06 December 2018, The Tablet

Lucy Lethbridge on animators and their characters in the BBC's Secrets of British Animation

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Television

Lucy Lethbridge on animators and their characters in the BBC's Secrets of British Animation
 

Secrets of British Animation
BBC4

What an eccentric and exhilarating treat to watch Secrets of British Animation (BBC4, 2 December). Ostensibly about the rich tradition of animated films in Britain since the turn of the twentieth century, it turned out to be a glorious celebration of ingenuity, resourcefulness and sheer bloody- minded patience.

If ever a documentary could inspire its viewers to buy a garden shed, then this was it. All you need to get started is some glue, scissors, plasticine, a camera of course, some magic markers, a few old bits and bobs, a boot with a hole in, and a few dead leaves.

The motto of British animation has been that any old thing really can become something else, can tell a very particular kind of visual story. Its budgetary constraints are the very source of its creativity. And while in the United States, Walt Disney productions were filling the big screen with cartoon spectaculars, in this country, artists were concentrating on the small screen, producing startlingly inventive films for TV, for advertising, wartime and post-war government propaganda.

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