Halas and Batchelor

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Halas and Batchelor was a British animation company founded by husband and wife John Halas and Joy Batchelor. Halas was a Hungarian émigré to the United Kingdom. The company had studios in London and Cainscross, in the Stroud District of Gloucestershire.[1]


From 1936 Halas ran a small animation unit that created commercials for theatrical distribution. After independent careers in animation, Halas and Joy Batchelor began working together in 1938. Batchelor responded to Halas's advertisement for an assistant, and they founded Halas and Batchelor in 1940 to create war information and propaganda films.[2][3][4] Approximately 70 films were created for the Ministry of Information, the War Office, and the Admiralty over the course of World War II; most of these were shorts intended to improve morale or spur on increased contributions to the war effort, such as Dustbin Parade, about recycling, and Filling the Gap, about gardening. Halas and Batchelor also created a series of anti-fascist cartoons intended for viewing in the Middle East; starring an Arab boy named Abu, who was "enticed and misguided by the forces of Hitler and Mussolini."[5][6] The heavy workload (at one point the studios were creating a minute-long short every three weeks) and minimal budgets meant that simple animations with economically driven stories were the norm.[5][7]

HB's first feature film Handling Ships (1945) was the first-ever British animated feature. After the war, they continued making short films while Animal Farm (1954) was being made, erroneously considered the first British animated feature.[4] The studio grew from a small unit to a proper animation company, with several different British locations. Its best-known animation series were Foo Foo (1959–60), Popeye the Sailor (1960–62), DoDo, The Kid from Outer Space (1965–70) and The Lone Ranger (1966–69). Halas and Batchelor also produced Snip and Snap (1960) and the animated music video for the song "Love Is All" from Roger Glover's album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast (1976). The company also made the short satire Automania 2000, nominated for an Oscar in 1964.[8]

As well as short films, the studio made a few feature films, such as Ruddigore (1967). The company was sold to Tyne Tees Television in the early 1970s, although Halas and Batchelor themselves broke away from this association after a few years.[9] Most of the 2,000 films now form part of The Halas and Batchelor Collection, founded in 1996. This collection was part of a donation by the couple's daughter to the British Film Institute in 2010.[10]


  1. ^ Davies, Lorna (March 2017). "Animation in Stroud: Halas & Batchelor". Good on Paper: 8–9.
  2. ^ "Biographies". Halas&Batchelor Collection. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  3. ^ "History". Halas&Batchelor Collection. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  4. ^ a b Brian McFarlane The Encyclopedia of British Film, London: Methuen/BFI, 2003, p.48
  5. ^ a b Daniel J. Leab, Peter Davison (2007). Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of Animal Farm. Penn State Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-271-02978-1. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  6. ^ "Movie Toons - Handling Ships". toonhoound.com. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  7. ^ Jeff Lenburg (2006). Who's who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television's Award-winning and Legendary Animators. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 24–25. ISBN 1-55783-671-X. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  8. ^ 'Automania 2000: watch the Oscar-nominated Halas and Batchelor animation', The Guardian (22 June 2015), [1]
  9. ^ Paul Wells "Halas, John (1912-1995) and Batchelor, Joy (1914-1991)", BFI screenonline reproduced from Paul Wells Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors
  10. ^ Mark Brown "BFI gets Halas & Batchelor animation archive", The Guardian, 3 December 2010

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