Phil Davies (above) was the guest of the first London Animation Club of 2017. He is the producer of Peppa Pig (2004 onwards) and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (2009 onwards). Below are the key points I learnt at this club:
Martin (above) first met Phil at the Curzon in Soho and as a father himself, Martin enjoys watching Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.
A pitch for Peppa Pig was put in place for the funding of the show.
The first sketch of Peppa as shown on the screen above was drawn in 2000. Subsequent sketches show her jumping up and down. The concept of the show follows on from the idea of anthropomorphic animals such as Mickey Mouse and Arthur.
Peppa Pig has a family due to Phil and his team noticing that many pre-school children’s programmes such as Noddy did not feature any families.
The company that produces Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly is called Astley Baker Davies Ltd. It consists of the writers, producers and directors Neville Astley and Mark Baker and the producer Phil.
Phil explained the concept of Cartoon Forum where ideas for animation are pitched to several television stations to distribute them to.
Phil showed the presentation that pitched the concept of Peppa Pig. He wanted to create a show that appealed to both young children and parents alike. He also showed a trailer for the show that was made in 2002, two years before the show officially aired.
Next Phil showed a slide with several ideas for the show. The Halloween episode is more about dressing up than trick-or-treating.
Before Peppa Pig, Astley Baker Davies made a short film called The Hill Farm (1989) and another called Jolly Roger (1999). Both have an abstract style that formed the basis of the styles of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. The Big Knights (2001) has the closest style in resemblance to Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.
The Hill Farm
The Big Knights Series 1: Episode 1
Examples of Peppa Pig merchandise include Wellington boots, toys and cake mixes.
Peppa Pig received high audience ratings on Channel 5 and Nick Jr. After the first series of Peppa Pig aired, Astley Barker Davies came up with the idea for Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. The company wanted to make Ben and Holly gender-neutral as they did with Peppa Pig. Phil then showed the trailer for Little Kingdom (its original title). This was followed by slides of a map of the kingdom and character and background designs.
After the first half of the club I showed the club members the cover that I designed for my university tutor Mark Collington’s book Animation in Context (below). The design on the cover is actually a production still for my BA final project Looming Marvellous: Living with Asperger Syndrome that I based on an experience where my mum laughed at the way I was dressed but I did not find it funny and it eventually developed into the closing shot of my film.
In the second half Phil answered members’ questions. Before he made animations, he was a freelance photographer in the 1970s. In the 1980s he ran the animation unit at Middlesex Polytechnic.
According to Phil a producer has to be a practical and pragmatic person.
Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly are produced in CelAction. A joint character is created in a vector programme such as Adobe Illustrator and is built up in CelAction. Phil helped to develop the software.
At the end of the show Phil showed an upcoming episode of Peppa Pig where Peppa visits the Queen in London with her school. The animation in this episode has developed significantly since the first series. This is shown by the smoother animation and more detailed scenes and backgrounds.
Kate Jessop will be hosting the club in Marc but the guest for February is yet to be announced.