Ref NoBG
TitleBob Godfrey Archive
DescriptionThe archive contains records relating to Bob Godfrey's Animation work. The archive is 2D hand drawn animation.
Records include scripts, pre-production, production, post production, publicity, distribution, and exhibitions. These include scripts, storyboards, correspondence, animation cels, pencil drawings, award certificates and photographs. The archive also includes personal drawings from Bob Godfrey and photographs of Bob Godfrey, his animator and scriptwriter colleagues, and his family and friends.

The animation shorts, films, commercials, and images that we have records of the processes of include:

Angel Delight
And So to Bed
Basil and Bertha Blueberry
Brumble Brumble
Bunbury Tails
Clearasil (commercial)
Dream Doll (Collaborative work with Stan [Stanley] Haywood, scriptwriter)
Dear Margery Boobs
Diamond Oil
Dirty Rats Tales
Fatty Doggy
Fuzzy Wuzzy
Get a Grip
Great (1976 Oscar winning film, on the lives and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in Victorian England)
Henry's Cat
Hodder's Phonetix
Instant Sex
Bessett's Jelly Babies Commercials
John Gilpin
Jim Space Born elephant you'll never forget (animated musical, and never released, due to funding constraints)
Know your Europeans (collaborative work with John Halas and Joy Batchelor)
Kama Sutra Rides Again
Kevin Saves the World
Marx for Beginners
Millennium - The Musical
The Magic of Numbers
Margaret Thatcher, Where am I now? (collaborative work with Steve Bell, political cartoonist)
Noah and Nelly in SkylArk
The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal (Red Kite animation, directed by Bob Godfrey)
Oh What a Hog
Oracle Company
The P Lover
Productivity Primer
Polygamous Polonius Revisited
Revolution - La Belle France
Shakespeare Music Hall
Small Talk

1066 and all that
Unlucky Wally
Viz: The Documentary
Wrinkly Bonk
Will's World
Wicked Willie
A Zonk called Huggy

Bob Godfrey collaborated with many animators, scriptwriters and songwriters

These records are relevant for Animation, Graphic Design, Fine Art, Illustration, Film Studies, Film Production, Digital Screen Arts, Computer Graphics. As well as exploring the design process, the archive highlights how animation and image can make commentary regarding social history, including politics (including Margaret Thatcher, working class, miners' strikes, Labour and Conservative parties), sex, satire, gender equality and propaganda. It also looks at commercials and marketing through commercials such as Bassett's Jelly Babies and Clearasil

Please note, this is a ongoing catalogue in progress, and not all records have been catalogued at this time.

Located at UCA Farnham.
SubjectCaricatures and cartoons


RepositoryUniversity of the Creative Art Farnham
ExtentApproximately 447 boxes
ArrangementThe archive has been arranged in original order when known. It has been arranged in accordance to scripts, pre-production, production, post production, distribitution, publicity, exhibitions. This is unless the original arrangement has specifically stated otherwise

The Archivist has added square brackets for any additional comments that were not first stated in annotations
LocationFarnham, G193
AccessConditionsThis collection can be accessed at UCA Farnham
AdminHistoryGlossary of Animation Terms:

2D Animation - Traditional hand drawn animation

3D Animation - Computer generated animation

Animation Cel - In traditional 2D Animation the cel is the transparent celluloid on which the characters were painted/drawn on. Often made of acetate; the painted celluloid, or cel, is placed over a background and photographed, becoming one frame of the animated film. Actual celluloid (consisting of cellulose nitrate and camphor) was used during the first half of the 20th century, but since it was flammable and dimensionally unstable it was largely replaced by cellulose acetate. With the advent of computer-assisted animation production, the use of cels has been practically abandoned in major productions. Disney studios stopped using cels in 1990 when Computer Animation Production System (CAPS) replaced this element in their animation process.
Useful link:

Boiling - Movement of lines or fluctuating colour, sometimes a deliberate style but often due to inaccurate inbetweens or uneven application of colour. The process was deliberately used by Bob Godfrey for both Roobarb and Noah and Nelly in SkylArk and originated with Roobarb as a way of saving money.

Blue Sketch - A tracing that shows the path of action of an animation character after the animation is done. This is often used by 2-D layout and background artists so they can plan props and lighting effects that won't interfere with the character's movement.

Dope Sheet - (aka Exposure Sheet, X Sheet or Worksheet): Chart used by Director and Animator to time out action, identifying the numbering of the animation and giving all instructions relating to action planning, animation levels, camera moves, exposures, etc. There is one Dope Sheet for each 'shot or scene'.
The typical dope sheet is divided into five sections and is a bit longer and narrower than a sheet of A4. The sections are separated by many vertical and horizontal lines, the horizontal lines represent one frame of film while the vertical ones separate the sections:
1. The column on the far left is used by the animator to jot down notes on the path of the action and their thoughts about how the action should be visualized.
2. The next column is used to write down any dialog that may be happening in the scene. The sound is split up into its phonetic components and marked down in the frame that it appears in in the film.
3. The central section is split up into six smaller columns, each one representing one level of animation. Animation should never exceed five levels of acetate; any more and it will be too thick to see through. The numbers of the drawings are marked down in the order they are to be shot in while the sixth column is for the background.
4. The final column is for camera instructions, giving information for panning, trucking and field size.
5. Finally, at the top of the dope sheet, the animator writes in the sequence number, page number, scene number and scene name.
Useful links

Flipping - Holding a pile of drawings and flipping them repeatedly to check the animation prior to shooting a line test. Same principle as a flip book.

