Animator Andy McPherson

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Our top team of animators includes Andy McPherson , who has been working on the Ethel and Ernest production from his home in Wales. Like many other members of the crew Andy comes from a traditional 2D background where all the characters were drawn on paper. This was the first time that  he had used TVPaint and it didn’t take long at all before he was producing top notch scenes by drawing directly onto Wacom Cintiq tablets rather than a light box.

In the past Andy has worked on The Illusionist feature film, for Joanna Quinn’s Beryl Productions (Dreams and Desires/Family Ties), and for John Coates’ TVC studio (The Tale of Two Bad Mice and Johnny Town mouse, Wind in the Willows, The Willows in Winter, The Bear).

Andy McPherson

John Coates memorial reel

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A compilation of scenes from John Coates’ life are now available on Youtube.

John and his company TVC were the driving force behind getting the Ethel and Ernest film started. The project was very dear to his heart and he invested

a large amount of his time and money into its pre-production development.

This reel was screened at the party after John Coates’ memorial held in London on November 22nd 2012.

It features clips from most of the classic films made by John’s TVC animation studio, and includes photos and footage of the studio collected together by his work colleagues and friends.

John Coates celebrating 40 years of the TVC studio

John Coates celebrating 40 years of the TVC studio


Ethel and Ernest development work…

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Here is one of Loraine Mashall’s colour backgrounds that has been produced as part of the continuing Ethel and Ernest development work.

Loraine won an Emmy for her work on TVC’s production of Willows in Winter.

She has also been involved with all the Raymond Briggs’ productions that TVC did, and was art director on their animated production of Raymond’s Father Christmas book.

Background example_Ethel and Ernest development work_2012

Background example_Ethel and Ernest development work_2012

Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman voted third most memorable festive TV show

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The UK newspaper The Telegraph carries a report today (Ist Dec 2010) on the nation’s viewing habits at Christmas.

A survey, commissioned by TV channel Gold, gives details of  what the public say are their most memorable festive TV programmes.

“In third place with 25 per cent was another animation, Raymond Briggs’  The Snowman in 1982, featuring Aled Jones singing Walking in the Air”

Actually Aled Jones didn’t sing ‘Walking in the Air’ in the film. The correct credit should go to Peter Auty, who went on to become a well known opera singer.  The mix up occurs because Aled Jones sang on the recording of ‘Walking in the Air’ that reached number 5 in the UK charts in 1985.

For Christmas 2010 The Snowman will be broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on Friday 24 December at 1:20pm. Since its first broadcast in 1982 the film has been broadcast on Channel 4 every year except one.

The Sun newspaper ran an interview with Raymond (Dec 23rd 2010) with the headline “I Hate Christmas” – although it turns out it is the run up to Christmas that Raymond is objecting to rather than Christmas day itself !

The Snowman was directed by Diane Jackson (1941 – 1992)


The Producers

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Producer – John Coates

(Since this entry was made we are sorry to have to report that John passed away on September 16th 2012 aged 84. Camilla Deakin and Lupus films have now taken over as the producer and production company on the film.)

No other animation producer has had such a long and successful track record as John Coates, whose studio TV Cartoons is one of the world’s best known animation studios. TV Cartoons launched in 1957 to make animated commercials and went on to produce The Beatles TV series and the Yellow Submarine movie during the 1960s. The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, The Wind in the Willows, and The Willows in Winter followed, along with many other award winning and Oscar nominated films and TV specials such as The Snowman , Father Christmas, The Bear , When the Wind Blows and Famous Fred.  ( For The Snowman website visit )

See a video of John Coates presenting his Desert Island Flicks at Encounters Short Film Festival, Nov 2009


Producer – Camilla Deakin

Formerly the Commissioning Editor for Animation at Channel 4, Camilla Deakin formed her own animation production company Lupus Films* in 2002. Camilla has produced both animation and live-action shows for the BBC, Channel 4, Five, and ITV, as well as Executive Producing a number of short films for Channel 4 and the UK Film Council. She was Executive Producer of a 52 part CGI re-make of children’s classic The Pinky and Perky Show for the BBC and France 3 and her most recent series is pre-school show The Hive, which will be shown on Disney channels in over 150 territories worldwide during 2011/2012.  Lupus Films is currently in production on a sequel to Raymond Briggs’ classic animation The Snowman. It will be aired at Christmas 2012 on the 30th anniversary of Channel 4.

The Director

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The Director – Roger Mainwood

Roger Mainwood is one of the UK’s leading animation directors and has worked on most of TV Cartoons’ award winning animations, from Raymond Briggs’ classics The Snowman, When the Wind Blows, and Father Christmas to the Prix Jeunesse winning Granpa. He directed Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice and Johnny Town Mouse and was animation director on The Tailor of Gloucester, The Wind in the Willows, and Willows in Winter. He has also directed episodes of the comedy series Stressed Eric for the BBC, and recent work includes directing the pre-school series Meg and Mog for ITV and animation director on Little Princess for Five, both of which were nominated for Children’s BAFTAs.

