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UCA alumnus wins BAFTA Children’s Award for second year running

UCA alumnus Grant Orchard has secured his second successive Children’s BAFTA Award for the pre-school animation Hey Duggee.

Fighting off stiff competition – which included fellow UCA alumnus and Peppa Pig creator Mark Baker – Farnham graduate Grant was once again named the winner of the Pre-School Animation category at last night’s awards ceremony (Sunday 26 November).

Speaking to us after he was awarded the accolade last year, Grant said: “I’ve worked on commercials and short films for nearly 20 years but I’ve never done anything as demanding as an animated series before. It’s relentless but also incredible fun.

“I can’t quite gauge how long one episode takes as all the stages overlap. For the first series, we had just under two years to produce 52 seven-minute episodes. The first episode we started was called Birdwatching and it was the last one we delivered. We learnt and developed so many aspects of the show as we went along that the first episodes had to be almost completely redone. The visuals and style and pacing all tighten up the more you work on it.”

“There’s a core team of around 25 people who have worked on it over the last three years. Apart from the scriptwriters, we all work on one floor of Studio AKA - storyboarders, editors, animators, producers and designers. It’s quite a close knit working environment.”

Hey Duggee is produced by Studio AKA, where Grant works as a senior director, and is aimed at children between the ages of two and five. Broadcast on CBeebies, the series follows the activities of character Duggee, a scoutmaster and leader of the Squirrel Club. Each episode sees the characters learn a new skill and earn one of Duggee’s badges. Since its release in 2014, Hey Duggee, which is narrated by actor and presenter Alexander Armstrong, has recorded an impressive 79 episodes across two series.

Grant is no stranger to creating award-winning work. His short film A Morning Stroll won the BAFTA in 2012 and was nominated for an Oscar in the same year. This is the third successive year that Hey Duggee has been nominated in the Children’s BAFTA Pre-School Animation category.