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Crystal Tipps and Alistair

Posted by Big Boo on August 5th, 2009

crystal tipps and alistairMade in the early 1970’s, Crystal Tipps and Alistair was still being shown whenever the childrens TV schedule had a five minute gap well into the 1980’s.  The cartoon was about a girl called Crystal Tipps who wore a tiny yellow and green striped dress and had the biggest shock of curly purple hair you’ve ever seen.  Always at her side was her lumbering canine pal Alistair, who always looked a bit dopey and often got teased mercilessly by Ms. Tipps.

The show was created by Hilary Hayton who was a designer at the BBC.  Interestingly it was Crystal Tipps name that came first, as Hilary noticed the name Crystal Tips on an ice machine in the BBC canteen!  In the late 1960’s Hilary designed a young girl and her dog, and so with an extra “p” Crystal Tipps and Alistair was born, and their first adventure was created as an entry for an internal BBC competition.

Hilary’s work was noticed and in time she was asked to create a full series, which eventually amassed into 50 five minute episodes, and a longer Christmas special.

The cartoon proved popular not just in the UK but abroad as well, which was due in part to the simple stories portrayed, but mainly it was down to the fact that there was no dialogue.  Each episode was set to music composed by Paul Reade, so there was no language translation required when selling the show to other countries.

Crystal Tipps and Alistair was animated using what I call the “cardboard cutout” technique, which involves the arms, legs, body and head all being separate pieces which can then be moved around little by little in order to make a character perform.  Other shows to employ this method include Pigeon Street, King Rollo and Ivor the Engine.  This leads to characters normally having very stiff legged movements, more leaping than walking across the screen.

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