BBC children's chief defends use of cartoons

ANNA HOME, head of children's programmes for BBC Television, yesterday came to the defence of cartoons and animation after this week's criticism in a report by the Broadcasting Standards Council.

'One ought to stand up for animation,' she said. 'Children enjoy it enormously. Animation at its best is an art form.'

She was speaking at the launch of her winter schedule, whose highlight is a new animated series, The Animals of Farthing Wood, based on the novels of Colin Dann, which is co-produced by 20 European broadcasters. The amount of animation on the BBC has more than doubled in the last 10 years until now it is about a fifth of the children's output.

Ms Home said she was annoyed that press coverage of the BSC report had singled out an excess of animation as a symbol of eroding standards. She believed that the BBC, whose budget for children's programmes is marginally up this year at pounds 38m, would continue to maintain diversity and innovation. She said: 'I'm worried about the way things might go on satellite and commercial TV in the new competitive environment. I wouldn't want the BBC to be the only provider of quality television for children.'

The Animals of Farthing Wood, which begins next month, was made by French and British animators at a cost of pounds 6m. It will be broadcast almost simultaneously across Europe to an estimated 60 million viewers in either dubbed or subtitled versions.

Other highlights of the new season will be a dramatisation of Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories and an edition of Newsround Extra that samples children's views of the monarchy.