Animator and scriptwriter, Les Brooksbank, completed the Art Foundation and Diploma in Graphics after studying at Bradford Regional College of Art from 1964 to 1968.
“Initially I did a Foundation year, mainly in the Bolton Royd
building, with some life drawing classes and lectures in the main
building or Chapel (now Grove Library). Subsequent years were
mostly spent in the Thornton Road Annexe, which had been a
woollen mill. The Graphics department was on the first floor and
was headed by a jovial, rather portly Scotsman called John Fleming.
A fellow student and I embarked on the production of a half hour live action puppet film called The Security People. One of our tutors was even roped in to voice one of the puppets. At one point we needed a large area to build a major set and, goodness knows how we managed it, but we obtained permission to build it on one of the then unused upper floors of the annexe, which were still in the same state as when vacated by the mill machinery. There was no electricity, so we had to run cables for our lights and the floors were still soaked in oil and wool grease. Had they known that we intended to blow up and burn a model van and a model house in there they would have had a fit, but in the event the caretaker even lent us the matches!”
Les then worked on the trailers for The Thomas Crown Affair, Cromwell and Disney’s Jungle Book at National Screen Service. He returned to Bradford to head the animation and art department for Five Cities Films, a TV commercials production company, until 1975 when be became producer/animator for Kamel International Films.
“In 1983 I went totally freelance, working on short term contracts for Tyne Tees TV, Yorkshire TV, Granada TV, Central TV and Thames TV before taking on a rolling contract as an animator for Europe’s largest animation studio, Cosgrove Hall Productions in Manchester. I worked on series such as Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Victor & Hugo, plus the feature length production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. When Thames TV lost its franchise in 1991, half the staff of Cosgrove Hall were made redundant, me among them. However, I left on the Friday and flew out to Munich on the Sunday to direct a series of animated TV commercials, taking 3 other redundant animators with me. I returned a few months later to direct another series.
Back home I worked steadily as a key animator on many children’s cartoon series including Avenger Penguins; Captain Star; Romuald the Reindeer; Mr. Men; Raggy Dolls; Wolves, Witches & Giants; Binka; Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and the award winning Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids.
However, the demand for hand drawn animation started to wane as computer animation programmes became more sophisticated, so I diversified into writing storylines and scripts for children’s animated TV series such as Meeow!, Fireman Sam and the BAFTA winning Hana’s Helpline. Writing has now taken over completely, the last time I did any animation being 6 or 7 years ago. Upcoming projects on which I am slated to script include 2 brand new series, Ig, about a caveman family set in prehistoric times, and a futuristic series called Psi 5.”
Self portrait drawn by Les Brooksbank drawn specially for the 175 Heroes Exhibition