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   Inside Out - North West: Monday February 6, 2006

Ticket Touts

Take That live on stage
Take That - but will ticket holders get to see the band?

From Coldplay to Take That, Inside Out investigates the dangers of buying concert tickets from some online dealers.

Ticket holders

Manchester's MEN Arena is the busiest concert venue in the world.

Thousands of people come here from all over the country to see their musical heroes.

But Inside Out found out, not everyone who thinks they've bought a ticket will be able to get in.

Ticket touts outside the venue are selling tickets for at least two or three times their value, which is nothing new.

However there are other people who have bought tickets from internet sites who are in for a nasty shock.

Inside Out spoke to disappointed punters who had ordered tickets over the Internet

Some of those we spoke with had paid £161 for £30 standing tickets.

They were told to come and meet someone by the box office, and obviously they haven't shown.

Music fans who were guaranteed tickets were furious:

"We've ordered tickets on the Internet and he's not turned up - we paid £194 for two tickets. They emailed me this morning to say he'd be here tonight and he's not. I'm gutted." Disappointed ticket buyer.

"It's very difficult because the Internet can make things look very official so when you go on line it all sounds very official.

"It's very easy to be taken in by them and a lot of consumers are taken in once but not twice."
Rob Ballantine, SJM.

Online sales

Concert promoters like Rob Ballantine authorise agencies to sell their tickets online and on the phone.

However, there's nothing they can do to stop these tickets being bought by unofficial agents who'll then sell them on at a premium.

"Currently we're working with the Office of Fair Trade and various other bodies to curtail the activity, but really we know the only answer lies in making it illegal to sell on concert tickets.

"The general public are getting ripped off and it has to stop because someone has to take the voice of the consumer to the government and that's what we're hoping to do."

Back at the Arena, there seems to be some good news for Michaela and her daughter.

Woman with ticket
Ticket to gig? Getting a ticket for Take That is tough

They're delighted to finally contact their agency rep who's brought them some tickets - but they're not in the seats they were promised.

The tickets have a face value of £25 and are behind the stage with a restricted view - but at this late stage they're so desperate to get in to the gig, they'll accept anything.

Rob Ballantine from SJM Promotions says, "I think the fans should get to know their own website that's an official website and continue to buy from the agencies that they know and trust because that's the only way to guarantee seats and the best seats every time".

Take That

TICKET TOUTING

The National Arenas Association estimate that touts can account for up to 20 per cent of the ticket supply on best selling shows.

Professional-looking websites confuse would-be customers who are unable to tell the difference between official and unofficial suppliers - at least prior to purchase if not afterwards.

In November 2005 Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport hosted a summit in London to discuss the issues, describing the victims of ticket touts as "casualties".

The meeting was called in response to increasing concerns at the levels of malpractice, misrepresentation and rip-offs that are often generated in the secondary ticketing market, particularly via the Internet

Take That were the biggest boy band of all time, and they broke a million teenager hearts when the split up 10 years ago, so there was some hysteria when they recently announced that they were going back on the road.

One of the ways some fans have tried to beat the queues at the box office has been to shop for tickets online.

And there are plenty of agencies out there willing to get music fans to part with my hard earned cash.

Inside Out saw prices quoted anywhere from £89 to £577 - and these are for tickets with a face value of £25 to £35.

These agencies say they can guarantee buyers a seat despite the fact that the tickets don't officially go on sale until the next morning.

So what's going on?

"Those tickets don't exist. When they are selling the tickets before they are released, they do not have those tickets and they are trading fraudulently," says promoter Rob Ballantine.

"And there's very little we can do about it. There are laws to say you can't trade in goods that you don't have. But by the time it comes to court and you process it, the concerts will have been announced and they will have got hold of their tickets by queuing up and paying other people to queue up and using the multi phone dial methods etc

"So by the time we get to court, they'll produce the tickets they have. What I would say is people should never ever buy a ticket without knowing exactly where they're sat - block, row, seat number, but these people will never ever advertise them because they don't exist in their possession." Rob Ballantine.

Hot ticket

The tickets for Take That's reunion tour end up being the hottest in town - it's a record breaking morning for the MEN Arena.

All six shows are sold out - a staggering 80,000 tickets.

So how does the venue and promoter stop tickets getting into the hands of touts?

"It's very difficult because touting's not illegal so anything you do you're just papering over the cracks until someone comes and makes it illegal," says the Arena's box office manager Andy Yates.

