Robert Cullen is as animated as the cartoons he creates.
He is the creative director of Boulder Media, the Dublin animation company behind the reboot of the 1980s children’s television favourite, Danger Mouse.
The first of 52 new episodes starring the debonair secret agent rodent aired on the BBC’s children’s channel yesterday evening, much to the delight of children in the UK and Ireland — and many parents as well who remember the original.
This ’80s cartoon about a secret agent mouse and his hamster friend Penfold was originally voiced by David Jason and Terry Scott. This time round, the voice is that of TV game show host Alexander Armstrong.
“Danger Mouse was a vivid childhood memory for me,” said 41-year-old Cullen yesterday, explaining how his company got the contract to animate the new series.
“It was a tender,” he told Ryan Tubridy on RTÉ radio. “The BBC approached us to put a pitch in. We put our heads together with our art director and redesigned ‘Danger Mouse’. I know the show from memory and got the feeling of what the new show would look like.”
The pitch worked and shortly afterwards the BBC contacted Boulder to say they had won the contract, Cullen explained, praising the talents and effort of the company’s animators.
“We have a studio in Dublin city centre and have 140 full-time staff working on three projects,” said Cullen.
The company was established in 2000 and has gone on to become one of Ireland’s largest animation studios, attracting high-profile projects and working with leading broadcasters such as Cartoon Network US (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends), Nickelodeon (El Tigre), the BBC (Funky Fables), and Disney.
In 2007, Cullen was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. And in 2008 one of Boulder’s animators, Monica Kennedy, was nominated for an Annie (the Oscars for animation), for Outstanding Character Animation in a TV Series for El Tigre.
The Amazing World of Gumball, co-produced by Boulder Media, has also been a huge success story.
“The last five years has been a boom,” said Cullen, explaining the success of the Irish animation industry.
“It is because there are not many studios that produce long format shows, as it takes two years to make one season of TV.
“Once you have made one show and, hopefully, done it well, the work comes back to you from broadcasters. Also, there is a talent pool in Ireland that seems to feed itself.”
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