Important Visitors from the Court of King Rollo
A new series from King Rollo Films Ltd. appears on July 18th, starring Victor and Maria, two friends created by Carme Sole Vendrell and Roc Almirall. Victor is a dad-sized white bear (with purple hat and green striped tie) who entertains, advises and accompanies Maria everywhere, as any ordinary teddy would. The stories are simple and happy, based on everyday situations, and the pictures are clear, bright and colourful, a successful combination already proven in David McKee’s King Rollo adventures.
We took the photographs on this page way back in 1981 when we visited David McKee and his partners at their animation studios. It was early days for King Rollo Films and at that time Victor and Maria (above) were figures on a shelf, promise of films to come. Towser (below right) – the first 3D version of Tony Ross’s cheerful dog – had recently joined them and ideas for his film adventures were just beginning.
The five minute films will be networked on Channel 3 at 4.15 each weekday for five weeks. They have already had much acclaim internationally and have been bought by Austria, Belgium, Finland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, West Germany, Italy, Holland, Norway, New Zealand and USA for Cable TV.
Clive Juster, King Rollo Films’ editor is cheerful at last now the films are on TV as the production team have been working on them for a very long time – each movement is created by physically moving parts of Victor’s and Maria’s bodies on a background and filming each new position. They have also been very particular about the use of sound and use it surprisingly dramatically: there is incidental music and a voiceover telling the story but Clive Juster was conscientious about ordinary noises such as footsteps approaching and disappearing, birds squeaking and objects being put down on the floor, which is unusual in short films for children and certainly adds extra interest. (Clive used to work for the BBC, putting sound tracks on films designed for foreign countries so has had a lot of experience in thinking about noise – breaking cabbages in half was one of his favourites!) This extra use of sound is more expensive but well worth the increased expense. Another unusual aspect of the films is the appearance of characters in each episode who have nothing to do with the plot and nothing to say – a furtive, sunglassed, long-coated, mustachioed man hangs about in the background fiddling with a camera or painting a landscape, and middle-aged woman takes an energetic dog for a walk. They are put in just for fun, so that they will be anticipated at the beginning of each new adventure.
The series does have a definite European feel about it: the characters are cleverly clothed and put in backgrounds which would appear in any country and Victor and Maria play together as children all over Europe do. The books and TV series are sure to be at least as popular as King Rollo.
Blackie publish 8 titles for £2.50 in hardback and 75p in paperback.
As a footnote, the team are now working on a new series of films with Tony Ross, starring Towser, a scruffy but inventive and amiable dog, which should hit our screens in another year or two.
Adventures at Cockleshell Bay
More adventures from Robin and Rosie Cockle down in Cockleshell Bay start in September, networked on ITV in their children’s programmes slots at 12.00, repeated at 4.00. Brian Truman has written and narrated the TV programmes and is author of the books, published in paperback by Marks and Spencer and the four stories are sold in omnibus form by Thames Methuen in hardback with colour photographs from the television series. Thames Methuen also publish Stories from Cockleshell Bay.
A new drama series for young people of 6 sixty-minute episodes starts in September on BBC 1 at 8.00, dealing with the lives of two boys, Johnny Jarvis and Alan Lipton, who leave comprehensive school at 15 and face the problems of the adult world in its state of economic depression. Johnny Jarvis does manage to find work as a coachbuilder but Alan has less luck and has to take his place in the dole queue. It’s a tough story of survival, with lighter moments of relaxation with friends, written by Nigel Williams, author playwright and director of Arena, and produced by Guy Slater, who produced The Cleopatras. A novelisation of the script will be published as a Puffin Plus on August 25th.
There is news that production has started on two major classic serials for television, to be shown in the Autumn: a new version of Jane Eyre starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke as Rochester and Jane; Mansfield Park starring Anna Massey as Mrs Norris, Bernard Hepton as Sir Thomas Bertram and Angela Morris as his wife, with Sylvesta Le Touzel as Fanny Price and Nicholas Farrel as Edmund; and Bleak House will start being filmed later this year for television air time late in 1984.
If you’ve waited for a paperback version of the highly acclaimed, very funny film, Gregory’s Girl, it’s out now, published by Fontana for £1.00, written by Gerard Cole. So is Arrow’s paperback version of Superman III, written by William Kotzwinkle (also wrote the book of ET: The Extraterrestrial) from Alexander Salkind’s new movie.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Sparrow Books are publishing “a collection of best-loved stories”, Listen with Mother, in August, in association with the BBC. And, of course, each story begins with “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”.