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Star names voice UCLan animation

04 December 2012

Rachel Atkinson

Screenwriting lecturer and graduate create top film

Renowned actors Bill Nighy and Frances Barber are the famous voices behind a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) animated creation.

The well-known actors voice a husband and wife in Placebo, a short animated film written and directed by lecturer Sarah Evans and animated by recent graduate Tom Cowell.

Sarah, a screenwriting academic at the Preston Campus, wrote the script nine years ago. The 11 minute film shows a world-weary Graham living in rather quiet frustration, until his belief in a magical gift for his wife re-ignites his passion for love and life.

“It was nearly made a couple of times but for one reason or another it didn’t happen,” said Sarah. “Tom was a screenwriting graduate from this year and I discovered his talents for animation. He was up for the challenge and we started work straightaway.”

The duo landed the actors thanks to their connections and social media.

“We’ve watched it so many times but every time we see it there’s something different that catches our eye”

Sarah said: “Bill Nighy had been to the University a couple of months earlier so I contacted his PA, asked if there was any chance he could do it as I knew he was busy, and thankfully he loved the script and was free. One week later we were in a London recording studio and he was absolutely fantastic.”

Screenwriting graduate Tom, who comes from Preston, added: “I knew someone who’d worked with Frances on Doctor Who and thought it was worth sending a Tweet on the off-chance she was free. She got back straightaway and was up for it.”


“It’s been a long, hard road but the end product is even better than I ever imagined”


Tom developed the animation over a period of months and, after completing the music and sound design, the film was ready by the end of October.

He said: “We’ve watched it so many times but every time we see it there’s something different that catches our eye. I’ve loved working on this and hopefully it’s the start of many more exciting animation projects.”

Sarah added: “I’m thrilled with the final film. It’s been a long, hard road but the end product is even better than I ever imagined.”

It was previewed at the University last week and is set to have its premiere in Liverpool in the New Year.