Saturday, 28 April 2012

Happy National Willy Fog Day

You may or may not know this but today is National Willy Fog Day. This most celebrated day was first dreamed up in a Broom Cupboard by Andy Crane back in 1988 to coincide with the transmission of the last episode of Around The World With Willy Fog when it was first broadcast on Children's BBC.   For those of you who need your memory refreshed (or don't know what the hell I'm on about), Willy Fog was a distinguished gentleman cartoon lion who decided to go on a jaunt around the world with his butler and his butler's best friend, Tico, who was a cheeky Italian hamster or something, picking up a beautiful Indian cat princess called Romy on the way. The story was based on Jules Verne's novel: Around the World in 80 Days and in my opinion is much better than the original story.

Prior to the monumental day, children up and down the land were encouraged to write in with a stamped addressed envelope and request a song sheet with the lyrics of the theme tune so that when the day arrived everyone could all sing it in unison from the comfort of their own sitting rooms. Legend has it that in the lead up to the event, Television Centre was so inundated with sacks of mail that they needed to hire extra staff to keep up with the demand. To this day, Andy Crane still receives emails and tweets from people wishing him a happy National Willy Fog Day (they're not all from me I promise). So have a lovely Willy Fog filled day, if you don't have the complete box set to feast you eyes upon [then shame on you] have a look the clips below and feel free to sing along to your heart's content.

Back in the Broom Cupboard in 1988

This continuity link was broadcast last Christmas on the CBBC Channel and I may have got a tad excited about seeing Andy Crane back on CBBC

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Charity Videos...The Mancunian Way

At the start of March I was working on a promo video for a local charity, Forever Manchester which was directed by Transmission Creative and produced by Visual Collective. The reasoning behind the video was to show that the charity uses a much more fun and original approach to fundraising rather than sending a load of chuggers* onto the streets to guilt trip passers by out of their money whilst they're on their lunch break.

It was an amazingly fun shoot to be involved in, we took over half of Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of Manchester and started our own flash mob by the fountains. Check out the video below and keep your eyes open for the little lad with the amazing Oscar the Grouch hat because he was a pretty awesome kid and he certainly had the best head wear I've ever seen!

*a chugger is an abbreviation of 'charity mugger', you know the people who follow you down the street trying to carry on the conversation after you've told them that you're not going to sign up to a monthly direct debit scheme in the middle of a public place without finding out more about the charity first. A chugger is not to be confused with one of Keith Chegwin's lesser known relatives.

To find out more about the charity and how you can get involved in fundraising with them, visit their website at

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

PSHE Videos Never Looked This Good When I Was at School

At the beginning of the year I did a two week work experience placement at Red Production Company. I was helping out with a variety of different programmes that were in production at the time, mainly doing office based work but I also managed to get on set for a day. They were producing a series of short films for BBC Learning entitled Life Stories to highlight a variety of relationship and friendship issues which will be shown in schools as part of PSHE lessons and I was helping out as a floor runner.

My job on the day was to make sure all the children, chaperones and crew were happy and to ensure the cast were at the right place at the right time (make up/wardrobe/set etc). It was also my job to queue the children onto the set at the right time and generally help out with whatever needed doing. It was really great to be working on children's based content again and all the kids were absolutely fantastic and the crew were bloomin lovely. I was also highly impressed with the fact they had a catering van on location, which when you've been working on low budget indie films, you tend to get very excited about things like that and believe it to be the highest form of luxury. Not only did the catering van provide hot lunches and snacks throughout the day but when I arrived at 7am on the Saturday that we were filming, I was informed that breakfast was also included, a pick n mix hot breakfast butty with all the trimmings to be precise...heaven!

Anyway here is the finished video, it's a lovely little story about two school friends and it's a great feeling to watch it back and know that I played a part in creating it.

To watch the other videos in the Life Stories series visit the BBC Learning Zone website.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

New Business Cards Please

I got home yesterday evening after working with the Dickinson's Real Deal crew (which is always a pleasure and so much fun) to find an exciting looking package waiting for me. I ripped it open and tipped out a little box containing my new business cards. The images are slightly darker than I would have liked them to be but on the whole I'm very impressed with the overall everythingness of the cards. Bring on the job offers!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Spring Rebrand - Fiona Style!

