As the world of music mourns the tragic loss of George Michael, one Milton Keynes man has been remembering George, the ‘friendly man with a sharp sense of humour.’
Tim Searle is now executive producer for animation at CBBC, but in 2002 he was responsible for the cutting edge animation show, 2DTV, which was produced in Stony Stratford.
2DTV was a satirical animation series which had a regular sketch featuring George, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and Elton John.
So when a call came in from George Michael?
“I assumed it was from Jon Culshaw, one of our voice artists messing around,” Tim recalls.
“Eventually it became apparent it wasn’t Jon and really was George Michael saying he wanted to meet to discuss a possible project.
“I have to admit I remained fairly sceptical until I was sitting in front of him the next day. It transpired that George was a huge fan of the show and wanted Tim to come up with a video to illustrate his forthcoming song, Shoot the Dog.
“He explained his concerns about the way the UK was seen to be cosying up to the USA at the time and wanted to try to do something to bring attention to what he saw as a dangerous policy.
“He said he had real worries for the safety of his family and friends in London.
“He liked the way we used comedy animation to lampoon events and figures. He thought a comedic video would get his message to a wide audience, he encouraged us to make him look ridiculous.
“He was very self- deprecating.”
Time was of the essence and the video needed to be completed in three weeks.
“It was an exciting, intensely demanding, fun project. We were so busy and excited that we didn’t fully appreciate how brave George was being by getting us to do it.
“He was the first high profile public figure to voice his concerns, but he understood the risk.”
George Michael was a genuine legend in music, and a genuinely nice man, says Tim.
“I’ll remember George as a friendly, enthusiastic collaborator with a sharp sense of humour. He was genuinely interested in what we were doing and made some really handy, smart notes during the production.
“While the initial reaction was ‘mixed’ with some real hostility, it was exciting to see George perform the song with a huge George Bush and dog inflatable and our animation on a huge screen in his later world tour – to great reaction.
Tim added: “I’m pleased to read the stories of George’s altruism and acts of kindness, but not overly surprised: He knew he was risking his career with Shoot the Dog but he was more concerned about the safety of his family and friends.”