Teleri Roberts has taken the helm this month as general manager for a company she describes as ‘the Hanna-Barbera Down Under.’
Southern Star Kids division formed officially in April, when Southern Star Sales’ 13,000 hours of English programming were divvied up into three business units-Robert’s kids division, Southern Star Primetime and Southern Star Wild & Real. The creation of Southern Star Kids reflects the company’s response to a changing marketplace. ‘The way the market is growing, we had to gear up to meet those demands,’ Roberts says. Although Southern Star already had a catalog of some 2,500 hours of children’s programming, it was time to place those kids products under a separate banner.
The film and TV prodco that brought Pig’s Breakfast to the small screen, is set to launch a new preschool series at MIP-COM. Hi-5 is a 45 x half-hour live-action variety show (see the December 1998 issue of Kidscreen, page 16). High Flyers , a 52 x half-hour kids drama also launches internationally at MIPCOM (see the March 1999 issue of Kidscreen, page 12).
Roberts will be shopping for shows of a similar vein, in terms of both format and theme. ‘Australian producers have found a way of dealing with issues children all over the world can relate to,’ she says. ‘We’re looking for long-running series in half-hour formats.’
Animated and live-action projects will be considered for preschoolers and the eight to nine set. ‘We’re interested in self-contained stories in a series,’ Roberts says, so that kids can tune in to any episode and follow along with the story line, even if they haven’t seen the show before. Roberts is also interested in the action-adventure trend, though she stresses any shows with this theme cannot be violent. ‘And then there’s always going to be a demand for classic, warm stories,’ Roberts says. ‘What it essentially boils down to is a good story told well.’
Roberts joins the company after a two-year stint with Cascade Distribution, where she was head of sales. Prior to that, she worked at S4C (Channel 4 Wales) where she headed up the sales division.