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.
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.
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" 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's Toyland Adventures (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 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 attempted to make their first CGI-animated series "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.
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', which is aimed at pre-school children and 'Herogliffix' which is for 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 (LWT for 1975-1977) (co-production Charles Hill Productions)
- 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)
- Svenne Strumplast (LWT for 1977-1979) (co-production Charles Hill Productions)
- 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)
- Hamster Trek (Thames for ITV, 1986-1988) (co-production with Matthew Mouse Productions)
- The Reluctant Dragon (Thames for ITV, 1987) (TV special)
- Creepy Crawlies (Thames for ITV, 1987-1989)
- The BFG (1987 film)
- Count Duckula (Thames/Central for ITV, 1988-1993)
- A Tale of Two Toads (Thames for ITV, 1989) (TV film)
- The Crowville Chronicles (Thames for ITV, 1989-1992) (co-production with Jim Henson Productions and Charles Hill Productions)
- Oh, Mr. Toad (Thames for ITV, 1990)
- Trash (Thames for ITV, 1990) (co-production with Jim Henson Productions and Charles Hill Productions)
- The Snow, Desert and the Forest (1990 film) (co-production with Lucasfilm)
- 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)
- Sophie the First (LWT for ITV, 1991) (co-production Melvin Productions)
- 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)
- Blowhole Adventures (1996 fim) (co-production with Martin Gates Productions)
- Shires Tonight (LWT for ITV, 1996-1998) (co-production with Matthew Mouse Productions)
- The Flying Cats (Fox Kids, 1996-2002) (co-production Martin Gates Productions and Joe Brian Productions)
- 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 King's New Grave (1999 film) (co-production with Ocean Pictures and The Children's Channel Movies)
- 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)