Special Report The Amazing World Of Gumball Screening In London
Ahead of the premiere of new episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball on Cartoon Network UK for its month-long programming event – The A-May-zing Month of Gumball, Cartoon Network hosted a special screening and question and answer session at BAFTA Piccadilly in London on Saturday 29th April. At the screening, three upcoming episodes were shown: The Copycats, The Potato and The Sorcerer. The question and answer session featured the show’s creator – Ben Bocquelet, series director – Mic Graves and Executive Producer – Sarah Fell, the session was hosted by TV presenter Nigel Clarke. Since its world premiere on Cartoon Network UK in 2011, the show has aired on Cartoon Network on all four corners of the Earth, achieved international critical acclaim and has won a total of eight Childrens’ BAFTAs.
In “The Copycats”, Gumball and Darwin encounter Chi Chi and Ribbit, two brothers that copy everything they do and say. Eventually, they find out that Chi Chi, Ribbit and their copycat family are actually television stars in China and are making money online by imitating the Watterson family under the title of “The Incredible World of Chi Chi”. The Wattersons do their best to get rid of the annoying copycat family, but unfortunately for the copycats, they don’t have an equivalent to Anais, the smartest and youngest member of the Watterson family. Anais outsmarts the copycats, leading them to their demise.
In “The Potato”, Darwin quits eating potatoes after being told by Gumball that it’s upsetting their potato school friend – Idaho. After realising that eating potatoes is upsetting one of his friends, Darwin tries to kick his potato addiction, which is a lot harder than it seems. Later, it turns out that Idaho is actually a “different kind” of potato and he was only upset because he was called a “brotato”, a nickname he hates.
In “The Sorcerer”, Gumball refuses to accept that he’s the only kid in school without any special abilities, he visits Mrs. Jötunheim (Hector’s mom) so he could become a sorcerer’s apprentice, due to Gumball’s complete disregard to safety and not following instructions, he opens the Door of Forbidden Secrets and Darwin gets dragged in by a troll. As compensation for putting them in danger, Mrs. Jötunheim gives Gumball a “downloadable free trial” version of her magical powers, however, magical powers are useless against a troll, so Gumball defeated the troll using his special ability he had all along and he didn’t even realise it, his special ability is being annoying.
After the screening, there was a question and answer session, this was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions to Ben, Mic and Sarah about any questions about The Amazing World of Gumball, during this segment, Ben also did a live drawing of Gumball and Darwin for the audience with a digital pen and touch display.
Video of Ben Bocquelet doing a live drawing of Gumball and Darwin for the audience:
During the question and answer session, various interesting facts about the show were mentioned, during the Q&A, Ben mentioned that he started working on The Amazing World of Gumball in 2009, before then he worked in advertising industry, mainly creating characters for different clients, however he had little to no success, so instead, he compiled all of his character creations into a show bible – a comprehensive report of the show’s premise and its characters. Ben pitched the show to Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe, after some tweaks to the premise and character designs, a one minute test episode was developed, then after a few final changes the show was fully approved by Cartoon Network to go into full production. It was mentioned that Darwin was supposed to be a 3D character, but due to time constraints, complexity and character screen time, Darwin became a 2D character just like his brother and friend Gumball. Initially, the production team were concerned that the show wouldn’t be renewed after season one, but the show turned out to be a success.
Towards the start of the show’s development, Mic Graves was hired as the show’s director, Mic has been working in the British animation industry since 1998 and worked on the BAFTA award winning Canterbury Tales as well as working as creative director on Britain’s answer to South Park, BBC Three’s adult animation show – Monkey Dust. As the show’s director, Mic oversees all aspects of production, from writing, storyboarding, background art, composition and 2D/3D animation. Mic voiced Banana Joe and William (a flying eyeball) in the show, he gets involved in the show’s writing and even made a cameo appearance in the show. Sarah Fell works as the show’s executive producer, her responsibility is to make sure the show is on schedule and within budget as well as recruitment, Sarah G. Lato, an ice cream character in the show is named after her. Ben named Nicole after her mum, Richard after his father and Anais after his sister. The character, Tobias Wilson is also named after show writer – Tobi Wilson.