Coldplay
Just the ticket - but Internet sales aren't always reliable

"Basically you're fighting a losing battle. We have got quite a few things in place where we can try and cut down on the number of touts by limiting the number of tickets that one person can buy.

"For Take that we limited it to eight. We also use a bar coding system so anyone who's got an illegal ticket will not get through the doors.

"We can keep a check on anyone we know is buying in bulk and try and stop them buying in the future but it is very very difficult."

Until there's legislation in place there's nothing to protect people who turn up for the concert and are unable to get in as their tickets simply hadn't materialised.

The best advice for ticket buyers is to go only to a recognised outlet.

All of the people Inside Out interviewed who didn't get tickets have been offered refunds from the unauthorised ticket agencies - who at the moment are acting perfectly within the law.

But that still doesn't make up for the fact that they were left disappointed and angry.

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Cosgrove Hall

Noddy
Magic makers - Cosgrove and Hall's Noddy

Cosgrove Hall animation studios in Chorlton is where some of the nation's favourite children's cartoons have been created - classics like 'DangerMouse', 'Noddy' and now 'Fifi and the Flowertots'.

As Cosgrove Hall celebrates its 30th anniversary Inside Out's Jacey Normand goes on a behind-the-scenes tour of the studios to meet some of the stars of kids TV.

Home of animation

Cosgrove Hall have been making hit shows since 1976 and it's now the largest animation studio in Europe.

Cosgrove and Hall in 1970s
Cosgrove and Hall struck up a partnership in the 1970s

Today Cosgrove Hall makes children's television programmes which are shown all over the world, and it takes teams of animators to create favourites like 'Fifi and the Flowertots' and 'Postman Pat'.

Co-founders Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall set up the studios in an old warehouse in Chorlton in 1976.

For them it was the realisation of a dream which had started, of all places, in Brian's garden shed:

"I remember somebody found out and named it the magic shed… and in a way it was because that's where the dream started because in truth it was very hard work, working full-time in television and working on backgrounds at night for Brian in that shed." Mark Hall.

Their first big hit on TV was the aptly named 'Chorlton and the Wheelies'.

It was followed by the 'Wind in the Willows' which remains very special to the duo till this day:

"It was a very big favourite of mine from my childhood.

"The characters were sensational, you know - Edwardian gentlemen basically... for me 3D animation is better when, you get characters that come from an animal background rather than a human background."

Breakthrough

Cosgrove Hall's big breakthrough came in 1981 when 'DangerMouse' hit the screens. The show was a huge success.

"The nearest thing I can say in talking about 'DangerMouse' was it was pure us," says Brian Cosgrove.

"It was barmy... it's the barminess of the story lines that were the essence of 'DangerMouse', and then, of course, the voice qualities - David Jason was fantastic as DangerMouse and Terry Scott was wonderful as Penfold."

Jane Horrocks
Voice behind the character - Jane Horrocks

Animation has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Nowadays all the drawn animation is done on computer, much of it using the latest CGI techniques.

Animators at the studio are currently busy working on the next series of the award-winning 'Fifi and the Flowertots', which Cosgrove Hall makes for 'Bob the Builder' creators Chapman Entertainment.

Each scene has to be shot frame by frame and incredibly it takes an entire day to shoot just 12 seconds.

It take a long time to make just one episode.

"It depends on how much action is going on within the story. If there's a lot of action it could take more than a week and a half, but normally two weeks, fingers crossed, with no hiccups," say the team.

Fifi is being voiced by British actress Jane Horrocks:

"… she's very earthy and she works in a garden and makes cakes and, you know, works with compost. She's such a sweet character."

Famous puppets

Bridget Appleby has been involved in the creation of many of Cosgrove Hall's most famous stop-frame puppets.

She has her own distinctive style:

Mark Hall and creations
Mark Hall- making memorable animated films

"I hope what you see in them is quality because it's quality stuff. I like to try and give a different look to every show that comes in.

"We don't have a visual style. It depends on the project.

"It surprises me when people come into this room here and they recognise various characters and they say they've grown up with them, shared their childhood with them.

"For them not to forget those characters and for me to have had a hand in giving them those memories is a great privilege."

Dream factory

There's all kinds of amazing things happening at Cosgrove Hall.

There's even a puppet hospital, and Inside Out watches as Fifi has some emergency dental work.

