Cone fusion: it could have been a cone-tender…

One of the greatest children’s tv programmes never to see the light of day was ‘The Cones’, an animation series about road cones. The initial idea to go down this road came from the boss of a plastic road cone factory in the UK – basically, his kids were winning fancy dress competitions dressed as road cones, their outfits being the largest size of his cone products. The other kids wanted a cone outfit too. Hmm, he thought, these cones have got legs… Lightbulb moment!

ConesOur animation company, giblets (Mike, Mike, Rob and Carol), took on the project. It showed great promise. We hired staff in our Kings Cross studio where we built sets, vehicles and Cone characters. It took around 2-3 months to animate and film. The wonderful Bernard Cribbins did the voices. About a year later we had a pilot episode, on the strength of which the series was sold all over the world, except in South Korea where they claimed model animation was dead. So apart from that, the future for Cones looked rosy…

Except cones are usually employed when there’s something like a hole in the road, in our case we found out there was a great big hole in the budget. The media money men had sold us short. Unfortunately this meant we couldn’t afford to produce the series to the quality as showcased in the pilot unless we worked for 1950s-level wages. We were told that quality didn’t matter. To us it did.

Sadly, the Cones were kicked into a financial black hole from which they’ll never escape, all that remains is this film (unseen for 26 years). Enjoy…


The Cones clip is copyright JSP Ltd.

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  1. #1 by Anonymous on February 9, 2014 - 11:18

    Brilliant Mike!

  2. #3 by Helen Laycock on February 9, 2014 - 14:24

    Bravo! Loved it, Mike!

    To think how different my childhood could have been, had The Cones featured in it…

    *starts fan club and visits nearby roadworks for suitable head attire*

    • #4 by mike olley on February 9, 2014 - 15:05

      Thank you, Helen.

      Tip for Cone headwear: choose a round one, not the triangular : )

  3. #5 by draliman on February 9, 2014 - 16:24

    It’s a travesty that never made it to our screens! It’s amazing how many words can be pronounced with “cone” in them :-)

    • #6 by mike olley on February 9, 2014 - 17:10

      Agreed, it was pun-reliant programme, all things cone-sidered :-)

      • #7 by draliman on February 9, 2014 - 17:11

        Groooan :-)

  4. #8 by tomsimard on February 9, 2014 - 16:47

    That was wonderful! A pity it wasn’t produced.

    • #9 by mike olley on February 9, 2014 - 17:13

      Thank you, Tom. In a parallel world the kids are going Cone crazy…

  5. #10 by lizy on February 11, 2014 - 10:08

    I wonder how many more such gems are lurking in the undergrowth at the side of a motorway?

    • #11 by mike olley on February 11, 2014 - 10:50

      I think ‘Lay-by Loopies’ and ‘Verge Varmints’ never got off the drawing board : )

  6. #12 by Matt Yates on April 25, 2014 - 22:11

    My brother and I and two friends sang the title song for this, we were so excited that we were going to be famous when it came out!!!! We recorded late one night at Abbey Road and when you are a kid to be recording in a place like that was amazing, happy days!! Shame it never made it to screen, and that I can’t get a copy of the title track anywhere – We were going to be so famous!

    • #13 by mike olley on April 27, 2014 - 16:03

      The title song was written by Bill Martin who certainly knew how to write a number one song (Puppet on a string / Back Home / Congratulations). Who knows what would have happened if… Matt, it’s difficult to have your hopes for fame dashed as a kid but at least you can say you recorded at Abbey Road, we were stuck in a King’s Cross warehouse! If I had a copy of the song I’d give it to you. Thanks for getting in touch!

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