Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Merry Christmas from the REAL Tiny Tim

Spot the Difference
Way back in 1971 my Dad's animation studio at no. 13 Soho Square in London took on their biggest project to date - a TV adaptation of Charles Dickens'  A Christmas Carol. The 22 minute TV special was produced by Chuck Jones and many scenes were animated by Ken Harris, one of Chuck's star animators from Road Runner days.

Poster for the 1971 Christmas Carol
Dickens' story proved perfect for animation. Art Director Roy Naisbitt designed hugely complex background layouts, creating a sense of the grime, squalor and claustrophobia of 19th century London. The style of the film was based on the illustrated Punch cartoons of the 19th century, similar to the animated interludes in The Charge of the Light Brigade which the studio had completed a few years earlier.
Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim
Voice talent was provided by many leading actors including Alastair Sim and Vanessa Redgrave. But who would play Tiny Tim? Good child actors are notoriously hard to find and even harder to work with. Step forward the four year old son of the director - ie me, confidently seizing the microphone. Sort of.

In fact, I don't remember much about the experience at all, not even recording the lines. The only part I actually do remember (dimly) is the ice cream cone which was the reward for my labours. Years later, as an annoying teenager, much to my discredit, I demanded further payment - which my father (to his much greater credit) indulgingly provided, giving me £100 to stop complaining.
"God bless us every one" 
Sadly, this early acting promise was not be sustained, and my voice-over career (apart from a few scratch audio performances, long since discarded) has progressed no further. Oddly enough though I just received an email from a fan of the film, requesting a signed photo, and asking "was Tiny Tim by chance modeled after you when you were a child?" Well, yes - sort of.

The oddest thing about The Christmas Carol is how diffcult it is to get hold of a copy. When I was a kid it was broadcast on TV every Christmas, but try finding a DVD copy today and you are out of luck. Your only chance is the low-resolution YouTube clips below.

Anyone out there own a better quality version?

---- Alex