Special Report Cartoon Network UK’s 25th Anniversary Screening In London
Yesterday (29th September), Cartoon Network UK celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special screening at BAFTA’s (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) headquarters in Piccadilly, Central London. The special screening was presented by Nigel Clarke (also the presenter of the UK version of Ben 10: Challenge), the series director of The Amazing World of Gumball – Mic Graves was invited as a special guest for the questions and answers segment. Cartoon Network UK turned 25 years old on 17th September.
At the screening event, an episode each of three existing Cartoon Network shows were shown on the big screen – Adventure Time, We Bare Bears and The Amazing World of Gumball, followed by the Q&A session with Mic Graves and then the UK premiere of two brand new shows from Cartoon Network Studios which will air on Cartoon Network UK this Autumn – Summer Camp Island and Craig of the Creek. Craig of the Creek will have its UK television premiere on Cartoon Network tomorrow (Monday 1st October), with new episodes airing on weekdays at 5.30pm.
The Adventure Time episode that was shown was – “Shh!”, in the episode, Finn and Jake make a wager not to speak for the day and the only way they can communicate is by using signs, body language and hand gestures. As a result of not grasping the situation, BMO gets weirded out by Finn’s and Jake’s behaviour, BMO retreats to his hideout in one of the treehouse’s walls and listen to its favourite song, BMO is creeped out because it thinks Finn and Jake have been replaced. Finn and Jake chop down the wall with axes. Meanwhile, Waiting outside are a gang of “Bikini Babes” who want to dance with BMO, they fly to the treehouse’s roof. By chopping at the wall, Finn and Jake caused a rift in the wall, causing the ceiling to collapse which caused the gang of Bikini Babes to fall inside the treehouse, a fight then breaks out, BMO suddenly learn Finn and Jake were themselves all along, and invites Finn and Jake to party, the Party God then crashes the party and joins in.
Next up was We Bare Bears, the episode that was shown was called – “Chloe”, it’s also the episode where Chloe makes her debut in the We Bare Bears series. In the episode, a young child prodigy named Chloe sneaks in the Bears’ cave and documents their habitat with the use of a video camera, the Bears find out that she’s intruding in their house and starts interrogating her. Grizz, Panda and Ice Bear learn that she’s only researching about bears for a university project, the Bears then help out with her research. Chloe forgets her laptop and the bears read her presentation, the bears disapprove of what was written and decided to make a presentation that make themselves look awesome. Chloe didn’t know that the bears changed her presentation and was humiliated in front of her teacher and her fellow university students, the Bears feel sorry for what they did, they go up to the lecture theatre stage with Chloe and give an “A-grade” presentation.
The Amazing World of Gumball episode that was shown was the Childrens’ BAFTA award-winning episode – “The Shell”, In the episode, Gumball and Penny are acting the final scene a school play – Beauty and the Beast, during the very last moment, Penny (as Beauty) tells Gumball (the Beast), to kiss her, Gumball is surprised as it wasn’t in the script, he kisses Penny too quickly and accidentally headbutts her. Penny finds out that a crack has been formed in her peanut shell body by her left eye caused by the accident. Penny’s father – Mr. Fitzgerald is unhappy about what happened and forbids Gumball from seeing Penny again. Gumball also explains that whatever is in Penny’s shell is nothing to be ashamed of. Gumball is upset and can’t discuss about what happened with his family, he goes to his bedroom in sadness, suddenly Penny appears at her window and announces that her father has now put her in a different school, Gumball explains that Penny should be herself, she takes his advice and reveals her true fairy form. Gumball is too stunned and amazed to finish his sentence to tell her how she looks quickly enough, Penny sees this as a negative response. Penny thinks she ugly and shapeshifts into an ugly monster. Mr. Fitzgerald sees Penny’s new “ugly appearance” while driving in the street and is upset by it, he says some unintentionally hurtful comments about Penny and she flies away. Gumball finds Penny in the forest and tells her that feelings define her appearance, Gumball shares his true feelings and kisses her, Penny then shapeshifts back to her true fairy form, Gumball’s parents and Mr. Fitzgerald watch Gumball and Penny being happy together.
The episode of Summer Camp Island that was shown at the screening was “Time Traveling Quick Pants”. In the episode, the campers play a game of softball. During the game, Oscar’s pants come down revealing embarrassing underpants. He and Hedgehog find out about a quicksand portal that allows people to travel through time and use it to fix his mistake. However, every time they use it, something else goes wrong, such as going back to the time of the dinosaurs or accidentally setting fire to the hot dog tent on the softball field. However, Oscar and Hedgehog go back in time again and with success, the unfortunate incident didn’t happen, however it worked too well, as representatives from a softball camp invited Oscar as they were impressed by his skills. Oscar can’t move away from his best friend, so they go back in time one last time and admit that the embarrassing incident was meant to happen after all by recreating it.
