Cosgrove Hall Films
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|Fate||Absorbed into ITV plc; back catalogue owned by FremantleMedia|
|Successor||Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment, Ltd.|
Mark Hall (1936-2011)
|Parent||Thames Television (1976-1993)|
Anglia Television (1994-2000)
Granada plc (2000-2004)
ITV plc (2004-2009)
Cosgrove Hall Films (also known as Cosgrove Hall Productions) 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. It was mainly known for its series Danger Mouse and Count Duckula.
Stop Frame Productions
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. They later became co-workers at Granada Television, where they produced television graphics.
Hall left his job in 1969 and founded his own production company, Stop Frame Productions. Cosgrove joined the company shortly after its establishment. Their first projects, for Stop Frame, included public service films and television commercials for such companies as the TVTimes. 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. 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. The company also produced opening credits and graphics for children's series such as Rainbow in 1972.
Cosgrove Hall Films
Stop Frame Productions ceased production, and was closed, in 1975. 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. 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. 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). The pop singer and musician Bernard Sumner worked for Cosgrove Hall from 1976 to 1979 as a tracer.
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 1989, the studio produced a full-length feature based on Roald Dahl's The BFG.
Truckers, the first book in The Bromeliad, was the studio's first collaboration with the best-selling author Terry Pratchett. The 1992 series follows the efforts of a group of gnomes, whose spaceship crash-landed on Earth 15,000 years ago, to return home. 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. 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 specialties was producing programmes for young children, such as Noddy's Toyland Adventures, Bill and Ben, and Andy Pandy for the BBC. The latter two series were based on classic characters from the 1950s. In the mid-2000s, Cosgrove Hall worked on a new version of Postman Pat. The studio also animated Ghosts of Albion, the BBC's first fully animated webcast. Website visitors could learn about the production and help to develop the story. Cosgrove Hall 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.
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 Cosgrove Hall moved 'in house' to the Granada Television Studios in Manchester, ending 30 years of the studio in Chorlton. The company's owner, ITV Granada, was not very interested in investing in Cosgrove Hall, and a financial review decided that the company was no longer viable. The UK animation production industry was struggling due to increasingly tough competition from state-subsidised production in other countries where the industry was 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. Cosgrove Hall was developing Theodore, a CGI-animated series, when ITV absorbed the company. 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. 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.
Brian Cosgrove is now executive producer at CHF Entertainment, as was Hall until his untimely death. On 18 November 2011, it was announced that Mark Hall had died of cancer at the age of 75. Now, CHF Entertainment are actively working on a number of television series, including Pip Ahoy!, which is aimed at pre-school children and HeroGliffix, which is aimed at older children.
Series and films
- The Magic Ball (Granada for ITV, 1971-1972)
- Rainbow (Thames for ITV, 1972-1976) (animated sequences)
- Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo (Granada for ITV, 1972)
- Sally and Jake (Thames for ITV, 1973-1974)
- Noddy (Thames for ITV, 1975)
- SuperTed (1975) (pilot)
- Chorlton and the Wheelies (Thames for ITV, 1976-1979)
- Jamie and the Magic Torch (Thames for ITV, 1976-1980)
- Grandma Bricks of Swallow Street (Thames for ITV, 1977-1978)
- The Kenny Everett Video Show (Thames for ITV, 1978-1981) (Captain Kremmen shorts)