A few weeks ago I was at a creative industries networking event in Manchester and met a lovely little lady called Christine Charnock who has done some very exciting graphic designing (go and browse her website at She was my drinking buddy for the evening and we exchanged business cards at the end of the evening as you do at these things. I was very impressed with the card she handed me, it was so smooth and pretty and it certainly put my crappy free Vistaprint cards to great shame.

At the same event I also met some rather...shall we say, interesting characters who had ideas for TV programmes and with my existing knowledge of the industry, were keen to keep in touch. It was then that I became very aware of the fact that when I ordered my business cards many moons ago, I thought it would be a good idea to include my home address on them. Now normally I wouldn't think twice about this but as it's really not necessary in this day and age to keep in touch by post I would rather not be handing out my home address to random people who I've only just met. Also I seem to have a natural ability to attract the nutters (birds of a feather and all that...) and seeing as I have only just recently managed to shake off all the crazies that I seem to have collected in Chester over the years I'm not really keen on the idea of brand new crazy people potentially showing up at my front door without warning. So it was then that I decided the time was right for me to upgrade my business cards and  not include my address on the new ones. 

The next day I was sitting behind a reception desk at my non industry related temping job and the only thing I was required to do all day was to sit there, smile and say "hello" to people as they walked past. The company also had a no internet policy so I started brain storming ideas for my business card design on a scrap of paper. I needed it to be something television related obviously but I also wanted it to be fun and completely different to everybody else's. By the end of the working day I had put down my crayons (and by crayons I mean an archaic version of Microsoft Paint) and I had completed phase one of my grand business card design and this is how it looked...

And thus Test Card Fiona was spawned into existence! If you hadn't guessed already phase two included a photo shoot of myself playing noughts and crosses with a freaky looking clown. Firstly I needed to take a trip to Abakhan and get my sewing kit out to create the clown. After fiddling about for ages trying to remember which bits to turn inside to stitch the damn thing up properly  (it's been a while since I've attempted to sew something together which didn't have clear step by step instructions at the end of a knitting pattern) I finally ended up with this truly terrifying thing....

Finding a blackboard proved most difficult as no stationary or office supply shop seem to stock them. Of course I could have ordered one online but wasn't really willing to pay a lot of money for it and didn't really want to wait a week for it to show up. Luckily for me, my flatmate is an Apply fanboy and recently purchased an iPad so in order to keep him happy (he likes trying to justify his purchase by telling me how useful it is) I decided to put his new toy to a genuine and almost practical use for the day. I found a very nice looking blackboard app to download and then it was all steam ahead for the photo shoot.

Now there's a very good reason why I like to work behind the camera and that's so I don't have to have a mass of cameras in my face. I'm not a very photogenic person and all the family photo albums are filled with me either trying to hide from the person taking the photo or pulling the most ridiculous faces because I can't actually arrange my face in a normal fashion when there is a camera pointing at me. As such, it took me from the time Neighbours finished at lunchtime to half way through Pointless (about three and a half hours all told) before I managed to get a semi decent shot of myself.

Rumour has it that the girl who features on Test Card F was actually using her left hand in the photo and it was flipped around afterwards. I'm not quite sure why this happened, possibly because suppressed left handed school children up and down the country would complain that if the girl in the Test Card was allowed to use her left hand then they should be as well. Whatever the reason I was quite glad to discover this news as I am exclusively left handed, as in I don't use my right hand ever (except for holding shopping bags), so flipping the photo in post was always going to happen but it was nice to know that at least I was being authentic to the original  as much as I possibly could.

This is the finished article, my exciting new business cards are being printed off and should be arriving sometime next week. I can't wait to start handing them out to people, the back is also pretty exciting but I will wait until I receive them before unveiling them properly. Until then, sleep well, don't have nightmares and if you are afraid of clowns, hope to god that you don't bump into me and ask for my contact details!