Cosgrove Hall Films

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Cosgrove Hall Films
Industry Television production and film studio
Fate Absorbed into ITV plc
Successors Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment, Ltd.
Founded 1976
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Manchester, England
Key people Brian Cosgrove
Mark Hall (died 2011)[1]
Website chfentertainment.com

Cosgrove Hall Films was a British animation studio founded by Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall; its headquarters was in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester. Cosgrove Hall was once a major producer of children's television and animated programmes; Cosgrove Hall's programmes are still seen in over eighty countries. The company was wound down by its then owner, ITV plc, on 26 October 2009.[2]

History[edit]

Stop Frame Productions[edit]

Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall first met while both were students at Manchester College of Art and Design, which is now part of Manchester Metropolitan University.[3] They later became co-workers at Granada Television, where they produced television graphics.[3]

Hall left his job in 1969 and founded his own production company, Stop Frame Productions.[3] Cosgrove joined the company shortly after its establishment.[3] Their first projects, for Stop Frame, included public service films and television commercials for such companies as the TVTimes.[3] From 1971 to 1972, the company released the animated series, The Magic Ball, which they created in a renovated shed located in the yard of Cosgrove's father-in-law.[3] Hall directed two animated productions for Stop Frame, Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo, which was released in 1972, and the television series, Noddy, which aired in 1975.[3] The company also produced opening credits and graphics for children's series such as Rainbow in 1972.[3]

Cosgrove Hall Films[edit]

Stop Frame Productions ceased production, and was closed, in 1975.[3] However, Cosgrove and Hall were able to find new work in animation, specifically due to their earlier work on the 1972 series, Rainbow. The producer of Rainbow, Thames Television, an ITV company, created a new, subsidiary, animation studio called Cosgrove Hall Films.[3] Thames hired and commissioned Cosgrove and Hall as lead animators to create new animated programs, for this new studio, based on their earlier work with Rainbow. Thames Television also hired John Hambley as Cosgrove Hall Films' first executive producer.[3]

In 1993 the ownership of Cosgrove Hall was transferred to Anglia Television, following the loss of Thames' ITV licence and, following a series of takeovers and mergers, ownership finally belonged to ITV plc.

Its first series was Chorlton and the Wheelies, the lead role being named after the suburb of Manchester where the company was based (the other characters were placed on wheels as this made the stop-frame animation easier).

Danger Mouse was one of the studio's earliest international successes. The studio made 161 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. All the music and songs for the feature and series were written by Keith Hopwood, late of Herman's Hermits and Malcolm Rowe. The 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.

In 1987 the studio produced a full length feature of Roald Dahl's "The BFG (film)" music and songs by Keith Hopwood & Malcom Rowe. 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. In 1999, they produced IDs for Cartoon Network when the channel's European outlet could use some new IDs.

One of the studio's specialities was 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) were based on the classic characters from the 1950s. Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill was involved in the early stages of this project, although the music and songs were written by Keith Hopwood and Phil Bush. In Australia all of them were aired on 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 could 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. In 2006 they animated the missing first and fourth episodes of the Doctor Who serial The Invasion for a DVD release.

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. They had also tried to make their first CGI-animated show "Theodore", but this failed, due to ITV's absorbing of the company.

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

In 2008, shortly after Granada Television became the only surviving franchisee of Independent Television in England and Wales, all except four staff were made redundant, by ITV, and moved 'in house' to the Granada Television Studios in Manchester. This ended 30 years of the studio in Chorlton. The reasons are complex but it was mostly as a result of the company's owner, ITV Granada's, lack of interest in investing in Cosgrove Hall. A financial review decided that the company was no longer viable. UK animation production industry is, in general, 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 company was again put under review by ITV plc in October 2009, being absorbed, and ceasing to exist, a few months later.

The land occupied by Cosgrove Hall's studios, in Albany Road, Chorlton, adjacent to the town's telephone exchange, which had stood empty for two years, was finally sold in summer 2010 to a housing development company. The intention was to demolish the historic studios and build retirement flats.[citation needed]

During 2012 the studios were finally demolished as part of the above development. Urban explorers who visited the site during the demolition found and photographed some models and backgrounds used in previous productions. Coincidentally, during April of that year it was announced that during the previous summer, prior to the death of Mark Hall, he and Brian Cosgrove had pitched the idea of resurrecting the brand to possible investors.

Cosgrove is now Executive Producer at Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment, as was Hall until his death. On 18 November 2011, it was announced that Mark Hall had died of cancer at the age of 75.[1] Now, Brian Cosgrove, along with Mark's son Simon Hall, as Managing Director and the financial backing of, entrepreneur Francis Fitzpatrick, are actively working on two new production series, 'Pip', which will be aimed at pre-school children and 'Herogliffix' for older children. Meanwhile, across the industry, efforts continue to persuade the British government to follow the example of other states in better supporting their home animation industry.

Series & productions[edit]

DVDs[edit]

  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin/The Reluctant Dragon (2002)
  • Chorlton and the Wheelies - The Complete Collection
  • Count Duckula - The Complete Collection
  • Danger Mouse - The Complete Collection
  • The Wind in the Willows

References[edit]

External links[edit]