The episode of Craig of the Creek was shown was the show’s first episode – “Itch to Explore”. In the episode, Craig draws a map of the creek but he and his friends JP and Kelsey find out about an empty undiscovered area, a circular area surrounded by a ring of Poison Ivy. The trio want to be remembered in creek history and what to claim the space as their own, aware of the risk, they prep up and wear protective suits, although JP gets exposed to the Poison Ivy, they discover that the centre of the poison ivy ring is a trampoline. They then meet a kid who’s immune to poison ivy, he spends time in the poison ivy patch to get away from his large family and to spend some time with himself. However, the kid doesn’t want other kids to know about his place of solitude so Craig decides to write “Keep Out” on the map, deterring kids from exploring that part of the creek.
Q&A with Mic Graves
In between the The Amazing World of Gumball episode and Summer Camp Island episode, there was a questions and answers session with Gumball’s series director – Mic Graves. This was an opportunity for kids and adults to ask questions about the show which also included a discussion about the history of Gumball. Mic met Ben Bocquelet – the creator of The Amazing World of Gumball at a creative studio in London called Studio AKA, which also produced adverts for companies, both Ben and Mic created characters for commercials, however, Mic was more successful than Ben. Ben decided to reuse the characters he created for a pitch for an animated show now referred to as “The Amazing World of Gumball”. As the show’s director, Mic oversees all aspects of production, from writing, storyboarding, background art, composition and 2D/3D animation and even gets involved in writing songs for the show. Mic also voices Banana Joe as well as his father – Banana Bob. Also present at the screening was the show’s voice director – Richard Overall who voices Billy Parham in Gumball. Mic was asked about how easy is it to draw the characters, he explains that drawing the characters can be hard, due to the shape of character’s heads and eye positions (especially Gumball) and mentioned that Darwin was meant to be a 3D character, which would of caused difficulty in the animation process as 2D and 3D characters would have to overlay each other. The character Mr. Small, is based on a person Mic used to work with named Steve Small, in fact Steve Small actually created the character and to an extent behaves like Mr. Small in real life.
During the Q&A session it was mentioned that work on The Amazing World of Gumball started in 2008, which means Gumball is now technically ten years old. Mic was asked why is the show and its characters were crazy, Mic jokingly said that it’s because of the people who work on it. Mic also explains that Gumball’s team produce the show from the perspective of their childhoods and what type of show they would of enjoyed as kids. The show has a lot of creative freedom, but sometimes Cartoon Network’s standards and practices team make sure that each episode is suitable for kids to watch. Some members of the audience were surprised to learn that The Amazing World of Gumball wasn’t made in the United States but in London with some work produced at Studio Soi in Germany (known for the animated specials The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child) the show makes use of British comedy writers’ talent and combines it with an American setting and American culture for the purpose of making it easier to market to audiences in the United States (Cartoon Network’s home market). The Amazing World of Gumball is currently halfway through its sixth season, season six will have a total of 44 episodes and a typical season of 40 episodes takes two years to produce. Mic’s favourite Cartoon Network show at the moment is Apple and Onion created by former Gumball storyboarder – George Gendi and his favourite episode of Gumball is “The Remote”.
Mic also revealed that there will be an episode of Gumball called “The Future” coming out soon, the episode will be about Banana Barbara’s (Banana Joe’s mother) prophetic paintings which depict scenes of what will happen in the future. After the screening, I had a chance to talk to Mic about the future plans of The Amazing World of Gumball, Mic said that a script for The Amazing World of Gumball movie is currently being worked on, however its still in its very early stages. Mic also said that he hopes that the movie will happen. I also asked Mic if he will be working on Cartoon Network Studios Europe new show – Elliott from Earth, he confirmed that he’s working on the new show with the show’s creator – Guillaume Cassuto (former compositing supervisor on Gumball), he also said the script for the pilot has been complete and there’s five drafts for other episodes have been written, he also confirmed that he started working on the new show this month. Animation is a lengthy process but its great to hear an update.
Also after the screening, I also talked to Nigel Clarke to see if there will be anymore episodes of Ben 10: Challenge, he said, Cartoon Network has given free-to-air children’s channel – CITV broadcasting rights to the show to help increase the show’s exposure, if it gets good viewing ratings, Cartoon Network could renew the show for another season. Also the fact that Ben 10: Challenge has spread to other parts of the world such as Asia is also a good sign about the show’s future.
Before leaving the 25th Anniversary event, I had my picture taken with Gumball and Darwin! :). I’d like to thanks Mic and Nigel for answering my questions and also to Cartoon Network UK for inviting me as well as BAFTA Kids for running the event. It was a fantastic day and I was so glad to be there to celebrate 25 years of Cartoon Network in the UK and mainland Europe.