Oliver Ellis loves a good story and has a knack for what kids like to watch. He tells us how he has combined the two to carve out a fulfilling career.
|Degree Course||English Literature|
|Year of Graduation||1988|
Your time at the University
I chose Edinburgh because it offered a number of courses that I was interested in and the flexibility to mix and match between them. Also, the city is a spectacular place to be with the streets steeped in stories, and because the nightlife was promising.
There are so many memories - walking to the Scottish library in January wearing what were then described as camel shoes and having the wet from the pavement seep through the soles of my shoes and into my socks; walking around Carlton Hill and Arthur’s Seat and watching the sun go down; walking to the Edinburgh Playhouse fully dressed up for the Rocky Horror Show; walking around Edinburgh everywhere in fact.
Pollock Halls, my room there and my own personal makeshift fridge that was simply a plastic bag with the milk in it, hanging out the window; summer days in the Meadows walking through from my flat in Marchmont to George Square; tuna pasta salad and beer at the Pear Tree pub; skipping off to Leith to have Pimms at the Waterfront; mine and my tutor’s delight in the cut and thrust of our debate during our tutorials; midnight curries and pizzas on the Royal Mile after we’d painted the flat; endless cups of tea and Kitkats at the café in the George Square library; and my matriculation at McEwan Hall where the girls behind me poked me in the back for making them go and have Pimms in Leith.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I started in children’s publishing, then moved into the world of TV and during the next 23 years, I gradually started to specialise in kids’ TV. Part of that time was working with the famous UK animation studio, Cosgrove Hall Films, makers of Dangermouse, Count Duckula and Wind in the Willows.
It was great fun working with them and developing new shows such as Albie, Fetch the Vet and Foxbusters, which went on to win the Kids Bafta in 2000.
Now I run my own company, Hoho Entertainment, based in London and it’s been going for almost four years. We produce our own shows and sell them worldwide as well as the accompanying rights for licensed product such as books, toys, DVDs, Apps, and games. Starting my own company has been a real career highlight and I am very proud of completing production on our CG animated preschool series Cloudbabies in 2013.
Starting my own company has been a real career highlight and I am very proud of completing production on our CG animated preschool series Cloudbabies in 2013.
It was a real labour of love and we made it all in the UK which is a real achievement nowadays. It airs on Cbeebies where it pulls in record numbers of viewers both in terms of broadcast viewership and iPlayer downloads, and it’s also selling very nicely abroad. But we can’t be complacent. Animation particularly is a costly business and we are always on the lookout for partners who would like to co-invest in our new slate of ideas and help bring them to market.
English was always the subject I did well in and the ability to analyse and shape an argument has stood me in good stead in my career. The University of Edinburgh certainly honed my skills in that department. A love of stories led me to Edinburgh and subsequently led me to embark into the world of children’s content. I don’t think that will go away.
Stick to the subject you are passionate about studying. If you are passionate about something, you are much more likely to be good at it as well.