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Aardman reaches for the crayons

Bristol, England's Aardman may have a solid animation history, but the world-renowned home of Wallace and Gromit hasn't produced a kids show since 1980. But thanks to a partnership with Toronto, Canada's Decode Entertainment and a growing slate of youth-targeted projects, the toon hotshop is looking a little younger these days.
November 1, 2004

Bristol, England’s Aardman may have a solid animation history, but the world-renowned home of Wallace and Gromit hasn’t produced a kids show since 1980. But thanks to a partnership with Toronto, Canada’s Decode Entertainment and a growing slate of youth-targeted projects, the toon hotshop is looking a little younger these days.

Marking its first foray into co-production, Aardman and Decode have hooked up to deliver Sketch Show, a new CGI/Flash series for the six to 11 set. Each episode in the 13 x 11-minute show will house between 20 and 25 sketches drawing on the inherent humor of regular characters like the Ninja Handyman, who fixes mundane things around the house with a fighting flair; and Soppy Street Rappers, a scary gang that loves to jump rope and play with kittens when nobody’s looking. CiTV in the U.K. and Canada’s Teletoon are both making room for the show in their spring 2005 schedules.

Aardman head of broadcasting Miles Bullough says partnering with Decode means the shop can raise enough Canadian financing to top up the project’s US$4.8-million budget. Decode partner Beth Stevenson, meanwhile, is really looking forward to putting her sketch comedy expertise, gleaned from working on Broadway Video and CBC’s The Kids in the Hall in the early ’90s, to use again.

Once Sketch Show cycles into production, Aardman will start working up other kid concepts in its pipeline, inlcuding Shaun The Sheep, which received a stand-alone commission from CBBC in September. Aardman’s Cartoon Forum entry from 2003, the ninja-inspired Chop Socky Chooks, is almost ready to go with presales to Cartoon Network in the U.S. and Europe. And finally, preschool series The Flowerheads has been picked up by Cbeebies. Bullough is still looking for a bit of additional financing to get these projects off the ground.

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