Raymond Briggs and TVC

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Raymond Briggs–john-coates-763486.html

Above is a link to an article from the Independent newspaper (Dec 2007) called ‘How we Met : Raymond Briggs and John Coates’.

It describes the relationship built up between Raymond Briggs and the London animation studio TVC which was founded in 1957.  John Coates, head of TVC has produced four adaptations of Raymond’s books.

The Snowman (1982) – dir. Dianne Jackson

When the Wind Blows (1986) – dir. Jimmy T Mirukami

Father Christmas (1991) – dir. Dave Unwin

The Bear (1998) – dir. Hilary Audus

John Coates and Dave Unwin

Above is John (on the right) with Dave Unwin, the director of the TV adaptation of Raymond Briggs’  ‘Father Christmas’ . The photo was taken at John’s 80th birthday celebration held at one of his favourite London restaurants, L’Etoile in Charlotte Street. The TVC studio was also situated in Charlotte Street during the 1980s and 90s, and most of the Raymond Briggs adaptations were created during that period.

John Coates and Anne V Coates_Annecy 2007

Here is John with his sister, Anne V Coates, at the Annecy Animation Film Festival in 2007.  John was celebrating TVC’s 50th anniversary.  In the same year John’s sister, who is an Oscar winning film editor, was awarded BAFTA’s highest honour , the Academy Fellowship. (photo: Loraine Marshall)

ETHEL and ERNEST – The Movie



British illustrator and author Raymond Briggs’ masterwork “Ethel and Ernest” is an intimate, hilarious, and moving graphic novel of his parents’ life. A film adaptation for cinema release is currently (July 2010) in a pre-production phase. It will be produced by TVCartoons, the London animation studio headed by John Coates (The Yellow Submarine, The Snowman, Granpa, Father Christmas, Famous Fred, When the Wind Blows, Wind in the Willows, The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends)

The film adaptation is an engaging and affectionate depiction of two ordinary Londoners, Ethel and Ernest, living through extraordinary events and immense social change.

Their marriage spans some of the most defining moments of the 20th century. From their first chance encounter in 1929, we see through their eyes the build up to World War 2, the trials of the war years themselves, the joy of VE day, the post war austerity of the1950s, the coming of modern conveniences like the telephone, fridge, and TV, through to men landing on the moon in the 1960s.  Their deaths, within months of each other, in 1971, are depicted without sentimentality. Yet it is an emotional blow for the viewer, who has grown to know and love these two very different characters.

Both Ethel and Ernest are from working class backgrounds, but whereas Ethel’s greatest fear is to be thought of as “common”, Ernest is proud of his roots and seeks justice for the working man through his socialist ideals.  These differences cause much of the comic friction in the film, with Ernest often being left dumbstruck by Ethel’s withering replies.

Through a series of domestic vignettes, a vivid sense of life in Britain over four decades is conjured up, interspersed with scenes of strong character-led comedy.

Starting in the 1930s, we follow the couple as they decide to get married and Ethel leaves her employment as a Lady’s Maid and Ernest takes up his appointment as a milkman.  Ethel who is 5 years older than Ernest longs for a family and at the age of 38 she is overjoyed when she finds that she is pregnant. Ethel gives birth to a baby boy, and Raymond Briggs becomes their only and much loved son.

The war years show how Raymond had to be evacuated to relatives in Dorset, and how Ernest helps with the war effort as a part time fireman. We see scenes of the London Blitz, hear Winston Churchill’s “Finest Hour” speech, and watch as Raymond and Ernest come under attack from German “doodlebug” bombs.

Ration-book Britain finds Ethel and Ernest comically bickering about whose Government, Tory or Labour, is doing the best. Meanwhile young Raymond has earned himself a place in the local grammar school, and this brings out Ethel’s snobbery in exchanges she has with her nosey neighbour Mrs Bennett. When Raymond decides to leave the grammar school early and go to art school both his parents are horrified.

The film is enlivened by hit songs from each decade that will spark fond memories for many, while entrancing those hearing them for the first time. But Ethel and Ernest is more than a chance to indulge in nostalgia. Its universal appeal comes from exploring big events through the detail of ordinary people’s lives, and the story of their love will touch the heart of everyone who sees it.

ETHEL and ERNEST _ The Movie.

Producers: John Coates and Camilla Deakin.

(Since this entry was made we are sorry to have to report that John Coates passed away on September 16th 2012 aged 84. Camilla Deakin and Lupus films have now taken over as the producer and production company on the film.)

Executive Producers: Robbie Little and Raymond Briggs

Director: Roger Mainwood