Key Frame - A key frame, in animation or film, is a drawing that defines the starting and ending points of animation smooth transition. In the workflow of traditional hand-drawn animation, the senior or key artist would draw the keyframes, then, after testing and approval of the rough animation, give the scene to his assistant. The assistant does the clean-up and the necessary 'inbetweens', or, in really big studios, only some breakdown which define the movement in more detail, then give the scene to his assistant, the 'inbetweener' who does the remainder.

Layout - A pencil drawing of the stage upon which the animation character will move.

Outline - A written document explaining in outline form how each act and each sequence will move a story forward.

Overlay Action - A secondary action in animation; such as the overlapping or movement of hair.
Plates: Sometimes referred to as Background Plates, these are the background elements, usually live action, to which CGI or drawn animation, will be matched.

Production Background - A painting or set that appears behind the animated characters or actors.

Rendering In 2D drawn animation - Rendering is the process of adding animated texture to artwork.

Rostrum Camera - A specially designed camera used in television production and filmmaking to animate a still picture or object. It consists of a moving lower platform on which the article to be filmed is placed, while the camera is placed above on a column. Many visual effects can be created from this simple setup although it is most often used to add interest to static objects. The camera can for example traverse across a painting, and using wipes and zooms, change a still picture into a sequence suitable for television or movie productions.

Rotoscope - (In 2D drawn animation): Rotoscope can be used to describe a technique which utilises live action 'trace-offs' as a style of animation.

Rotoscoping - (aka Tracing Off): In 2D drawn animation, Rotoscoping is the process of tracing off live action images, taking whatever is required from each frame. These 'trace-offs' can provide reference for movement or establish the points at which the animation interacts with, or matches to, the live action.

Rough - Drawing that is done quickly and expressively to get an idea on paper.

Singles (aka Ones) - Creating one image for every frame, which means 24 frames per second for film projection or 25 frames per second for UK television. There can be several reasons for choosing to work on singles: if the action is very fast, or the camera is panning, or the lip synch is crucial, or the animation is matching to live action or CG backgrounds that are moving every frame. Animating on singles takes longer but produces smoother movement.

Storyboards - A storyboard is a kind of script with images as well as words similar to a comic strip. The images allow the animation team to plan the flow of the plot and the composition of the imagery.

Trace back - Any part of a drawing that has not moved from the previous pose is traced very accurately on to the next drawing(s). This is always 'traced back' from the first drawing in the sequence to make sure it remains as steady as possible. This is done when it is more practical to trace back rather than introduce an additional held level.
Bob Godfrey was born in Horse Shoe Bend, West Maitland, Australia in 1921 (27th May as stated in a letter in the archive), but moved to England shortly after with his British parents. He grew up in the East End of London and was educated in Ilford, Leyton Art School.

Godfrey's career began in the 1930s when he started working for Lever Brothers as a graphic artist on Animaland, a Disney-styled series. However, he was first introduced to animation as a background artist while working for W.M Larkins Studio in 1950. Shortly after starting at W.M Larkins, Godfrey and others set up the Grasshoppers group, a semi-professional distribution company, which gave Godfrey the chance to direct, write and animate his first animated cartoon, The Big Parade (1952). Also, whilst working at the Larkin Studio but in his spare time, he made Watch the Birdie (1954) with Keith Learner.

It was in this year that Godfrey and Keith Learner, along with Jeff Hale (plus Nancy Hanna and Vera Linnecar later on) formed Biographic Films - a production company that thrived on producing television, advertising and public relations works from 1954 to 1965. Because Biographic thrived, this gave Bob the opportunity to make his own personal films, starting with Polygamous Polonius (1959), a tale of a one-sided courtship. Other notable productions during this period were Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit (1961) and commercials for 'Don't Forget The TV Times' and 'Esso Blue'. Do It Yourself Cartoon Kit is a humorous 'how to' film documenting the process, heartache and sheer madness of producing a cartoon.

The last two films Godfrey made at Biographic Films were The Rise and Fall of Emily Sprod (1964) - a surreal tale of a woman who pursues her creator-and Alf, Bill & Fred (1964), about the meaning of happiness between three friends: a man, dog and duckling. By this point in time, Bob Godfrey's films could be clearly identified by their unique and unconventional mix of techniques, which were used to produce fast-paced, sometimes satirical, energetic films.

