Search for save the children’s TV treasures

Puppets for some of the most-loved children’s TV characters of the 1970s and ‘ 80s are to get urgent repairs to stop them falling to pieces.

The puppets come from the file of animation studio Cosgrove Hall, which made shows like the Wind in The Willows and Chorlton and the Wheelies.

A project has begun to preserve and display the Cosgrove Hall archive.

Sixty per cent of the puppets made of latex, including the characters of the Wind in The Willows, is in “serious risk”.

And 20% are past saving, according to Westley Wood, a former Cosgrove Hall employee who has rescued the treasure.

Mario Popham

Cosgrove Hall, who also did classic shows such as Danger Mouse, Count Duckula, Terry Pratchett’s Truckers and Noddy’s toyland Adventures. But its characters are put into storage when the studio was closed in 2009.

Some of the best preserved items of memorabilia now on display in an exhibition at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, Manchester.

According to Wood, the hand-drawn acetate of the cells used to encourage the likes of Danger Mouse and Count Duckula have lasted well.

But the 3D puppets that were employed in stop-motion animations have deteriorated with age, with parts of the latex of the fall of some to expose the steel frames underneath.

“The film cells are well-preserved,” said Wood. “They can be saved quite easily. But unfortunately many of the puppets were made of foam latex, and with the time it dries.

“As all of them have dried and become quite stiff, these puppets have begun to lose the half of your face or part of his arm.

“There is a large process at the time of the identification of important pieces of the collection, and that we are in immediate need of restoration.

“At least 60% of the same is at serious risk and at least 20% of that is last to be saved,” he continued. “It is a very bad way.”

The file has been awarded a £42,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with contributions from the Sale of the Bank and of the Arts Council of England take the fund of more than £ 50,000.

But that does not extend to the restoration of the hundreds of items in the file.

“To restore all that could cost millions, unfortunately, so we need to identify the key elements that we believe have a significant cultural heritage,” said Wood, while insisting that the impairment was “nobody’s fault”.

“Personally, I’d love to restore everything, but that is not possible at this stage.”

The Cosgrove Hall exhibition at Sale Waterside runs from 21 October to 17 February.

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