Original British animation series aimed at grown up audiences are rare on television.

The US has cornered the market thanks to shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons, and it is tough to raise the funds for animated series in the UK.

So hats off to Harry and Jack Williams of Two Brothers Pictures, the new British production company behind C4 animated sitcom, Full English, which began airing this week. They partnered with with artist and lead designer Alex Scarfe (son of legendary illustrator Gerald) and Hollywood-based Rough Studios, the company behind The Simpsons Movie, to make Full English. Here they explain how they did it.

How did you get to make this for C4?
We didn’t go in with a notion or a treatment. We wrote a full pilot script and Alex drew the characters. So we went into C4 armed with those and set out the whole world. We also danced for them wearing short shorts.

Where did the idea for Full English come from?

The fact that Britain hasn’t yet done the quintessential English family in animated form. And the fact that animation hasn’t really been cracked in the UK yet. It’s such a popular medium and it’s right there for the taking. I’m sure we’ll get a lot of comparisons to Family Guy but when that came out people just said they ripped off The Simpsons so it’s all relative. It’s the characters that make a show.

How did you go about raising the money and making it?

This kind of high-end, hand-drawn animation is expensive, so we got an advance from the distributor, BBC Worldwide. The bulk of the deficit was made up with an advance from 4DVD, who have been incredibly supportive of the project in general. The final thing was to do a profit-sharing agreement with the animators, the incredibly talented powerhouse Rough Draft Studios. We also sold our bodies on street corners in Kentish Town. We didn’t make much money from that. Just lifelong friends.

What’s been the biggest challenges getting it made?

Stamina. It’s taken two years to get the full series finished. So it’s a lot of work. A lot of rewriting and a lot of time in the studio recording – trying out voices etc… Our lead artist Alex Scarfe had huge amounts of design work – backgrounds, characters, props… We also wanted it to be punchy so it had to go through a lot of lawyers to determine what we couldn’t say or show. Especially as we were featuring celebrities – from Simon Cowell to Princess Diana.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started Full English?

How much lawyers cost.

What next for Two Brothers?
We have several drama and comedy projects that we’ve written which we’re hoping will be officially green lit in the next couple of weeks. We also have several projects with some new, very exciting writers. We’re a boutique production company, and we have a small slate of projects we’re incredibly passionate about and will push to try and get on the air. As writers ourselves, we feel we’ve got a lot to add to the scripting process. In the right circumstances we’ll commission a script rather than a treatment, or a taster tape if we’re showcasing talent. We’re keen to keep developing comedy and drama equally – as long as it’s a good idea we’ll fight to get it made.

Tim Dams

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