Bob Godfrey

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains records relating to Bob Godfrey's animation work. Records include pre-production, production, and post-production material. These comprise scripts, storyboards, correspondence, animation cels, pencil drawings, award certificates and photographs. The collection also includes personal drawings from Bob Godfrey and photographs of Bob Godfrey, his 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
  • Brumble Brumble
  • Bunbury Tails
  • Biowoman
  • Chickens
  • Clearasil
  • Dream Doll
  • Dear Margery Boobs
  • Diamond Oil
  • Dirty Rats Tales
  • Fatty Doggy
  • Fleas
  • Fuzzy Wuzzy
  • Great
  • Henry's Cat
  • Hodder's Phonetix
  • Hoya
  • Instant Sex
  • Bessett's Jelly Babies Commercials
  • John Gilpin
  • Jim Space Born
  • Jumbo...an elephant you'll never forget
  • Know you Europeans
  • Kama Sutra Rides Again
  • Kevin Saves the World
  • Marx for Beginners
  • Millennium, the Musical
  • Margaret Thatcher, Where am I now?
  • Noah and Nelly in SkylArk
  • The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal
  • Oh What a Hog
  • Oracle Company
  • Productivity Primer
  • Polygamous Polonius Revisited
  • Roobarb
  • Shakespeare Music Hall
  • Small Talk
  • Trio
  • Unlucky Wally
  • Wrinkly Bonk
  • Will's World
  • Wicked Willie

Administrative / Biographical History

Bob Godfrey was born in Horse Shoe Bend, West Maitland, Australia in 1921, 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). 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'. The last two films Godfrey made at Biographic Films were The Rise and Fall of Emily Sprod (1964) and Alf, Bill and Fred (1964). 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. The films they worked on included Polygamous Polonius, Alf, Bill and Fred, Henry 9 'til 5, Karma Sutra Rides Again, Dream Doll, Instant Sex, and Bio-Woman.

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, for example, the Roobarb and Custard series (1975). Almost a decade after Roobarb and Custard, Godfrey produced another series called Henry's Cat (1980s to early 1990s). In 1990, Godfrey teamed up with cartoonist Gray Jollife to bring 'Wicked Willie' into animated life. Godfrey also worked on Bunbury Tails/Tales, Kevin Saves the World, and The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal, based on the drawings of Jeremy Banx. Apart from the short films and series that made characterised Bob Godfrey Films, they also produced many commercials, which helped keep the studio financially stable. 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 Zagrab 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.

Bob Godfrey died on 21 February 2013, at the age of 91.

Arrangement

The archive material has been arranged in accordance with original order when known. The collection has been arranged into series of animation productions. These have been arranged according to pre-production, production, and post production.

Conditions Governing Access

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Hannah Ratford, Archive Cataloguer (February 2015).