Cascade, a U.K.-based division of Scottish Television Enterprises, is on a mission to invest US$16 million in childrens, drama and nonfiction programming in order to expand its brand. Approximately one-third of this backing from the Scottish Media Group is earmarked for kids, enabling at least a 50% increase, doubling the STE kid output.
Cascade, an international distribution entity headed up by director Ian Jones, launched at MIPCOM with a 90-hour animation slate-spawned by pooling the global sales endeavors of STE (the library formerly handled by Scottish Television International), the children’s and family output of Australia’s Barron Entertainment (Ship to Shore), and shows of all genres from Irish broadcaster RTE. Co-production brokering is also within the Cascade mandate, for which Darrel James has the kid co-production remit. In addition to expanding the portfolio of international programming rights via equity investment or distribution advances, another goal behind the STE Cascade umbrella moniker is a desire to not solely be identified with Scotland, in order to broaden the international customer base.
Elizabeth Partyka, head of children’s programming at Scottish, has a slew of projects in the works. The first stopframe animation project headed for Cascade is Upstairs Downstairs Bears, based on kids books by Carol Lawson. Production begins this year on 26 10-minute episodes for the four to nine set, co-produced with Egmont Imagination for US$3 million. Another new kid series is The McKenzies, a 2-D animated preschool series (26 x 10-minutes) for ITV about an Edinburgh-based kitten whose dad is professor of adventurology, based on books by Aileen Paterson. Curiously this is Scottish’s first identifiably Scottish project, which is OK now that it’s being sold under the Cascade banner. The US$2 million series is a co-production with Siriol of Cardiff and Barron.
Another book-based series is Harry and the Wrinklies, which follows the adventures of a young boy who goes to live with geriatric aunts, who are actually the lynchpins behind a gang of ancient Robin Hood-inspired criminals. The script is by adult comedy writer Michael Aitken. The 13 30-minute episodes are budgeted between US$250,000 and US$300,000 each. Buena Vista International is co-developing this live-action show for the five to 11 demographic, based on the best-selling tales by Alan Temperley (a Scottish author who lives 10 miles from Scottish TV). His next book is also optioned; Ragboy, Rats and the Surging Sea is a period thriller about a young beachcombing lad who finds a mermaid.
Cascade is in league with Barron on two other live-action kid series, Fast Tracks and Driven Crazy (see www.kidscreen.com for MIPCOM co-production diaries in the October 1998 issue), as part of a five-year relationship that sees the projects split annually between the U.K. and Aussie partners (see ‘Scottish Links with Barron,’ in August 1998). Scottish is also a partner on the Nelvana/CBS animated series six-pack, and was a co-producer with DIC Entertainment on the 26 half-hours of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, which is being sold by Buena Vista.
Cascade has presold the teen drama Minty, a US$200,000 per episode co-production with Australia’s RT Films (airing on ITV), to SVT Sweden and RTE Ireland, as well as the preschool animation series The Blobs to Nick Junior in the U.S.