Cosgrove Hall Films

Cosgrove Hall Films
Cosgrove Hall Films
Industry Television production and film studio
Fate Absorbed into ITV plc
Founded 1976
Defunct 2009
Headquarters Manchester, England

Cosgrove Hall Films was a British animation studio based in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, that once was a major producer of children's television programmes. Cosgrove Hall's programmes are still seen in over eighty countries. The company was wound up by then-owner, ITV plc, on 26 October 2009.[1]



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.[2] They later became co-workers at Granada Television, where they produced television graphics.[2]

Cosgrove Hall Films was founded in 1969 by two television producers, Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall, who named it Stop Frame Productions. Based in Manchester until it folded in 1975, it was an independent company that had a significant minority shareholding held by Thames Television and that was commissioned by the station to produce animated shows, aimed primarily at children. In 1993 its ownership transferred to Granada Television following the loss of Thames' ITV licence and following a series of takeovers and mergers, ownership belonged to ITV plc.

Its first series was Chorlton and the Wheelies, the lead role being named after the district of Manchester where the company was based (the other characters were placed on wheels as this made the stop-frame animation easier). The show, sold worldwide by Thames, was never shown in Israel[citation needed] after a graphic designer mistakenly put a Star of David on the front of a talking spell-book instead of a pentagram. The book spoke with a German accent and therefore was considered offensive[citation needed].

Danger Mouse was one of the studio's earliest international successes. The studio made 89 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. Legendary 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.

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.

One of the studio's specialities was producing programmes for young children. They made 39 episodes of Noddy (1992–1999) and 52 of Bill and Ben (2001) for the BBC. Like Bill and Ben, the 52 episodes of Andy Pandy (2002) are based on the classic characters from the 1950s. Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill was involved in the early stages of this project. In Australia all of them were aired on the 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 can 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 The 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 tried to make their first CGI-animated show "Theodore", but they 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, all except four staff were made redundant and moved to an office in Granada Studios in Manchester, thus ending 30 years of the studio in Chorlton. The reasons are complex but it was mostly as a result of the company's owner, ITV's, lack of interest in investing in Cosgrove Hall because of the broadcaster's failing financial condition. Additionally the UK animation production industry in general is 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 put under review by ITV plc in October 2009, and was absorbed into ITV a few months later.

The land occupied by Cosgrove Hall studios, which had sat empty for two years, was finally sold in summer 2010 to a housing development company. The intention is demolish the historic studios and build retirement flats.

Cosgrove is now Executive Producer at Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick, as was Hall until his death.

On 18 November 2011 it was announced that Mark Hall had died of cancer at the age of 75.[3]

Series & productions


  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin/The Reluctant Dragon (2002)
  • Count Duckula
  • Danger Mouse
  • Wind in the Willows


External links

Official Cosgrove Hall Films Site

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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