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S4C Pioneer Chris Grace To Step Down

Chris Grace, one of the pioneers of S4C and the founder of the animation industry in Wales, will step down from his full-time post at S4C in the next few months, but will continue to develop and oversee animation projects.

Grace, 56, director of animation, has spent more than 30 years in broadcasting in Wales. He joined S4C from HTV in September 1981 and was one of the handful of execs responsible for launching the channel on November 1, 1982. He uncovered many new sources of animation in eastern European countries and brought their work to the world audience in award-winning series, films and specials via co-productions his channel commissioned or brokered.

Grace said, S4C has been my professional passion for the major part of my working life. When I started, you could fit it all into an estate car. For me, much the most rewarding development in Wales has been the growth of the language and the positive climate surrounding it so radically different from the 70s. In animation, Wales has brokered major international co-productions with countries from a previously divided Europe, while establishing its own respected voice that is neither of east nor west.

He continued, I leave in the knowledge, that as an outsider, I have been profoundly privileged to serve this country, this channel, this language at this time in Wales history. He will oversee the third series of the multi-country, co-production, THE ANIMATED TALES OF THE WORLD, and is pursuing other projects both in the U.K. and abroad.

Chris Grace has made a unique and immeasurable contribution to putting S4C and animation from Wales on the world television map, said S4Cs chief exec Huw Jones. From SUPERTED to THE MIRACLE MAKER, he has given the channel a massive international profile thanks to the quality and imagination of the work for which he has been responsible. He was also one of that small band of brave pioneers who had a vision for the yet-to-be-seen channel and the drive to realize it.

Grace was made a Member of the Gorsedd in 1983 and awarded an MBE for services to animation in 1998.

S4C lists Graces contributions as including:

* His commission of SUPERTED in 1982 effectively kick-started the animation industry in Wales. The BAFTA award-winning series, which has since been sold to 80+ countries, was the first British animation to be acquired by the Disney Channel.* He drew up S4Cs first program schedule and oversaw S4Cs launch campaign and on-air presentation.* In addition to SUPERTED in 1982, further commissions in the 80s include FIREMAN SAM, WIL CWAC CWAC and the Prince of Wales THE LEGEND OF LOCHNAGAR. * Upon the end of the Cold War, Grace pioneered a relationship between east and west with the animation of the worlds literary and musical icons. SHAKESPEARE THE ANIMATED TALES (1992 & 1994), OPERAVOX and TESTAMENT (1995), MOBY DICK, DON QUIXOTE and THE CANTERBURY TALES (1998), THE MIRACLE MAKER (2000), the 39-country ANIMATED TALES OF THE WORLD (2001 and 2004) and Y MABINOGI/OTHERWORLD (2002) are among the 60 projects that emerged from a widening relationship with over 40 countries during the decade.* Grace commissioned films that have won four BAFTAs, two Oscar nominations (FAMOUS FRED and THE CANTERBURY TALES) and 10 Prime Time Emmys. Uniquely, the 90-minute feature THE MIRACLE MAKER was shown coast-to-coast in peak time by U.S. network ABC on Easter Sunday in 2001 and again in 2002.* He initiated a shorts film scheme that annually gives 40 animators in Wales a chance to direct their own films.* Grace has raised more than £25,000,000 in co-production money, much of it inward investment.* He launched S4Cs commercial arm S4C International/Mentrau in Cannes in 1982 before the channel went on air, managing it until 1992. * Grace initiated the British Animation Awards and brought the Cardiff Animation Festival to Wales. He chaired last years £1 million Cartoon Forum in Caernarfon.