The BBC’s highly regarded Animation Unit in Bristol is to open a new studio in order to facilitate the production of a half-hour animation special called Robbie, which will cost an estimated US$2 million.
Commissioned by BBC1 controller Peter Salmon and co-funded by BBC Worldwide, the film is intended to launch its title character as a mascot for Comic Relief, the BBC-backed charity. Robbie will be produced and directed by Richard Goleszowski (Golly) and Jacqueline White, who produced the BBC/Aardman animation co-production Rex the Runt. Star voices for the special include Steve Coogan, Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse and Jane Horrocks-all household names in the U.K.
The new venture will create around 20 jobs, although BBC head of animation Colin Rose is keen to play down any adverse implications for independent companies (which have partnered Bristol on films such as The Wrong Trousers, The Old Lady and the Pigeon and Flatworld). ‘It would be wrong to attach too much significance to our setting up our own studio to make this film,’ he says. ‘It is an efficient way of maximizing the flow of revenue to Comic Relief.’
That said, Rose believes the occasional BBC production can only help to energize the mixed economy of the U.K. animation scene, and will sit comfortably with local creative collaborations.’One of our key strengths will continue to be our relationship with a range of individual independent creators and production companies large and small.’