Children's favourite Morph to return to screens

Morph first appeared on television screens in 1977.
Morph first appeared on television screens in 1977.
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With his flexible limbs and appetite for mischief, he became essential for viewing for a generation of children.

Now, Morph, the simple clay hero who long served as the late artist Tony Hart’s trusty television sidekick, is set to return to the screens.

Peter Lord, the co-creator of the beloved character, has confirmed a new series is being made, decades after Morph’s heyday.

Speaking during a holiday to Orkney, where he took the opportunity to photograph Morph posing at well-known locations around the archipelago, such as St Magnus Cathedral, the co-founder of the Aardman Animations studio said work awas already underway to prepare for a new run of episodes.

He told BBC Radio Orkney: “It's so new, I can't reveal where it'll be but, yes, a five-minute series. I think maybe fifteen five-minute stories. As we speak, back at the studio in Bristol, they're building the sets in readiness."

Originally created in 1977 by Mr Lord and David Sproxton, Morph first appeared on the BBC children's art programme, Take Hart, alongside Mr Hart, who died in 2009.

He appeared in no fewer than seven different programmes over the course of the next two decades, the best known of which also featured Mr Hart. They included Hartbeat, which was broadcast between 1984 and 1993.

After a lengthy absence, Morph returned to television in 2015 with a run of 15 short episodes on the popular BBC children’s channel, CBBC. The episodes were also made available on YouTube.

Ahead of his second comeback in as many years, Mr Lord admitted his habit of taking photographs of Morph in unusual locations had inspired a niche craze which saw people making their own replicas of Morph and doing something similar.

He admitted, however, that the quality control of the clay work was not always up to his high standards.

“It's lovely, it's a charming thing which I totally encourage. But some people aren't actually very good at it,” he explained.

"So you get all kinds of weird mutant Morphs appearing around the place, on top of the Empire State building, or something like that. But it's good fun. I love it."

Mr Lord explained that making a single Morph episode, done using traditional stop motion animation techniques, was a laborious labour of love.

He said it takes an animated a full day to shoot just six seconds of footage, describing it as a “slow” process which means each five minute feature takes around 50 months to complete.

"With Morph, and with Wallace and Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep, we've developed this idea that it is a proper performance," he added.

"And the viewer needs to understand what they're thinking and feeling. Because that's where comedy comes from.

“It's visual comedy. You have to do it all by body, expressions, and good visual joke telling. So I look at Buster Keaton films and Charlie Chaplin films, to remember what great silent comedy can be."