Bob Godfrey 1921-2013
February 23, 2013 12:04 AM   Subscribe

On Thursday, February 21st, influential British animator Bob Godfrey passed away at the age of 91. (Guardian, BBC,Cartoon Brew, Mirror, Rueters, Telegraph, and yes, even the Daily Mail.

Godfrey created the televison series Henry's Cat, Roobarb, and Noah and Nelly.

He won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his 1975 film Great, a satirical biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

In 1961, he made a short, Do-It-Yourself Cartoon Kit which eventually spawned the Do It Yourself Animation Show, which showed people the ways of tabletop animation and influenced many young British animators:

Episode 1, First, Catch Your Camera is not available, but...

Episode 2
1, 2, 3

Episode 3

(This is the one with Terry Gilliam, as featured here in a previous thread I cannot link to here, for it borks my post.)

1, 2, 3, 4

Episode 4
1, 2, 3

Episode 5
1, 2, 3

Godfrey is also the subject of this BBC2 documentary (an episode of their series The Craftsmen:

1, 2

He directed many other wonderful short films, including Henry 9 til 5, Alf and Bill and Fred, and Kama Sutra Rides Again (which was banned until Stanley Kubrick chose to play it before the premiere of A Clockwork Orange
posted by louche mustachio (12 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
RIP Bob. His simple style inspired many a kid to start drawing.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:04 AM on February 23, 2013

Bits of Great still fill up my head when I've nothing better to do. And often when it does.
posted by cromagnon at 2:11 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Do It Yourself Animation Show was tremendous, and I made sure I watched it every week it was on (you never expected anything to be repeated in those days, and certainly had no idea that it would be served up in chunks on computers in the near future) and remember it fondly, even though I knew I didn't have the patience to actually do it (though I was hugely enthused by Gilliam's appearance - quick! easy! wah!) and we didn't have enough family dosh to maintain a super 8 camera (as offered as a prize on the Screen Test young film-maker's competition, despite the fact that you'd already have to own one in order to enter). It was also the first place I ever saw an excerpt of The Thief and the Cobbler. But there was definitely something about Godfrey's approach that we'd later know as the punk ethic. Certainly I can't help but think that a young Nicholas Park must have also been watching.
posted by Grangousier at 4:57 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Godfrey also developed an early computer cel animation system that replicated the traditional light table and peg bars. It was demoed on Tomorrow's World, so it must have gone nowhere ...

Roobarb & Custard were the best. Everything was so wobbly!
posted by scruss at 5:13 AM on February 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


(The second one is for Richard Briers who provided the voice-over work for Rhubarb and who died on the 17th.)
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:45 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The one I really miss is "Alf, Bill and Fred", which I can't find online anywhere. It's a short film about three friends: a man, a dog and a duck, and the rift that develops between them when the man suddenly inherits vast wealth.

It was made in silent-film style with title cards instead of narration. They got an experienced silent film pianist to do the soundtrack; he played it live while watching the cartoon, and they only had to adjust it by a couple of frames afterwards.

Anyway, rest in peace, Mr. Godfrey.
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:16 AM on February 23, 2013


Fond memories of Roobarb and Custard, and Noah and Nelly.
posted by Joh at 8:06 AM on February 23, 2013

' "Great: Isambar..." This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Bob Godfrey Films.
Sorry about that.

posted by ardgedee at 9:26 AM on February 23, 2013

You know, I just had to read the first few words of this and then the Roobarb theme is hammering away in my head. It's basically been permanently lodged in there for 30+ years, along with the soothing tones of also-recently-died Richard Briers. Thanks guys, you made being 5 years old worth it!
posted by meehawl at 10:35 AM on February 23, 2013

I lovelovelove Alf and Bill and Fred! BOUNCING!
posted by louche mustachio at 1:09 PM on February 23, 2013

Alf, Bill and Fred, official. Worth 99p of your money, even if it goes to Bob's estate instead of Bob himself now.

Also Dream Doll which, for those who haven't seen it, is a parody of the film The Red Balloon.
posted by Hogshead at 2:58 PM on February 23, 2013

No one mentioned he invented the Daleks?
posted by reiichiroh at 10:02 PM on February 23, 2013

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