This February saw a legend make his way to the big screen with Shaun the Sheep: The Movie. Aardman’s much loved mute sheep made his way from Mossy Bottom Farm to The Big City with a blistering feature film debut.
Timmy Time see’s the young sheep set out on his own away from Mossy Bottom Farm to attend nursery with a group of equally cute toddler creatures. Timmy is joined by a small duck, owl, pig, donkey and badger and as well as two teachers to learn the everyday lessons of life. In each ten minute episode Timmy interacts with his friends to overcome the trials life throws at him and his young friends. From learning to dance and getting hiccups all events are portrayed with humour and warmth.
The formation of Timmy Time has a long backstory in the archives of Aardman Studios. Timmy’s uncle Shaun the Sheep first appeared in the early short incarnation of Wallace and Gromit. A Close Shave introduced the mute but loveable Shaun to audience’s. He proved so popular that Shaun eventually spawned his own spin off programme. Shaun the Sheep saw its main character living on Mossy Bottom Farm with an unsuspecting farmer and his own flock. The flock consisted of Shaun as well as the youngest member of the flock his toddler cousin Timmy. The baby member of the group idolised his uncle and was seen in the show causing mischief on the farm.
Similar to the format of Shaun the Sheep none of the characters can talk but instead communicate through a signature sound and gestures. For Timmy this is baaa, for his duck friend this is quack and so on and so forth for each animal. To have a programme where the main characters cannot talk is a huge obstacle but with Timmy, Shaun and arguably their most famous creation Gromit, the studio are able to convey brilliant stories without the aid of dialogue.
The stories and scenarios within the show are what you would expect for a child’s programme. Timmy is met with simple obstacles such as the class photo, sports day, playing games as well as a nursery talent show. All are simple and relatable enough yet it is the characters and approach that make Timmy Time different from other such programmes.
The great things about the show and really Aardman’s body of work is that it does not patronise its audience. So many current children’s shows have opted for the sickly sweet, and wholesome American format. This style is indeed popular but its determination to portray all things in black and white, without the slightest hint of cheekiness or off colour humour, can be boring for such a diverse audience. Although Timmy Time never includes anything inappropriate for its young viewers, it has a cheeky edge that other such programmes lack.
The show is yet another example of Aardman’s animation craftsmanship. You will never hear or talk of Aardman without a mention to their beautiful style of animation. Distinctively their own the company began with predominantly Claymation stop-motion yet have grown to incorporate models as well as traditional clay. Such element’s as their signature fingerprints and dry sense of humour are always present whether it is in the television, film or even advertising work.
The show also continues Aardman’s tradition of cheeky television. Although the pre-school show has excluded the usual level of in-jokes and innuendo, (still present in their films) it centres on a cheeky and mischievous centre in Timmy. The programme feels beneficial to its young audience who are now bombarded with surreal pre-school programming. It has a moral centre as well as great humour and is frankly just the cutest thing in the world to watch.
The show may be aimed at a pre-school audience but is a joy for anyone to watch. Displaying not just Aardman’s wonderful craftsmanship but also its sense of cheekiness and British take on things. A refreshing changed from the sickly sweet and frankly pointless television options for young audiences today.
For those new to the world according to Timmy watch his episode Timmy Can’t Dance, he gets down with his lamb self!!!