University animators compete to bring strange TV Licence excuses to life

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Parrots, microwave ovens and the King of Scotland feature in the list of UK wide excuses for not having a TV Licence over the last year.

Many from the list have been turned into animations by five of the UK’s leading animation universities in a bid to win a national competition.

In Northern Ireland, one Holywood man claimed that his dedication to ignoring his wife’s instructions shouldn’t change when she asked him repeatedly to ‘sort out’ their TV Licence.

Meanwhile a gentleman in Belfast explained that a fallout with his mother in the run up to Christmas meant that he didn’t receive the TV Licence that he had asked for as a present and instead she packed her swimwear and headed to Benidorm for a holiday.

While some like to blame others for their forgetfulness or for not paying the fee for them, others have a taste for the dramatic, like one north west viewer who claimed to have misplaced it but promised to enlist the local Foyle Search & Rescue team to ensure its return.

Others tend to go for more obscure excuses, in one case an Omagh resident explained that they didn’t even watch the TV it was simply on “for security”.

Karen Grimason, TV Licensing spokesperson, said: “The students’ animations are highly imaginative but we’re not so impressed with the creative approach to excuses, as watching or recording live TV without a licence is against the law.

Even though we’re effective at catching evaders, we’d always prefer people pay than risk a maximum £1,000 fine. For those who may find it difficult to pay in one go, we offer a range of payment options to spread the cost, sign up at

In a quest to find the best animated excuse and animation, degree course students in Ulster University, Belfast Campus have worked their creative magic on some dubious explanations for non-payment, which visiting officers and call centre staff have heard this year.

Professor of Animation at Ulster University, Greg Maguire added: “Ulster University courses are designed in collaboration with industry to ensure our graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to compete in this rapidly evolving sector. This competition provides a platform for our students to demonstrate their creative skills and I would urge the public to get behind them and vote as a recognition of their talent.”

Prizes will be awarded for the People’s Choice and the Judges’ Award, made by a panel of animation industry experts.

The winner of the People’s Choice film will be based on the highest number of ‘likes’ received on the TV Licensing YouTube channel, with all films published today (8 February). Viewers will have until 5pm on 4th March to vote for their favourites.

The judging panel comprises BAFTA-winning animator Marc Crast from Studio AKA, Jason Fletcher-Bartholomew, Senior Animator at Aardman and Red Bee Media Executive Creative Director Charlie Mawer. Together they will select the Judges’ Award winner. Criteria including directing, production, animation quality and script will be used to assess the entries.

Charlie Mawer said: “The Excuses animation competition has certainly demonstrated the next generation of animators is brimming with talent and creativity. The quality of the entries is very high, with excuses as diverse as microwave TVs to claims that the owner is a hologram from Red Dwarf. The competition shows just how diverse, unique and talented we are as an animation nation. The People’s Choice voting is now open, so please visit to vote for your favourite, by ‘liking’ the video.”

More than 40 excuses films have been submitted from students across the UK. View and vote for your favourite animation at

To check if a licence is needed, visit or call 0300 790 6112.