Production is speeding up on the animated feature film adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ classic graphic novel and tribute to his parents, Ethel and Ernest.

Originally to be produced by the late John Coates, the hand-drawn animated feature film is now being produced for Ethel & Ernest Productions by Lupus Films’ Camilla Deakin and Ruth Fielding (The Snowman And The Snowdog, The Hive). Raymond Briggs is an executive producer on the film.

The film is set for theatrical release in 2016 and the BBC will broadcast the film on TV in the UK.

It's being directed by Roger Mainwood who also worked on The Wind in the Willows, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice and Johnny Town Mouse, Meg And Mog.

The film portrays the life and times of two ordinary people living through extraordinary events and immense social change.

Ethel and Ernest meet in 1928, fall in love, marry, settle in the quiet London suburb of Wimbledon Park and raise a son. The film spans their lives through the Depression, war, post-war austerity and the swinging 60s. Portraying plain people speaking plain words, the film stays true to Raymond Briggs’ intimate, engaging and affectionate tribute to his parents.

A multi-generational team of top British talent is getting behind the microphone to breathe life into Raymond Briggs’ distinctive characters headed up by Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn in the title roles.

Jim Broadbent said, "It's such a beautiful book by a wonderful artist. It's truly inspiring - a great, honest story of a whole generation. It's lovely and irresistible.”

 
Raymond Briggs viewing a line test of some animation with producer Camilla Deakin of Lupus Films.

Briggs said, “My mother’s reaction would no doubt have been: 'Oh, Ernest! We're going to be on the pictures! We might even be at the Odeon in Wimbledon!’”

Director Roger Mainwood added, “It’s a real privilege to be directing the feature film of Ethel and Ernest, which many consider to be Raymond Brigg’s masterpiece. Time will tell if the end result does the book justice, but so far Raymond has loved everything he has seen. We are also delighted with the quality of the voice cast. Brenda and Jim are absolutely bang on as the title characters and the other actors bring an enormous amount of charm and character to their roles.”

The cast also includes Luke Treadaway as Raymond, Virginia McKenna (Born Free, A Town Like Alice), EastEnders actress June Brown, Pam Ferris (Matilda, Call The Midwife), The Fast Show’s Simon Day and The Thick Of It’s Roger Allam.

Stephan Roelants will produce the film for Melusine Productions and Jon Rennie is executive producer for Cloth Cat Animation.