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Cosgrove Hall Films was a British animation studio based within Granada TV Studios, Manchester, England that once was a major producer of children's television programmes. Cosgrove Hall's programmes are still seen in over eighty countries.



Founded in 1976 by two television producers Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall who'd previously worked at Stop Frame animation studios in Manchester until it folded. Cosgrove Hall Films is an independent company that had a significant minority shareholding held by the ITV station Thames Television and who were commissioned by the station to produce animated shows, aimed primarily at children. In 1993 its' ownership later transferred to Anglia Television following the loss of Thames' ITV licence and following a series of takeovers and mergers, ownership belonged to ITV plc.

Its first series was Chorlton and the Wheelies, the lead role being named after the district of Manchester where the company was based (the other characters were placed on wheels as this made the stop-frame animation easier). The show, sold worldwide by Thames, was never shown in Israel[citation needed] after a graphic designer mistakenly put a Star of David on the front of a talking spell-book instead of a pentagram. The book spoke with a German accent and therefore was considered offensive[citation needed].

Danger Mouse was one of the studio's earliest international successes. The studio made 89 episodes between 1981 and 1992. In each one, Danger Mouse, the world's greatest secret agent, and his well-meaning but useless sidekick Penfold, outwit the evil Baron Silas Greenback and assorted baddies.

In 1983 the studio made a 75-minute film, The Wind in the Willows, based on Kenneth Grahame's classic story of the same name. It won a BAFTA award and an international Emmy award. Subsequently the studio made a 52-episode TV series based on the characters between 1984 and 1990. Legendary Stone Roses guitarist John Squire worked on this series.

Count Duckula was a spoof on the Dracula legend; its title character is the world's only vegetarian vampire. He aspires to be rich and famous. Originally he was a villain/henchman recurring in the Danger Mouse series, but got a spin-off series in 1988 that rapidly became one of Cosgrove Hall's most successful programmes. Both shows also aired on Nickelodeon in the United States during the late 1980s, and were popular in the ratings for the channel.

Truckers, the first book in The Bromeliad, was the studio's first collaboration with the best-selling author Terry Pratchett. The 1991 series follows the efforts of a group of gnomes whose spaceship crash-landed on Earth 15,000 years ago, to return home. In 1997 Cosgrove Hall films produced two series for Channel 4 based on Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music, two novels from Pratchett's Discworld series.

One of the studio's specialites is producing programmes for young children. They made 39 episodes of Noddy (1992-1999) and 52 of Bill and Ben (2001) for the BBC. Like Bill and Ben, the 52 episodes of Andy Pandy (2002) are based on the classic characters from the 1950s. Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill was involved in the early stages of this project. In Australia all of them were aired on the ABC, although Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Alias the Jester later aired on Network Ten.

The studio also made Ghosts of Albion (2003) for the BBC's first fully animated webcast. This gothic tale is set in a 19th century London swarming with demons. Website visitors can learn about the production and help to develop the story. The studio also produced Scream of the Shalka, a Doctor Who animated story for the BBC website. According to Doctor Who Magazine #371 and the BBC Doctor Who website, they have animated the missing first and fourth episodes of the Doctor Who serial The Invasion. A DVD of The Invasion including these animated episodes was released on 6 November 2006.

Other animations made by the studio include The Foxbusters, Victor and Hugo, Avenger Penguins, Jamie and the Magic Torch, Fetch The Vet and Albie. They have also produced the new episodes of Postman Pat.

In 2008 Cosgrove Hall Films, made all of its staff except for 4 people redundant and had to move to an office in Granada Studios in Manchester. Thus ending 30 years of the studio in Chorlton. The reasons are complex but it was mostly as a result of the company's owner, ITV, lack of interest in investing in Cosgrove Hall because of the broadcaster's failing financial condition. Additionally the UK animation production industry in general is struggling because of increasingly tough competition from state-subsidised production in countries such as Canada, France and the far east where the industry is growing and very buoyant.

The pop singer and musician Bernard Sumner worked for Cosgrove Hall from 1976 to 1979 as a tracer.

Series & productions

External links


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