MIPCOM Report: Co-production diary: The New World of the Gnomes

The gnomes continue their adventures in a new series in which they protect the world from environmental destruction by their arch-enemies, the evil trolls, in this 26 x 30 minute series for children ages three to 12 years....
October 1, 1996

The gnomes continue their adventures in a new series in which they protect the world from environmental destruction by their arch-enemies, the evil trolls, in this 26 x 30 minute series for children ages three to 12 years.


BRB Internacional, Spain

Panini, Italy

Antena 3 TV, Spain

CLT, Luxembourg

How the partnership began:

BRB’s relationship with gnomes dates back to 1985. BRB’s CEO, Claudio Biern-Boyd, was at the Amsterdam airport duty-free shop when he saw a book called The Secret Book of the Gnomes by Dutch author Will Huyguen and illustrator Rien Poortvliet. That book served as the inspiration for three successful series, David, the Gnome, The Wisdom of the Gnomes and The Gnomes’ Great Adventure. These series became BRB’s most profitable.


As BRB approaches its 25th anniversary in 1997, it turns its attention towards developing a new gnomes series. It budgets the series at US$8 million, and begins searching for co-producers to help with financing.

July 1995

BRB signs on Panini, a producer of album and sticker collections. The Italian-based Panini had previously licensed BRB-related characters in Spain and other European markets. BRB offers Panini a deal that not only gives it licensing rights, but also participation in co-production. This is the first time Panini has ever participated as a production partner.

November 1995

Antena 3 TV, Spain’s leading private TV network, inks a deal in which BRB will develop six animated series, including The New World of the Gnomes, to air on Antena 3 over the next three years.

January 1996

BRB enters into an agreement with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in which the WWF will supply BRB with relevant research data about the environment and nature to be used as the basis for story plots. In return, the WWF gets 2.5 percent of the gross sales of the series.

‘The person we started [negotiating] with was an American who had young children who had been fans of the gnomes [David, the Gnome aired on Nickelodeon],’ says Ignacio Orive, director of audiovisual for BRB. ‘It was helpful not to have to start at zero and not have to explain who the gnomes were.’

April 1996

At MIP-TV, BRB announces the WWF’s first-ever participation in an animated series.

Also at MIP-TV, Luxembourg media conglomerate CLT makes a handshake deal to come on as a third co-producer. BRB had been seeking a partner from one of the major European territories. CLT was seeking to build up its library of animated programming for its stations. It liked the concept for the show and the ratings generated by the previous series. CLT has rights to The New World of the Gnomes in German-speaking areas and gains distribution rights to the U.K., Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. The final agreement is signed in June. (CLT is also co-producing a series spoofing Elliot Ness and the Untouchables starring Elliot Mouse, which will also air on Antena 3.)

Summer 1996

The Secret Book of the Gnomes author Huyguen and the WWF deliver ideas and information for plots, which BRB sends to its U.S.-based scriptwriters. BRB keeps its co-producers apprised of the show’s development, running storyboards, scripts and animation by the them just in case they find something objectionable.

October 1996

BRB will officially launch the series at MIPCOM, with all of the co-producers and the WWF present. It projects that the series will debut in September 1997 in Spain, and hopes to expand to territories in Europe, the U.S and Latin America by April 1998.

Evaluating the partnership

‘It [has been] extremely smooth,’ says Orive. ‘The relationship with each co-producer is fantastic. One of the reasons these co-producers have signed on was BRB’s reputation. [We've] been around for 25 years producing series. They trusted that where they put their money, they’d have a series, and the series would be finished and sold worldwide. They are letting us produce the show, and they work their respective businesses where they do best.’

Heinz Thym, head of acquisitions and sales at CLT concurs. ‘The cooperation is very professional. Our aim is to identify reliable partners with whom we work well. It’s easier for us to have a steady relationship with these partners instead of [always] looking around.’

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