Godfrey went solo in 1965, forming Bob Godfrey's Movie Emporium. This title was later shortened to Bob Godfrey Films.

Godfrey has always used various techniques in the making of his films. When he started making short films, he used the traditional cel drawn animation method. However, it was rare for an entire Godfrey film to be made this way, possibly because of the expense that it incurred. Many of Godfrey's films mix this traditional technique with cut out drawings, magazine and newspaper images, and even live action film clips. His most commonly used technique was felt markers on white animation paper. The characters would be drawn with a thick black outline and coloured with various brightly coloured markers, which gave each image a flat textured look. This technique was used in Godfrey's series work, and many of his animatics.

Bob Godfrey worked extensively with scriptwriter Stan Hayward (who, coincidentally, was also born in Australia and moved to Britain). The films they worked on included Polygamous Polonius, Alf, Bill & Fred, Henry 9 'til 5, Karma Sutra Rides Again, Dream Doll, Instant Sex, and Bio-Woman. Hayward also collaborated with Halas and Batchelor. In the 1960's and 1970's Bob Godfrey Films became a focal point for new talent, including a young Terry Gilliam, who was turned away on the grounds that he was too good!

Much of Godfrey's work has been on what it means to be 'British', but he has also been responsible for a number of children's cartoon characters, which have been as popular in the US as they have in Britain. Possibly Godfrey's most well known and enduring work was the Roobarb and Custard series (1975), which was drawn and coloured using felt tip pens, and narrated by Richard Briers. Roobarb was the wobbly green dog who always got himself into a number of surreal situations. Noah and Nelly in Skylark (1977) was cel animated, made to appear wobbly around the edges and contained more detail and background than Roobarb. The Skylark was a vessel in which the two main characters Noah and Nelly lived with a menagerie of two-headed animals: each head took great delight in disagreeing with the other. Almost a decade after Roobarb and Custard, Godfrey produced yet another successful and long running series (five seasons altogether) called Henry's Cat (1980s-early 1990s). It combined cel and felt pen techniques and has a less wobbly aesthetic than Roobarb. Each episode was written by Stan Hayward and narrated by Godfrey, and ended with a different philosophical thought.

In 1990, Godfrey teamed up with cartoonist Gray Jollife to bring 'Wicked Willie' into animated life. The Wicked Willie series is, quite simply, about a man and his 'best friend'...his willy. Next Godfrey introduced us to The Bunbury Tails/Tales, a sporting group of bunny heroes who enjoy nothing more than a game of sport - that is, when they are not fighting the evil villains the Dogfather, Anna Conda and the Krayhound Brothers. This series contained music by a number of high profile contemporary musicians, including The Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Elton John. In 1996 Godfrey embarked on the cartoon series Kevin. It is based on a children's book by Danny Postgate about a boy who innocently stumbles into dangerous situations. Bob's latest series (to date) was a number of twenty-second short films for MTV, called The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal. Based on the drawings of Jeremy Banx, the episodes show the various fatal events that happen to the unlucky Norman Spittal.

Apart from the short films and series' that characterised Bob Godfrey Films, they also produced many commercials, which helped keep the studio financially stable. It was 1955 when commercial television was born, and as far as competition went, there was very little. In the year that followed the birth of commercial television, the number of studios dramatically rose from six to around three hundred. Biographic Films made hundreds of television commercials, with Godfrey himself appearing in many for Courage Beer. Some of the many commercials that Godfrey worked on include Angel Delight, Bassett's Jelly Babies, Britvic, Clearasil, Kit Kat, Nestles 'Animal Bar', Penguin Books, Trio, and Walls 'Feast'.

Aside from the many awards Bob Godfrey has won for his films, he was also awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) in June 1986, the ASIFA Prize (1990), the Zagreb Festival's Life Achievement Award (1992) and an Honorary Doctorate (1998).

Bob Godfrey was the first British Oscar winning animator, with Great, a humorous look at the life and times of British Engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel

The British Film Institute's [BFI] biography of Bob Godfrey is available here

Show related Persons records.

DS/UK/16Bell; Steve (1951-); Cartoonist1951-
DS/UK/29Hayward; Stanley (1930-); Scriptwriter1930-
DS/UK/23Thatcher; Margaret (1925-2013); Politican1925-2013
DS/UK/34Goldner; Jeff; Animator
DS/UK/35Hayward; Stan (1930-); Writer1930-
DS/UK/21Godfrey; Bob (1921-2013); Animator1921-2013
DS/UK/49Aune; Kine (1943-present); creator and director of short and animation films1943-present
DS/UK/48Postgate; Daniel (1964-present); Freelance author, illustrator and cartoonist1964-present
DS/UK/50Norwegian Film Institute; 3 May 1955 - present3 May 1955 - present
DS/UK/51Nordisk Film & TV Fond; 1990 - present1990 - present
DS/UK/63Madsen; Frank Bruun (1962 - present); Author, illustrator, comics artist1962 - present
DS/UK/65The LEGO Group; 1932 - present1932 - present
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