British animation: The Channel 4 factor by Clare Kitson
Friday December 11th 2009, 10:12 am
Filed under: Festivals
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It’s the time of year when we are all searching for the perfect gift to give and for me this means books, CD’s or DVD’s. The book that tops my list this year is British animation: The Channel 4 factor by Clare Kitson.  For anyone who loves animation the book is a rich treasure with an in-depth look at 30 classic British films and the animators who created them. Clare
brings to life the back story of the creation of some of my favorite animated friends such as Joanna Quinn’s wacky Beryl and Dolly Pond of Pond Life.
From the production of The Snowman, which marked the dawn of Channel 4’s innovative move to funding animation for television in 1982 to Suzie Templeton’s Academy Award winning Peter and the Wolf, Clare is the insider who was a big part of it all.  For a decade, from 1989 to 1999, she commissioned Channel 4’s animation, championing young animators and vigorously fighting to give short animation a high profile spot on the station.
For anyone interested in the inner workings and politics of arts programming for media this book is a must read.  We all know that arts and commerce always seem to be at war, but it’s very insightful to be taken into the war room by someone who fought on the front lines.  Clare was not only a fighter but an innovator as well, creating such programs as Four-mations.  The series was a showcase for young British animators as well as a vehicle to bring the work of international animation legends into the living room.  Kitson even managed to occasionally get these programs aired during prime time.
Clare Kitson’s struggle to bring quality adult oriented animation to the public is a true labor of love and who better to tell her story than Clare herself. I found this book to be as exciting and engaging as any page turner and I am still enjoying leafing through the book to look at the 300 illustrations and pictures, many in color.  Not to be overlooked is a lovely forward by Peter Lord.
For those in the UK and Europe you can purchase the book from:      17.99 pounds + postage and packing fee.
In the United States it is available through Indiana University Press:     $29.95