Person NameGodfrey; Bob (1921-2013); Animator
ActivityBob 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 he 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 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
WSAD/12/1/3Information newsletter, Issue No.3
WSAD/12/1/14Information newsletter, Issue No.14
WSADWest Surrey College of Art and Design Institutional Archive
BG/MW/4/2Scene 2
BG/JU/3/6Production Meetings
BG/JB/2/1/1/6Cup Final detailed storyboard
BG/JU/3/3/2Coloured in drawing of a band, annotated with Hold 200 Frs (200 Frames)
BG/JU/3/2/2Dance sequence from the Jumbo -Line Test, 1-8 (number 5 missing)
BG/MW/4Episode one [Production]
BG/MW/4/1Scene 1
BG/MW/4/3Scene 3
BG/JU/1Scripts and storyboard development
BG/ elephant you'll never forget
BG/MW/3/1Letter from Claire Kitson, from Channel 4, to Bob Godfrey
BG/MW/3/2Letter from Claire Kitson, from Channel 4, to Bob Godfrey
BG/MW/3Channel 4 Letters [Pre-production]
BG/MW/2/1The Seven sell-offs of Thatch, draft poem/lyrics
BG/MW/2/2Script for episode one
BG/MW/2/3Script for episode two
BG/MW/2/4Script for episode three
BG/MW/2/5Script for episode four
BG/MW/2/6Script for episode five
BG/MW/1Research material [Preproduction]
BG/MW/2/7Storyboard for episode one
BG/DMBDear Margery Boobs
BG/MW/5/16Scene 16
BG/MW/5Episode two [Production]
BG/KW/7/1/2Reference material
BG/DDDream Doll
BG/BTBunbury Tails
BG/KNKnow your Europeans
BG/HC/1Series 1
BG/ASAnd So To Bed
BG/JB/2/1/1/4Cup Final brief storyboard
BG/JB/2/2/2Character design
BG/JB/1/2/1Artwork and drawings
BG/JB/1/1/2Reference material
BG/KW/1/4Correspondence between Bob Godfrey Films and Bates, Wells and Braithwaite
BG/JB/1Eat to the beat
BG/JB/1/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/JB/2/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/JB/2/1/1/1Script and schedule meeting handout
BG/JB/2/2/1/3Scene 3
BG/JB/2/1/1/5Cup Final Highlights brief storyboard
BG/JB/2/1/1/7Cup Final Highlights detailed storyboard
BG/JB/2Cup Final
BG/MW/2Scripts and story development, Episodes 1-5 [Pre-production]
BG/JB/2/1/1/2Contact report regarding scripts
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BG/JB/2/2/1/9Scene 9
BG/JB/2/2/1/13Scene 2 Highlights
BG/JB/2/2/1/16Scene 5 Highlights
BG/JB/2/1/1/8Cup Final developed storyboard
BG/JB/2/2/1/6Scene 6
BG/JB/2/2/1/11Scene 11
BG/JB/2/1/1/9Cup Final Highlights scene storyboard
BG/JB/2/2/4Sound sheets and recordings
BG/ADAngel Delight
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BG/JB/2/2/1/7Scene 7
BG/JB/2/2/1/1Scene 1
BG/JB/2/2/3New pack design
BG/JB/2/2/1/15Scene 4 Highlights
BG/JB/2/2/1/8Scene 8
BG/JB/2/2/1/10Scene 10
BG/JB/2/2/1/19Unsequenced artwork and drawings
BG/JB/2/2/1/2Scene 2
BG/KWKevin Saves the World
BG/JB/2/2/1Scene artwork and drawings
BG/JB/2/2/1/12Scene 1 Highlights
BG/KW/1/5Correspondence with Daniel Postgate
BG/KW/8Episode 7: Kevin and the Recipe Book
BG/KW/7/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/3/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/3/1/2Reference material
