Raymond’s help with the making of the film

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As well as being an executive producer on the film Raymond Briggs has also been invaluable in providing reference for ‘Ethel and Ernest’. He still owns many of the objects that belonged to his parents, so being able to handle them and take photos of them was a fantastic opportunity to give authenticity to our backgrounds.

An example below shows one of the candlesticks that feature a lot in the film. There are two of them that sit either side of the mirror that Ernest brings home one day and puts up on the mantlepiece.


One of Ethel and Ernest’s candlesticks that Raymond has kept. They feature a lot in the book and also the film.

Raymond Briggs with milk bottle and jug

Raymond Briggs (March 2016) holding the type of old Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society  milk bottle that his father used to deliver when he pushed his milk cart around the streets of south west London. In Raymond’s left hand is a jug of the kind that hangs from the dresser in the kitchen (see P.49 of the book).

From a thumbnail for the book to a scene in the film

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Here is the process whereby an initial thumbnail sketch for a scene in Ethel and Ernest becomes a page in the book and eventually a scene in the film.

The thumbnail, drawn by Raymond Briggs, shows the scene that is depicted on page 61 of the book where he has been picked up by the police and brought home in a ‘black maria’ police van. He was caught “breaking and entering the golf club and stealing valuable billiard cues”. The police threaten a stint in borstal, a type of youth detention centre, if it happens again.

What the thumbnail page also shows is Raymond’s meticulous crafting of his text to go with the pictures. As executive producer on the Ethel and Ernest film Raymond kept a close eye on any additional lines of dialogue that were added to make sure they didn’t vary from his style of writing.

The third image below shows an early line test stage of the same scene as it appears in the film. This particular sequence was animated by Liane-Cho Hahn.

Borstal scene

Raymond Briggs’ sketch book showing initial ideas for the borstal scene

Borstal scene from the book

This is how that same scene ended up in the book

Borstal scene from the film

The animator’s line test for that same scene


The finished scene in the film