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Widdicombe Fair

Uncle Tom Cobley and all are brought to life, and death, in this beautiful pencil rendered animation of the popular Devon folk song

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1947 6 mins

Overview

Did a Tom Pearce lend his grey mare to Bill Brewer and friends? Whether Uncle Tom Cobley and all were actual Dartmoor locals or not, the song that made their names and Widdicombe Fair (or Widecombe as it is called today) famous is still a catchy tune. This drawn interpretation sponsored by the British Council benefits from a cracking rendition by baritone Dale Smith and some distinctive animation techniques.

William Larkins trained at Goldsmiths and developed a reputation as a talented etcher, particularly for his portraits of his local East End. After working at the advertising agency J Walter Thompson (where amongst other things he designed the iconic Black Magic chocolate box) Larkins moved into animation at the outbreak of WWII. After setting up the company that carried his name, the W.M. Larkins Studio, he appeared to lose interest and left the operation to be run by his sister, with art direction by the immensely talented German Peter Sachs. As this film attests, their early films were produced on a shoestring budget, but were progressive and visually distinctive. The ghosts at the end of this film point to the direction to the more sophisticated techniques they would reach by the end of the decade.