British Football Star Gets Animated

U.K. football hero and sports anchorman Gary Lineker is about to get the cartoon treatment from the BBC. Lineker's animated alter ego appears in a regular slot on a new BBC1 Sunday morning magazine programme, FOOTBALL FEVER. The segment has been created by Alive Animation, which built up a library of Lineker's movements and expressions on computer. This means the character can be animated at the last minute, allowing for topical script changes. According to the UK newspaper EVENING STANDARD, the technology is so advanced that the cartoon could even be created 'live' on air. The computer programme can recognise Lineker's voice (the star voices his own character) and makes the toon figure respond accordingly. Gary Lineker's illustrious football career includes 48 goals for England in 80 international matches, one less than the record held by Bobby Charlton. Now retired from the game, he's the anchorman on the BBC sports programme MATCH OF THE DAY. FOOTBALL FEVER's cartoon version is set in Lineker's bedroom, where he chats with guests. There will be an initial batch of eight FOOTBALL FEVER programmes, four broadcast from this summer's Euro 2000 tournament. They will culminate on the day of the final in Rotterdam. If the response is good, thirty more shows may follow. The show is aimed at 10 to 16-year olds. This is not the first time an English football star has been "tooned." Stop-motion fans may remember "Doppelganger," a '90s theatrical short cartoon, directed by Nick Donkin, and created to promote Reebok football boots. In that film, the soccer hero was Ryan Giggs.

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