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Facts & figures

The UK animation workforce

The workforce increased by 53% between 2004 and 2012, with around 4,600 people in employment in 2012.

Just under half of the industry (45%) in 2012 was made up by those employed in business management, strategic management and production.

The proportion of the animation workforce based outside London between 2004–2012 was 44%. Previously there had been a greater number of people based outside of the capital. The highest concentration of animation professionals outside of London can be found in Bristol (18%) and Wales (11%).

For more information about the animation workforce, read the 2012 Creative Skillset Employment census of the Creative Media Industries.

Tax relief and animation programmes

A number of UK screen sectors have attracted tax breaks for productions since April 2013. Tax breaks for the film sector (FTR) have directly benefited the animation industry in terms of feature animation – but that is only a part of the UK industry.

TV animation programmes made for children and adults are also a significant sector of the UK industry and this screen sector also attracted tax relief (ATR) for productions. Recent figures for this specific sector show that in 2013 the animation programme sector:

  • supported the equivalent of 1,300 full time roles (FTEs) through direct employment;
  • contributed £54m in direct GVA.

GVA or gross value added is used to measure the contribution to the economy of an industry or sector in the UK. Taking account of the total economic contribution (including multiplier and spillover effects) the animation programme sector in 2013:

  • supported 4,700 FTEs of employment;
  • generated £171m in GVA;
  • contributed £52m to the exchequer.

Multiplier and spillover effects relate to the wider economic impact of the sector, including:

  • the impact of the purchase of goods and services from other sectors in the animation programmes supply chain
  • the economic benefits from those employed in the animation programmes sector then spending their earnings and the impact animation programming IP generates in the UK’s retail sector through sales of licensed merchandise and in the tourism sector through the promotion of the UK brand abroad and inward visits to theme parks.

As an example of this, Astley Baker Davies' Peppa Pig brand retains huge global value, generating around £200m in UK sales of licensed products each year, which is 150 times its original production budget.

Animation production tends to have a longer lead in time than other TV genres – often two years or more – and productions draw a much larger share of revenue and economic returns from downstream programme sales, merchandising and other licensing activities. So the impact of the current tax breaks may not be fully realised for some time.

However the introduction of tax relief from April 2013 would appear to have given a promising initial boost of over 10% to production spend in the animation programmes sector.

While there is no direct data on the annual levels of animation programme production in the UK prior to the introduction of the ATR… a confidential survey of UK animation companies ... indicated that the level of animation programme production in the UK in 2011 was approximately £46m. The fact that animation programme production expenditures during 2013-14 were £51.7m suggests that the additionality rate during the first year of the ATR was 11%.”  
(Extract from Economic Contribution of the UK’s Film, High-End TV, Video Game and Animation Programming Sectors, Olsberg SPI with Nordicity, February 2015)

For more information about the success of the animation sector, read the Economic Contribution of the UK’s Film, High-End TV, Video Game  and Animation Programming Sectors report. This report was presented to the BFI, Pinewood Shepperton plc, Ukie, the British Film Commission and Pact by Olsberg SPI with Nordicity in February 2015

For an overview of the cultural and economic importance of animation, read Animation UK: Securing the Future of UK animation, published in 2011.

Most popular animated character in the 2000s

In 2014, The Telegragh launched a poll with the Radio Times and BFI to find Britain's favourite BBC children's TV character. The poll spanned six decades of broadcasting and the reader votes for the 2000s decade favoured characters from the following animated TV series:

  • Shaun the Sheep, produced by Aardman Animation
  • Charlie and Lola, produced by Tiger Aspect
  • The Octonauts, produced by Brown Bag Films/Silvergate Media
  • The Adventures of Abney & Teal, produced by Ragdoll Productions
  • Rastamouse, produced by Rastamouse Company
  • Tree Fu Tom, produced by Blue-Zoo Productions/Freemantle Media
  • Sarah and Duck, produced by Karrot Entertainment
  • Strange Hill High, produced by Freemantle Media

Top 10 UK animated feature films

In 2015, the European Audiovisual Observatory produced the Focus on Animation report on behalf of the European Commission. This report tracked the production volume, distribution and circulation of European animation films and TV works and provides a general overview of the structure of the animation industry.

The report lists the following top ten UK film productions based on admissions in the United Kingdom during the period 2010 - 2014:

  • Paddington, produced by Heyday Films and StudioCanal
  • Arthur Christmas, produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, produced by Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation
  • Gnomeo and Juliet, produced by Touchstone Pictures, Rocket Pictures, 
    Miramax Films
  • Postman Pat: The Movie, produced by DreamWorks, RGH Pictures, Timeless Films
  • Moshi Monsters: The Movie, produced by Mind Candy and Spider Eye Productions
  • L'illusioniste, produced by Django Films and Pathé
  • Thomas & Friends: King Of The Railway, produced by HIT Entertainment
  • Thomas & Friends: Tale Of The Brave, produced by HIT Entertainment
  • Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery, produced by HIT Entertainment