In the world of animation every second counts so a team of puppet specialists make sure Fifi's fixed up and ready to return to the set as quickly as possible.

There's also an extensive puppet wardrobe.

Bill and Ben
Every character is costumed and cared for

All the costumes are made in house based on approved designs from Cosgrove's clients.

The costume team goes shopping to find the right fabrics, the right scale, print and colour.

One of the character's hats, for example, came from a pair of old jeans bought in an Oxfam shop. Jumpers are often made from socks.

All the characters have their own wardrobes and their outfits are washed and ironed like human beings.

There are seven animators on 'Postman Pat' and another seven on 'Fifi and the Flowertots', so there's a lot of handling of the puppets on a daily basis.

So there's an awful lot of washing, ironing maintenance work including repairing worn out costumes and replacing lost buttons.

Thirty years of excellence

Cosgrove Hall has come a long way from Brian and Mark's 'magic shed' thirty years ago.

"I think Mark and Brian are exceptional men. They brought this company on from nothing, literally nothing, and against all advice they've built it into a major powerhouse of animation around the world."
Anthony Utley, Managing Director of Cosgrove Hall Films.

From their modest roots with 'Chorlton and the Wheelies' 30 years ago, the shows have now been seen by millions of viewers in over 120 countries worldwide.

That's a fantastic achievement for this North West animation team.

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Lost photographs

Lee Jones' Photo of poor people
Man of the people - Lee Jones documented working class life

Actor Simon O'Brien gets exclusive access to a treasure trove of previously lost photographs taken by a Liverpool philanthropist who dedicated his life to feeding the poor in the last century.

Snap happy

A fascinating collection of photographs has just been unearthed in Liverpool showing life more than 100 years ago.

The photographs depict a bygone era and show the grinding poverty of life on Liverpool's streets.

The images were captured by one man - Herbert Lee Jackson Jones - a young man who was horrified at the deprivation he witnessed in the north end of the city.

At the turn of the last century, he used his family's money to set up the League of Welldoers in premises just off Scotland Road.

His mission? To feed and clothe the poor.

Champion of the poor

Lee Jones was a philanthropist, photographer, and all round champion of the socially underprivileged.

He set up the Lee Jones Centre - affectionately known as Lee Jones's - which is still going strong today.

It helps to provide a square meal for hundreds of people at a very affordable price - £1.50 for two courses and a cup of tea.

Despite changes in the Welfare State the centre continues to play an important role in the local community:

"A lot of the services we originally provided have been taken over by the welfare state so it's about the social needs of our folks.

"A lot of the people who came here as children now they're here as pensioners so we're still helping them by providing them with subsidised meals just as Lee Jones did." Lesley Black, Lee Jones Centre Manager.

Captured in time

Staff at the centre were amazed when they came across their founder's collection of photographs.

Children playing
Fascinating archive - a slice of life captured on film

They were still in the same envelopes that they came in from the chemist with Lee Jones' name on them.

So the staff at the centre decided they had to do something with the thousands of pictures..

They consulted an archivist in the John Lewis Partnership who offered advice about how to set up a resource where the photographs can be seen.

John Lewis is allowing a member of its staff, Janet Bird, six months secondment to sort through the photos.

They're then hoping to scan the photographs onto a digital medium - they hope to set up a resource centre which people can use to find out more about local history.

The resource will be a fitting tribute to Lee Jones who worked tirelessly for the poor.

Straight Talk

As well as taking photographs and organising the Well Doers, Lee Jones also found time to publish his own newspaper - Straight Talk.

It was a local reflection on what was happening in society.

Once again it was designed to draw attention to the problems of poverty and deprivation on Liverpool's streets.

Most of the articles were written by Lee but under different names.

Today only a few people really remember Lee Jones and what he did for children and the people in Liverpool.

Peggy Tully is 91-years-old but remembers Lee Jones like it was yesterday:

"He was a saint he really was - goodness oozed out of him."

She thinks that his photographs are amazing, and provide a fantastic record of what life used to be like.

"I can't believe I actually lived there - I never thought I'd see pics," she says.

Lasting legacy

It seems a great pity that despite Lee's amazing philanthropy, the only thing that marks his life is the few lines added onto the headstone of his mother's grave in Liverpool's Anfield cemetery.

The grave ends with the simple words "he wearied not in well doing".

But with the discovery of his photographs, perhaps Lee will be given the recognition he deserves.

Visit Lee Jones' photo gallery

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