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How Clearcut Sound Studios Brought Percy Pig to Life, with Tom Holland and Dawn French


LBB speaks to senior sound designer, James Clark, about creating Christmas magic for the M&S spot and the unusual prop responsible for Percy’s footstep sounds

How Clearcut Sound Studios Brought Percy Pig to Life, with Tom Holland and Dawn French

The iconic Percy Pig sweets got a magical Christmas makeover thanks to a fairy’s magic. The fairy, voiced by Dawn French, is joined by the newly-alive Percy, voiced by Tom Holland. The script is funny and lighthearted, marrying a sense of wonder (like the awe Percy feels in his ‘23 seconds of life’) and festive charm. 

The animated spot has Christmas food firmly at its heart. Dawn’s fairy shows Percy all around the supermarket, pointing out tasty treats. In the meantime, we’re treated to a visual and audio feast that instantly puts a smile on one’s face.

Speaking with LBB is Clearcut Sound Studios’ James Clark, senior sound designer. He tells us all about the challenges of recording voice overs for the spot, his magical Christmas references, and the unusual prop he was inspired to use to get Percy’s footsteps just right.  


LBB> What was the brief like and at what point did you get involved? 

James> We were involved fairly early on. With it being an animation, we needed to have Percy and fairy’s voices recorded first for the animators to work to. As such, there wasn't an overly complicated brief for me. I was tasked with bringing life to the characters through sound and a sense of reality to the space.

LBB> The spot brings to life M&S’s most iconic character, Percy Pig, voiced by Tom Holland, and the fairy is voiced by Dawn French. How did you record the voiceovers and what directions did the actors have?

James> The recording sessions came with a fair few unexpected challenges. Both Dawn and Tom's schedules are incredibly busy, as you can imagine. We ended up getting a lot of Dawn's early recordings remotely. Then she came to the studio as things were becoming more final to put some finishing touches on her part.

Tom had the added schedule complication of working around flights to and from LA. I actually ended up travelling to Tom to get most of his recordings in person and ensure we had what we needed. 

LBB> Percy’s snort is very funny and one of the highlights of the spot. How did you get it right?

James> Tom needed little direction on his Percy or his snort. He was great. The team asked him to do his own interpretation of it and we all watched him just become Percy in that moment. He naturally brought a level of youthful enthusiasm to the role. 

LBB> The spot conjures up sounds and visions of a magical Christmas. Tell us how you used sound design to create these effects. 

James> I'd say the Christmas charm is in the idea and the coming together of all the parts. The animation on Percy and Fairy are exceptional and really do the heavy lifting in the charm department. I mostly had to add reality to it with foley and my sound effect track lay.

A slightly more interesting fact is that I used actual Percy Pig sweets for the sound of Percy's feet as he runs through the aisles. I started thinking about the type of sound that Percy would make when he walked through the aisles, and it wouldn't have been your typical trotter on the ground.  I thought to give the sweets a try and the soft sound ended up being perfect! It also added an authenticity to Percy 

Fairy’s magic sounds were created using a combination of firework recordings from a selection of pre-recorded sounds from our library and I also spent an evening recording fireworks.

LBB> Can you tell us about any references used to get the tone of the spot just right? 

James> I did a fair bit of fairy wing research. I immediately thought to re-watch snippets of ‘Hook’ for Tinkerbell and also ‘Epic’ for small wing sounds, having seen it recently. 

LBB> Besides the magical sounds, a cheerful and wondrous song is also used. How did you go about sourcing and securing a track that reflected this tone? 

James> I'd like to take credit for the music, but all the praise for nailing the brief and tone should go to the composer, Charlie Smith. 

LBB> How was the collaboration with the brand, agency, and production throughout the project? 

James> Well, due to the nature of the production a lot of things were happening at the same time so it involved a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between ourselves and MPC - everything was expertly overseen. It ran very smoothly and all in all was a real joy.   

LBB> Did you run into any challenges while working on the spot? How did you overcome them?

James> As mentioned, recording Tom threw up some unique challenges. 

LBB> What were your highlights of working on this campaign?

James> Getting to work alongside so many talented and pleasant people, plus getting to spend so much time in Dawn French's company. Oh - Tom Holland makes a decent cup of tea.

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Genres: Music & Sound Design

Categories: Supermarkets, Retail and Restaurants

Clearcut Sound Studios, Thu, 09 Dec 2021 17:36:46 GMT