "There be Monsters" work, once a day. 

So let’s return to the United Kingdom to take a look at another company close to home and my heart.

Cosgrove Hall Films/Cosgrove Hall Entertainment

This studio began as the former title, founded by Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall (former co-workers at Granada Television) in 1976. Setting up home in Manchester, as a subsidiary animation studio to Thames Television (and later Anglia Television and finally ITV), they produced some of their most famous series; including “Danger Mouse” and “Count Duckula.” The studio even produced a feature-length animated adaptation of “The BFG;” one of the few Dahl adaptations that the original creator approved of. Now that wasn’t an easy feat!


Of course, they weren’t all 2D productions; there were also CG productions such as “Guess with Jess” and the multi award winning “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggly-Winks.”
And don’t forget the numerous stop-motion series such as “Oakie-Doke,” “Enjie Benjy,” and “The Wind in the Willows,” which also became a short film. Though on this front, I best remember them for “The Sandman,” a stop-motion short film which is best remembered for its beautifully stylized characters and the fact that it’s nerve-shreddingly terrifying.


...I for one am not sleeping tonight.

Now this studio is without a doubt the one that’s dearest to my heart. Cosgrove Hall produced many shows which were the backbone of my childhood entertainment. “Oakie-Doke,” “Danger Mouse” and “Wind in the Willows” were some of the first animated shows I ever watched; and the BFG is one of my favorite films to date. It’s one of the main films that motivated me to become an animator in the first place.  

 But nostalgia aside, let me explain why this studio really was so great.
First of all, there’s its diversity. The studio explored all three of the major animation styles and mastered them to create incredibly entertaining content. But what amazes me is that their style is so distinct that it can easily transfer across these mediums. I can look at Danger Mouse and see Wind in the Willows, or I could look at the BFG and see a resemblance to…that nightmare fuel



Anyway, as I was saying, their style and characters are instantly recognizable whether they are drawings, puppets or computer graphics. While the characters themselves are wildly diverse in personality and appearance, you could imagine them existing in the same world, the Cosgrove Hall world, and that takes an incredible amount of talent.

I’ve also loved how their animation feels rather real and grounded. Even in Danger Mouse and Duckula, shows which thrived on being ridiculous (you can’t make a vegetarian vampire duck serious; trust me you’re not going to be seeing “The Duck Knight Rises” any time soon). 


All the characters were animated with a genuine weight to them. The BFG felt genuinely large and lumbering, the animals of the Wind in the Willows felt small but grand in their mannerisms. It gave these vast, fantastical worlds a real sense of believability, and it made them much more convincing when I watched them as a child, even a little now when I know the mechanics. That shows you’re doing your job right. 


I guess that’s why Sandman still comes across as creepy to this day, because he leaps around with a very realistic presence, you could imagine that large blue vulture leaping around a child’s room. Take a look and judge for yourself. You’re welcome for introducing you to an incredible piece of work, but apologies in advance for the night terrors.

However, sadly, all good things must come to an end, and in 2008 the majority of the studios staff were made redundant, Cosgrove Hall finally closing its doors in 2009. All that was left was the legacy of fantastic animation and timeless characters they had left behind…

…UNTIL 2011!


Yes I wasn’t going to end on a sad note was I? In 2011 Cosgrove Hall Entertainment rose up from the ashes like a glorious animated phoenix. The studio is currently working on two brand new productions titled “Pip!” and “HeroGliffix,” and once again Brian Cosgrove is at the helm, this time with Simon Hall (Mark’s son) at his side after Mark Halls passing. Here’s to a bright future for the newly revived studio which brought us so much wonderful animation!


Next time, we’ll be traveling across the pond once again (this is like country table tennis) to see a studio that was also a huge part of my childhood.

…now all I have to do is try and get some rest without thinking about that Sand…


...oh dear

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