Producer-Animator Mark Hall, co-founder with Brian Cosgrove of famed British studio Cosgrove Hall, died early Friday at his Manchester home after a battle with cancer. He was 74.
He died surrounded by his family, said his company, Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment.
The animation studio he founded was responsible for Danger Mouse, Vampires, Pirates and Aliens and The Wind in the Willows, among many TV series. It also produced such features as Cinderella (1979) and The BFG (1989).
Hall met Cosgrove while they were studying at Manchester School of Art in the 1950s. After graduation, they both joined TV, doing graphic design at Granada Television.
In 1971, Hall left Granada to start Stop Frame Productions, which, he said in a 2006 interview, was “where we cut our teeth.”
They created Cosgrove Hall Films in 1976, the year after Stop Frame was wound down. They had success around the world with their series, which included Danger Mouse spin-off Count Duckula, Jamie and the Magic Torch and Cockleshell Bay.
Hall had “a lifetime of achievement” in animation, recalled Cosgrove Hall operations director Adrian Wilkins. “He is one of life’s gentlemen.:
Voiced by Only Fools and Horses actor David Jason, Danger Mouse was joined by bumbling sidekick Penfold (voiced by Terry and June star Terry Scott) in his attempts to vanquish evil Baron Greenback.
In 2006, the series’ 25th anniversary year, Hall told the British Broadcasting Corporation that the secret to Danger Mouse’s success was the odd situations that the the pair found themselves in.
“The adults watched because of that kind of anarchy,” he said. “The kids watched it because they just loved the stories and the absolutely stupid gags.”
He praised Jason’s “fantastic” voicing of Danger Mouse and Scott’s “wonderful” Penfold.
Produced by Cosgrove Hall for Thames TV, Danger Mouse drew an average audience of 3.5 million when first aired in the Britain on ITV. Since then, it’s been broadcast in over 80 countries.
Although Cosgrove Hall went out of business two years ago, both co-founders came out of retirement this year to form Cosgrove Hall Fitzpatrick Entertainment with Francis Fitzpatrick, creator of the hit kids’ series Jakers!
The company has created a new character, Pip!, which, it says, could create at least 75 jobs in the Manchester area when production begins.
Cosgrove and Hall also created the new series The HeroGliffix, a group of “so-called super heroes” who have “paws with flaws that get in the way of their superpowers in the most inconvenient and comical ways.”
“Mark was instrumental in designing the two new TV shows which we’re taking to market now which are, if you like, his legacy,” said CHF’s Adrian Wilkins. “And he actually saw the Cosgrove Hall name resurrected which was the nicest tribute we could give to him.”
Added Wilkins: “One of our fellow directors summed it up the other day and said, when the history of animation is written, you’ll have the likes of Walt Disney up there, [Bob the Builder’s] Keith Chapman, etc. But Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall are going to be in the lifetime hall of fame for their contribution to the animation industry.”
Mark Hall is survived by his wife and two children. One of them, Simon, also works in the animation business.