TV’s breakfast time broadcaster GMTV has commissioned a US$3.26 million preschool series called Jellabies from independent production company Winchester Entertainment.
The 78 x five-minute series, which is aimed at two- to five-year-olds, will launch in the first quarter of 1999. Already, it is being seen as a possible rival to the BBC’s Teletubbies, which has had a dramatic effect on GMTV’s ratings for housewives with kids during the last year.
Jellabies features the adventures of six characters who inhabit the ‘wibbly wobbly world of Jellyland.’ The series uses computer-generated 3D animation, which has been created by another U.K.-based company called Optical Image Broadcast.
GMTV plans to start by broadcasting Jellabies in 20-minute sequences on Saturday mornings, with each show containing three five-minute episodes and two additional minutes of songs. Subsequently, the plan is for Jellabies to be aired again as part of GMTV’s contribution to the new digital terrestrial television platform, which is planned for launch at the start of next year.
The worldwide rights for Jellabies remain with Winchester Entertainment, which has signed a licensing deal for the property with the U.K.’s Just Group. The TV rights will be available for the first time at MIPCOM next month.
In a separate development, the success of the Ragdoll-produced BBC’s preschool phenomenon Teletubbies (which made a staggering US$37.5 million for the corporation’s BBC Worldwide distribution arm last year), looks set to continue this year following news of significant new distribution deals in Germany and France. The series will start by airing on Canal + in France this fall, and will then debut on Germany’s Kinderkanal next spring. Discussions are also currently underway for a sale to Italian public broadcaster RAI.