Lyme resident receives BAFTA for lifetime in children’s television

Lyme Regis resident Clive Juster with his BAFTA Award and a figurine of Mr Benn (photo by Richard Austin)

LYME Regis resident Clive Juster – who was editor of the popular ‘Mr Benn’ children’s television series – has received one of the highest honours from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Mr Juster was presented with the Special Award at the British Academy Children’s Awards, held at The Roundhouse in London on November 25.

The BAFTA Award was presented for a life devoted to children’s television. Clive grew up in London and originally trained as an architect but chose not to pursue this field.

He had always enjoyed making films on his father’s 8mm camera, so he decided to go back to college to study film and photography, landing him a job as a trainee editor at the BBC. He worked for some time as film editor on BBC’s ‘Play School’ before moving to Axminster to take over the family business in property.

While living in Devon, he created a cutting room in his spare bedroom and continued to work as a freelance editor.

When a friend from college called and asked him to take over his role editing new children’s TV show ‘Mr Benn’, little did Clive know that the series would become his lasting legacy, still popular today as it approaches its 50th anniversary.

Clive worked closely with ‘Mr Benn’ creator David McKee and the pair became great friends. He later went on to set up an antiques business in Honiton, but returned to children’s television on David’s suggestion, and together they set up King Rollo Films, based on a series of books David had been writing.

Joined by animator Leo Nielsen, they created the first episode of ‘King Rollo’ and took it to the BBC, where they were asked to make a whole series. Animated children’s television was a novelty at the time, and the series also sold to 20 countries across the world.

Clive became producer at King Rollo Films and has continued editing, producing and directing ever since, with other series under his belt including ‘Spot The Dog’, ‘Towser’, ‘Maisie Mouse’ and ‘Paz’. Most have been based on children’s books, with David writing a lot of the material for their work over the years.

Speaking on their original series, Mr Juster said: “‘Mr Benn’ still keeps me very busy. It was shot on film, all hand drawn and everything moved by hand. It gave it a distinctive look that is very different to what we see today. It was all homemade in our backroom whereas now you have big teams and modern technology.

“Our latest things have been done with digital animation, which make them look quite superb.”

It will be the 50th anniversary of the first screening of ‘Mr Benn’ in 2021 and there are plans for a feature film and even an opera in the pipeline.

This is the second BAFTA Mr Juster has received, having won an award in 2002 for ‘Maisie Mouse’. He said this Special Award came as a complete surprise, as he had always considered himself a “backroom boy”.

He received news of the award a month before the star-studded ceremony, and was presented with the honour by his friend Anne Wood, creator of the Teletubbies.

Mr Juster, who moved from Axminster to Lyme Regis last year, commented: “It was very nice to be recognised. I’m very lucky that I have worked on some beautiful things over my working life with some fantastic and very talented people.

“Great actors and musicians have contributed to our films over the years. It’s been a lot of fun!”

Woodmead Halls

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