RIP Mark Hall

If you’re of a certain age, and from the UK, the chances are the work of Cosgrove Hall touched your life – either as child or parent.

For years the Chorlton-based studio was the premiere home of British kids cartoons, and the studio’s closure by owners ITV in the late noughties represented the end of an era, something hammered home when the building used by Cosgrove Hall for years, tucked away down a lane in South Manchester, was sold for demolition.

Then last month came the news that Cosgrove Hall was to be restarted, after a fashion. Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall were to partner with Irish entrepreneur Francis Fitzpatrick to launch a new firm, with Hall’s son Simon serving as MD.

New projects Pip! and Hero-gliffix were announced, with dozens of jobs being created in Manchester, and a whole new generation of kids being promised the chance of experiencing Cosgrove Hall’s work.

Which makes today’s sad announcement of Mark Hall’s death even more untimely.

The 75-year-old passed away in the early hours of this morning from cancer, surrounded by his family, a spokesman for CHF told the BBC.

It’s hard, if you’re British and under 40, to understate the importance of Cosgrove Hall. Dangermouse. Chorlton and the Wheelies. Jamie and his Magic Torch. Count Duckula. The Wind in the Willows. If it was a cartoon on ITV and it was decent, there was a fairly good chance it came from the studio.

They even branched out into more grown-up works, producing the Captain Kremmen cartoon for Kenny Everett’s TV shows in the late 70s, and the Ghosts of Albion webtoon for the BBC in the mid-2000s.

Hell, they even did Doctor Who, producing the Paul Cornell-scripted, Richard E Grant-starring web series Scream of the Shalka. I used to work for the local paper in Manchester, and lived in Chorlton, and went to Cosgrove Hall to see the production of Shalka. Though, to be honest, I was as much in awe of their work on Dangermouse and Duckula as I was their efforts in making a Doctor Who cartoon.

Indeed, like most folk of my age and my generation, Dangermouse is why Cosgrove Hall is lodged in my mind. Perhaps Hall and Cosgrove’s finest, and most memorable, creation, it was witty, clever and brilliant – the perfect fusion of Brian Trueman’s scripts, David Jason & company’s acting and the studio’s playful animation.

As with the death of Oliver Postgate three years ago, the loss of Mark Hall represents the loss of a little bit of British childhood – a world away from the whizz bang zap toy catalogues masquerading as cartoons that clog up the schedules these days.

The sympathies of everyone on the Thumbcast are with his family and friends tonight, and our memories undoubtedly on a helter skelter or under a post box.