Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and Friends at the NFT was an amazing event where we got to meet the people behind the voices on Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and Peppa Pig.
Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and Friends at the NFT featured the works of Neville Astley, Mark Baker and Phil Davies – who of course are from Astley Baker Davies who make Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom and The Big Knights.
It really was a whole day event – as prior to the start of it the foyer was set up with paper and tons of crafty things so you could make your own Peppa Pig mask (with a polystyrene cup and a paper plate!), or paint/colour in some Peppa characters on paper – or even design your own scene then make your own plasticine characters so you could then make a stop-start animation. There was tons to do, and even better it was free – you didn’t need a ticket for this part.
The part you needed the ticket for, however, was brilliant – Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and Friends at the NFT meant everyone sat and were introduced to Astley, Baker and Davies who then chatted about the shows, answering questions from the audience as well as doing giveaways and prizes (H won for her drawing of Peppa Pig!).
We got to see three new Peppa Pig episodes – ‘Mr Bull in a China Shop’, ‘The Olden Days’ and ‘Grampy Rabbit on the Moon’ as well as a new Ben & Holly one which we can’t remember the exact name of, but it involves bees (and is very funny) – these episodes may not screen until December time, so that was a pretty ace exclusive! We also saw a remastered Big Knights episode ‘Clockwork Knights’ which went down well.
There was plenty of participation from the audience – they invited kids up to sing the Peppa song (H was too shy) and almost all the questions were asked by children.
Then the bit we’d really been looking forward to – the voices behind the characters Daddy Pig (Richard Ridings), Mummy Pig (Morwenna Banks), Peppa Pig (Harley Bird), Miss Rabbit (and Nanny Plum) (Sarah Ann Kennedy), as well as the narrator (John Sparkes) all came on the stage. Harley Bird who plays Peppa brought on her BAFTA that she’d won (first time I’ve ever seen one of those!) and they all chatted, swapping anecdotes and answering questions. Of all the voices, the most immediate were those of Richard Ridings and Sarah Ann Kennedy – both of whom have been voice-spotted while out and about.
So, what did we learn? A days work at Astley Baker Davies results in seven seconds of a Peppa Pig episode – but that can be several episodes at the same time. They’re done in batches and then sent – so the ones we saw today were only very recently finished.
Brian Blessed says too many swear words for him to attend today (which I think is very funny), and a lot of the stories that involve his characters are based on anecdotes he’s told while recording his parts.
The Big Knights wasn’t a massive success – and Astley, Baker and Davies all realised it was due to them not targeting the animation and knowing who their audience was. They went back to the drawing board (so to speak) and had a re-think, knowing they needed a family with a mum, dad and two children… fast forward and Peppa Pig was born!
The parts are recorded ahead of the animation being made – rather than afterwards like you might assume. I’m not sure if they were joking, but they did say it’s the first time they’ve all been in the same room together!
There are no plans for a Peppa Pig film as they don’t want to mess with the five-minute format (hurrah!), but they are working on a Big Knights film. The Big Knights was shown on the BBC, there are thirteen episodes and it has recently been updated and remastered so it’s suitable for our televisions these days – and has been recently brought out on DVD.
Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom is fun for them to work on, as Peppa episodes feature things that have happened or have been dreamt about, whereas with magic you can do anything which gives them a much broader start to work from.
That’s about all I can remember. Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly and Friends at the NFT was great – considering you had a lot of very young kids there, attention spans weren’t too bad – it started with chats, a quick episode, then more chats – and it flowed well. When the kids didn’t really want to listen to the talking, the characters on stage was interesting – H still can’t quite get her head around Nanny Plum and Miss Rabbit being the same person’s voice.
The actors (voice actors?) on stage all introduced themselves in their character voices, and we found out that quite often they’ll try different accents for different characters – Morwenna Banks gave us a quick Madame Gazelle (alas no Bing Bong Song), and the narrator John Sparkes is also the voice of Mr Potato – as well as several other characters! (which he did for us).
You could see how much everyone enjoys working on the shows (which are made in the UK, in their offices on Regent Street) – and how they’re not running out of ideas – there’s always something to write about – the original Peppa, Lily Snowden-Fine’s mum told them a story which was made into an episode – which I think is brilliant! Imagine that – an everyday event becomes a kids tv episode – how cool?
The BFI hold monthly kids events – and we’ll be on the lookout for more – this was a great event – we were in the NFT from 11am until around 4ish which is quite a long day – but there was so much to do that time flew by. I’d highly recommend it and will be going again.
Disclaimer – I was given free tickets for this event, but this was down to taking too long to buy them rather than for the purpose of review. Thankyou to Liz at the BFI for all your help!