Ben jokingly mentioned that he wanted to be a ninja when he was growing up, but went to art school to study animation instead, he also mentioned that Gumball is loosely based on him and a roommate of his and many of the episode storylines were based on experiences he had while he was a child. Mic liked art and film from a young age, which sparked an interest in animation. Ben also mentioned that he’s still willing to do a Gumball movie, however, Cartoon Network would need to greenlight a possible motion picture. He also offered some advice for future animated show creators, he suggested getting involved in animation film festivals to network with people working in the industry and by booking an interview with Cartoon Network’s acquisitions department, especially as Cartoon Network is always looking for new short-form content. For young children, he suggested Cartoon Network’s Imagination Studios initiative so they could get a head start by learning the basics of animation and also to get involved in the competitions.
The humour in The Amazing World of Gumball works on many levels appealing to both children and adults, the show has slapstick humour for young children and jokes on social commentary, everyday modern life and witty humour for adults and older children. The episode “The Copycats” features characters based from the Chinese Gumball ripoff – Miracle Star, which not only features similar character designs but also the similarities in scenes and the whole mixed-media concept of the show. Miracle Star was (not :D) created by Sanyuan Group to promote their powdered goat milk in China. Ironically, when designing Chi Chi and Ribbit, the production team had to consult legal advice to make sure it’s not similar to the two main characters in Miracle Star just to prevent a possible lawsuit.
Ben suggested that he would like to do a crossover episode in which Gumball and Darwin gets a backstage pass from “The Awesome Store” giving them the ability to go into different TV shows, but Gumball and Darwin forget to close the door and as a result, the world gets contaminated (technically making Gumball and Darwin accidental villains), causing a mass show crossover, he suggested Steven Universe (with the Crystal Gems) and Batman could be possible characters in the episode. During the first three seasons of the show, the production team worked weekends and bank holidays to make sure episodes were completed on schedule. Sarah said at the last audit, there’s a total of 980 unique characters in the show. The episode called “The Finale” and an upcoming episode “The Singing” were mentioned as two episodes with the most characters. The episode “The Job” was mentioned among their favourite episodes, Ben’s personal favourite episode from season 3 is “The Money”. It was also mentioned that there will be an episode with puppets and an episode parodying Disney’s hit movie – Frozen.
As it’s the open weekend for BAFTA’s 70th Anniversary, Ben, Mic and Sarah were asked what their earliest and favourite TV or Movie moment, Ben mentioned his experience in seeing E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial at the cinema when he was four years old. Mic mentioned the time when he had a VHS Recorder just to watch Ghostbusters, Sarah mentioned that she watched Star Trek from an early age and later, Star Wars.
After the Q&A, there was an opportunity to get an autograph from Ben and Mic, in the queue, I talked to Jakki Chrysler and Victoria Westwood from Turner UK’s PR team, they said thanks for coming, I mentioned that it’s nearly been three years since I’ve started posting the UK highlights (the website opened on 1st August 2014, but I posted the highlights on Twitter a bit before then), also I met Grant White, a reporter from ToonZone we talked about the ToonZone website, The Amazing World of Gumball and Cartoon Network in general, it was nice to meet him especially as I’m a ToonZone forum member. Eventually, I got to meet Ben and Mic for their autographs, I asked Ben to draw Gumball and asked Mic to draw Banana Joe as he voices him, both of them were incredibly friendly and it was a pleasure to talk to them.
Ben Bocquelet’s signature with drawing of Gumball:
Mic Graves’ signature with drawing of Banana Joe:
The Amazing World of Gumball screening was an amazing experience, it definitely won’t be a day I’ll ever forget.
New episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball will air every weekday from tomorrow (Monday 1st May) at 8am and 5.30pm as part of Cartoon Network UK’s The A-May-zing Month of Gumball month-long programming event. Also, don’t forget to visit The Amazing World of Gumball section of the Cartoon Network UK website and take part in The A-May-zing Month of Gumball competition. In order to enter the competition, vote for your favourite character in the show and fill in the online form.
The first prize winner shall win a PlayStation 4 Slim (1 TB) and a Cartoon Network goodie bag. Five runner-ups shall receive a Cartoon Network goodie bag.
The Cartoon Network goodie bag will contain the following items:
A Gumball tote bag, Gumball notepad, pen, key ring, a Gumball t-shirt, a CN cap, a set of badges and one plush toy.
Competition ends Monday 22nd May, terms and conditions can be accessed via the link on the competition submission form.
Promo for The A-May-zing Month of Gumball:
Promo for The Amazing World of Gumball section of the Cartoon Network UK website and The A-May-zing Month of Gumball competition: