Illustration students produce original animations for BBC Great British Menu final

Animations created by students from BA(Hons) Illustration will have a nationwide audience tonight (Friday 31 March) when they are shown as part of the final of the BBC’s Great British Menu.

In honour of Paddington Bear’s 65th birthday the theme of this series is animation and illustration, with the four finalists cooking a banquet at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion for stars including Illustration alumna and Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell and Sir Lenny Henry.

students were invited to enter a competition to have their animations featured in the show with the intention of one winning entry, however, the standard was so strong that the BBC decided to include the work of three students: Abby French, Hannah Westall, and Gemma Clark were selected to take part.

The University was initially approached due to its world-famous reputation for its Visual Communication courses.  As well as Cressida Cowell past illustration staff and students include Author and Illustrator Raymond Briggs, Illustrator George Hardie, Author, illustrator and Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, Comic Laureate Hannah Berry and Portrait Artist of the Year runner up Sarah Lavelle,

Roderick Mills, Course Leader for Illustration at the University, mentored the students throughout the process, which he described as a “great real-world project”.

He said: “It was a great professional experience for the students, being shortlisted and then needing to complete the animations over the Christmas vacation. The illustrators needed to learn new software and edit to music over the Christmas break, all within a short timeframe. This is something that we encourage on the course, to condense the timeframe of our projects into something more akin to the expectations of the creative industry.”

For the students themselves, it has also been an unforgettable project Gemma Clark said: “It felt great to work hard on something and take part in something as special and rewarding as the banquet – and I await my inevitable stardom now with excitement.”

As well as seeing their work on display, the students also had the chance to sample the chefs’ food as guests at the banquet – which Roderick described as “very exciting for them and a highlight for me!”

Previous episodes have seen the chefs produce elaborate culinary creations inspired by cartoon characters from Dennis the Menace to Bananaman, and Banksy’s Balloon Girl to the BFG. Tonight, viewers will see the four remaining finalists – whittled down from the 32 chefs who began the competition – producing a four-course banquet with dishes inspired by the Beano, The Dandy, the artwork of Radiohead’s album A Moon-Shaped Pool, and the Gruffalo, with one chef crowned champion of champions by the judges.

The Great British Menu will be shown on BBC2 at 9pm on Friday 31 March 2023, after which it will be available on iPlayer.

Find out more about BA(Hon) Illustration

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