07 Aug Animation Innovation
When it comes to dominance in the field of animation, Japan and the USA usually get most of the credit for groundbreaking characters and massively popular franchises. This severely maligns the contributions of many other talented industries, foremost among them the UK. Many of the most beloved cartoon characters of the past 50 years are British. Here are Panrimo’s Top 7:
7) The Snowman
Long before Elsa took over as the Snow Queen, the reigning power of the winter wonderland was a friendly, carrot-nosed snowman who never uttered a single word. Anyone who has seen this British film can attest to the childlike joy that the flight over the forest evokes. C’mon, you know you want to revisit this classic.
6) Paddington Bear
Most Americans know Paddington best as a storybook character, but he also starred in his own, very successful TV show, the earliest episodes of which aired back in the 1970s. He has since returned to the small screen in two more series, broadcast across a variety of networks. Not bad for a small bear!
5) Dennis the Menace
Dennis is arguably the most famous character to have gotten his start in ‘The Beano’ a long-running British comic (since 1938!). Though he has been cast in American and British versions, both animated and live action, his roots lie in England. Along with his equally outrageous dog, Gnasher, Dennis doesn’t seem like he’ll be cleaning up his act anytime soon.
4) Bob the Builder
Hold onto your hard hats, Bob the Builder is actually British! Launched by Keith Chapman (creator of ‘Fifi and the Flowertots’), the series has gained worldwide popularity among the toddler-set. In addition to taking over daytime tv screens, Bob’s catchy song ‘Can We Fix It?’ topped the charts, selling over a million copies in the UK alone.
3) Pink Panther
Always locked in battle against the French Inspector Clouseau, the Pink Panther has the unique situation of being the animated spin-off of a live action film. Though the cartoon hasn’t had any recent reincarnations, the instantly recognizable character has been used in everything from commercials to ‘Family Guy’.
2) Thomas the Tank Engine
Created by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, Thomas was the breakout star of his children’s book series ‘The Railway Series’. Based on a simple wooden toy, Thomas eventually gained his own television series that would go on to inspire a love of trains in nearly every little boy between the ages of 2 and 80.
1) Winnie the Pooh
Here he is, King of British characters, and the cuddliest Pooh Bear in the world (naturally). The adventures of this curious bear and his friends set against the backdrop of Ashdown Forest in Sussex has captured the hearts of millions of children all over the world (with no small help from Disney). You can even see the original stuffed animal on display in the main branch of the NYC public library.