Saturday, 22 January 2011

The life and underdocumented death of Cosgrove Hall

Founded in 1976, Cosgrove Hall arguably took over from Halas & Batchelor as the popular face of British animation, a role which has since been taken on by Aardman. The studio is best-known for Danger Mouse and its spin-off Duckula - certainly these two appear to have garnered the most international attention compared to the rest of the company's library.

In 2009 it was reported that the studio was on the brink of closure and, sure enough, it folded soon afterwards. A lot of people seemed to miss the news - this 2010 article honouring Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall states that "Cosgrove Hall is still home to many talented animators".

Andy Fanton, who pitched a pilot starring his Carroty Kid character to the studio, wrote a blog post on the closure:

Personally speaking, I find this very sad indeed. I had the very good fortune to work with some of the talented folk at Cosgrove Hall, when I was developing my Carrotty Kid idea for TV. The people there were lovely and enthusiastic, and really wanted to produce great cartoons despite being starved of cash at nearly every turn. The studio spent much of it’s final years as a ‘studio-for-hire’, producing work on behalf of other companies, but the desire to try and return to what they did best, in producing their own, original shows was clearly and passionately evident. It’s just a pity that they weren’t given any real chance to do so.

So, a sad and ignoble end to one of the country’s finest animation houses, and another kick in the gut to a home-grown animation industry which was already on the floor. Surely our kids deserve better than nothing but imports and a diet of reality TV talent shows? I’d like to think so, and if you feel the same why not join up and support the Save Kids’ TV campaign?

Enthusiasts of the studio's earlier work had been showing concern for some time. The fansite Cosgrove Hall Ate My Brain (which hasn't been updated since 2006, but is still worth a read) comments:
[Avenger Penguins] just wasn't as lovably quirky as previous CH cartoons, even though it was more technically accomplished. This may have something to do with CH's parent company Thames losing its broadcasting licence in the early 1990s, leaving CH in the poo. Their eventual rescuing by Pearson TV and Anglia seemed to lead not only to a name change (Cosgrove Hall Productions to Cosgrove Hall Films), but also a change in direction, as the shows started to become more "mainstream" and less silly. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I miss Brian Trueman, I dunno.
Will the studio's latter works such as Roger to the Rescue and Fifi and the Flowertots become as fondly-remembered as the likes of Danger Mouse and Duckula? Only time will tell.
Anyone interested in this studio should read this online archive of a 1986 issue of Animator magazine, dedicated almost entirely to Cosgrove Hall.


  1. Sadly, Mark Hall, one of the original founders of award-winning Manchester-based animation house Cosgrove Hall; passed away on Thursday November 17th 2011. Mark was an inspiration to all those who worked with him and brought much joy through the animations he produced with Brian Cosgrove.

  2. Bev
    Long time no see, hope you and phil are well. Listened with great fondness to David Jasons lame program on Radio 4 yesterday. So many memories of yourselves, gerry andrews, andy roper, jackie cockle, jean and ben, john scott, curries and spag bols with Roberta god bless her.Wonderful,wonderful times.