BG/KW/14/1/1Script and Story Development
BG/KW/6/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/4/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/10/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/11/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/12/1/1Script and Story Development
BG/KW/5/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/13/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/9/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/15/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/9/1/2Reference material
BG/KW/8/1/1Script and story development
BG/KW/3Episode 2: Kevin and the Computer Game
BG/KW/2/1/1Scripts and story development
BG/KW/2/1/2Reference material
BG/KW/1/6Correspondence (general)
BG/KW/12Episode 11: Kevin and the Baked Beanstalk
BG/KW/14Episode 13: Kevin and the Vikings
BG/KW/1/2Correspondence regarding sales
BG/KW/1/1Correspondence regarding production costings
BG/KW/1/3Correspondence regarding sales distribution with 'Monster'
BG/KW/7Episode 6: Kevin's Christmas Treat
BG/KW/15Kevin and the 7 Deadly Drop-Ins
BG/KW/9Episode 8: Kevin and the Great Inventor
BG/KW/2Episode 1: Kevin Saves the World
BG/KW/6Episode 5: Kevin and the Boogie Woogie Bogeyman
BG/KW/10Episode 9: Kevin and the Ghosts
BG/KW/11Episode 10: Kevin and the Quiz Show
BG/KW/8/2/1Scene Artwork and drawings
BG/KW/4Episode 3: Kevin and the Big Lizard
BG/KW/2/2/1Scene artwork and drawings
BG/KW/7/1/3Concept artwork
BG/KW/10/2/1Scene artwork and drawings
BG/KW/2/2/1/12Scene 12
BG/KW/10/2/1/1Scene 1
BG/KW/2/2/1/15Scene 15
BG/KW/10/1/3Concept artwork
BG/KW/10/1/2Reference material
BG/KW/10/2/1/2Scene 2
BG/KW/2/2/1/1Scene 1
BG/KW/8/1/2Character stylings
BG/KW/9/1/3Concept artwork
BG/KW/11/1/2Concept artwork
BG/KW/2/2/1/18Scene 18
BG/KW/2/2/1/3Scene 3
BG/KW/2/2/1/21Scene 21
BG/KW/2/2/1/9Scene 9
BG/KW/2/2/1/27Scene 28
BG/KW/2/2/1/10Scene 10
BG/KW/2/2/1/4Scene 4/4A
BG/KW/2/2/1/19Scene 19/19A
BG/KW/2/2/1/6Scene 6
BG/KW/2/2/1/28Scene 29
BG/KW/2/2/1/17Scene 17
BG/KW/2/2/1/22Scene 22/22B
BG/KW/2/2/1/5Scene 5
BG/KW/2/2/1/26Scene 27
BG/KW/2/2/1/25Scene 26
BG/KW/2/2/1/23Scene 23/24
BG/KW/2/2/1/20Scene 20
BG/KW/2/2/1/7Scene 7
BG/KW/13Episode 12: Kevin and the Goblet of Eternal Life
BG/KW/5Episode 4: Kevin and the Genie
BG/KW/2/2/1/2Scene 2
BG/KW/2/2/1/24Scene 25/25A
BG/KW/2/2/1/8Scene 8/8A/8B
BG/KW/2/2/1/14Scene 14
BG/KW/2/2/1/11Scene 11
BG/KW/2/2/1/13Scene 13/13A
BG/KW/2/2/1/16Scene 16/16A
BG/KW/8/2/1/2Unsequenced artwork
BG/MW/4/4Scene 4
BG/MMMillennium - The Musical
BG/KW/6/2/4Sound sheets and recordings
BG/KW/6/2/4/3Cassette tape - Library Horror Music
BG/KW/6/2/1Scene artwork and drawings
BG/KW/6/2/4/4Bar sheets
BG/KW/6/2/4/1Cassette tape - Voiceover
BG/KW/6/2/4/2Cassette tape - Bogeyman Song
BG/KW/6/2/3Colour guide
BG/KW/6/2/2/2End titles
BG/KW/6/2/2/1Front titles
BG/MWMargaret Thatcher, Where am I now?
BG/JB/2/2/1/14Scene 3 Highlights
BG/JBBassett's Jelly Babies Commercials
BG/HCHenry's Cat
BGAOHBob Godfrey archive oral histories
BGBob Godfrey Archive
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