Mark Hall, Winter Davies and Brian Cosgrove. Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

Mark Hall, Winter Davies and Brian Cosgrove. Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall, animators and founders of Cosgrove Hall first met whilst studying at Manchester Regional College of Art and Design (now MMU), Hall was studying illustration and Cosgrove was studying graphic design. They were later reunited whilst working at the ITV company Granada, where they both produced graphics for a range of television programmes including local News, documentaries and quiz shows. Due to the success of his first animated cartoon The Canary, Brian Cosgrove went on to direct and produce the animated series The Magic Ball (1971-72), and Mark Hall was brought on as background animator. In 1971 Mark Hall, followed by his friend Brian Cosgrove left Granada to form their own independent company Stop Frame Animations.

Stop Frame Animations made commercials, short films and series throughout the early seventies including, Sally and Jake for Rainbow (1972) and Noddy (1974). In pursuit of more creative freedom both Cosgrove and Hall decided to leave Stop Frame Productions behind, they detached themselves from Granada Television for the time being and signed a deal with Thames Television.

Cosgrove Hall Films, was established on the 1st January 1976 in Manchester. The founders resisted moving their studios to London, John Hambley joined the team as Chief Executive, handling all the necessary updates to Thames Television leaving Brian and Mark to focus on film production, their real passion. The studios were established on Albany Road in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy. Over the next quarter of a century, the studio produced some of the best popular children’s shows specialising in both hand drawn, and stop motion animation.

Brian Trueman, Terry Scott, Dangermouse, David Jason and Edward Kelsey. Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

Brian Trueman, Terry Scott, Dangermouse, David Jason and Edward Kelsey. Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

Cosgrove Hall Films produced quality animation by bringing together some of the biggest talents, puppet-makers, actors and animators in the UK to create some of the best loved characters in children’s animation, Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Chorlton and the Wheelies. The studio brought characters from popular childhood fiction to life in animations such as Roald Dahl's The BFG (1989), Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows (1983), and Terry Prachett’s Truckers (1992). They also revived and adapted animations of Noddy, Postman Pat and Bill and Ben.

Dangermouse was Cosgrove Hall Films’s biggest success and achieved international fame and its own spin off Count Duckula. According to Brian Cosgrove the show ran for one hundred and sixty one episodes achieving phenomenal viewing figures of 24 million.

Mark Hall, Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

Mark Hall, Image courtesy of Brian Cosgrove

“To see a sequence of drawings that you have produced - and you can remember every pencil line you made - to see them filmed and coloured and matched with a voice track - to see you have created something, up there on the screen, that is, to all intents alive - that makes all the madness worthwhile.” - Brian Cosgrove, A Cosgrove Hall Story (2018)

Mark Hall sadly passed away in 2011, he is remembered fondly by all those that worked with him including Brian Cosgrove who has been instrumental in helping bring this archive to Waterside Arts Centre so that the public can once again enjoy the puppets, the animations and the stories behind the people who brought them to life.