- The Talking Parcel (Thames for ITV, 1978) (TV film)
- Cinderella (Thames for ITV, 1979) (TV special)
- Cockleshell Bay (Thames for ITV, 1980–1986)
- The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Thames for ITV, 1981) (TV special)
- Danger Mouse (Thames for ITV, 1981-1992)
- The Wind in the Willows (Thames for ITV, 1983) (TV film)
- The Wind in the Willows (Thames for ITV, 1984-1987)
- Alias the Jester (Thames for ITV, 1985-1986)
- The Reluctant Dragon (Thames for ITV, 1987) (TV special)
- Creepy Crawlies (ITV, 1987-1989)
- Count Duckula (Thames/Central for ITV, 1987-1989)
- A Tale of Two Toads (Thames for ITV, 1989) (TV film)
- The BFG (1989 film)
- Trash (Nickelodeon, 1989) (pilot)
- The Crowville Chronicles (Nickelodeon, 1989) (pilot)
- Oh, Mr. Toad (Thames for ITV, 1990)
- The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship (Thames for ITV, 1990) (TV special)
- The Sandman (Channel 4, 1991) (short film)
- Victor & Hugo: Bunglers in Crime (Thames for ITV, 1991-1992)
- Truckers (Thames for ITV, 1992)
- Noddy's Toyland Adventures (Children's BBC, 1992-2000)
- On Christmas Eve (1992) (TV special) (co-production with Grasshopper Productions)
- Avenger Penguins (Granada/Anglia for ITV, 1993–1994)
- Opéra imaginaire (1993) ("Pêcheurs de perles" short)
- Peter and the Wolf (1995 film) (animation)
- Oakie Doke (Children's BBC, 1995-1996)
- Fantomcat (Anglia for ITV, 1995-1996)
- Sooty's Amazing Adventures (Meridian for ITV, 1996-1997)
- Brambly Hedge (Episodes 1-6) (Children's BBC, 1996-1999) (co-production with HIT Entertainment)
- Welcome to the Discworld (1996) (short film) (co-production with Carrington Productions International)
- The Story of Odysseus (1996) (pilot) (co-production with Carrington Productions International)
- Soul Music (Channel 4, 1997) (co-production with Carrington Productions International)
- Wyrd Sisters (Channel 4, 1997) (co-production with Carrington Productions International)
- Enid Blyton's Enchanted Lands (Children's BBC, 1997-1998)
- The Animal Shelf (ITV, 1997–2000)
- Father Christmas and the Missing Reindeer (1998) (TV special) (co-production with Millimages)
- Rocky and the Dodos (Central for ITV, 1998)
- Bob the Builder (series 1) (CBBC, 1998) (co-production with Hot Animation and HIT Entertainment)
- Rotten Ralph (CBBC, 1998-2001)
- Lavender Castle (CITV, 1999-2000) (co-production with Carrington Productions International and Gerry Anderson Productions)
- The Foxbusters (Anglia for CITV, 1999-2000)
- The Tales of Little Grey Rabbit (HTV for CITV, 2000)
- Fetch the Vet (LWT for CITV, 2000-2001)
- Vampires, Pirates & Aliens (CITV, 2000) (co-production with Millimages)
- Bill and Ben (CBBC/CBeebies remake, 2001-2002)
- Blink (2001) (short film)
- Andy Pandy (CBeebies remake, 2002)
- Engie Benjy (CITV, 2002-2004)
- Albie (CITV, 2002-2004)
- Little Robots (CBeebies, 2002-2003) (co-production with Create TV and Film Limited)
- Postman Pat (CBeebies remake, 2003–2006)
- Ghosts of Albion (BBCi, 2003) (webcast)
- Pocoyo (CITV, 2005-2009) (co-production with Zinkia Entertainment)
- Blue Dog Blues (2005) (short film)
- Fifi and the Flowertots (Nick Jr. 2005-2009)
- Doctor Who (2003 - 2007) (Scream of the Shalka webcast, an animated reconstruction of The Invasion and The Infinite Quest.)
- The Likeaballs (CBBC, 2006) (produced by Cosgrove House and Animated Adventures & Pictures)
- Rupert Bear, Follow the Magic... (Milkshake!, 2006-2008)
- Roary the Racing Car (Nick Jr. 2007-2009)
- Eddie Retractorhead (Nickelodeon, 2008)
- Rocket Boy and Toro (CBBC, 2008)
- Postman Pat: Special Delivery Service (CBeebies, 2008)
- "Danger Mouse co-creator Mark Hall dies". BBC News. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "ITV upheaval threatens Toytown home of Noddy: Staff at an". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Graham, James (18 June 2010). "Cosgrove Hall quietly shut down". Thebusinessdesk.com. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Hayward, Anthony (18 November 2011). "Mark Hall obituary, Animator whose TV cartoon series created with his friend Brian Cosgrove included Danger Mouse and The Wind in the Willows". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
- Some text modified from the Animation Gallery of the National Media Museum