When Siriol Productions relocates from Wales to Entertainment Rights’ head office in London in this month, managing director Robin Lyons will stay put in Cardiff. In fact, he and some key members of the Siriol team have regrouped to start up a new independent production company.
Calon, which means ‘heart’ in Welsh, has acquired the rights to Siriol projects including SuperTed, Hilltop Hospital and new stop-motion series Holly’s Helpline, the production of which will be its first order of business. On the surface of things, keeping up momentum would appear to be a simple feat. ‘From our point of view, it’s the same people pretty much doing the same thing in the same place, but under a different structure,’ says Lyons.
But he’s cognizant of the fact that Calon will need to diversify and expand its program base. ‘We want to keep doing major international animated series, but we’ll have to invest our own money in them to hang onto the rights.’ Lyons is also considering building more live-action children’s drama series into the company’s catalogue. He says the buzz around Help, I’m a Teenage Outlaw, a six x half-hour series about three tween ne’er-do-wells making mischief in the 17th century, should act as a springboard for more live-action projects.
Calon will continue to do service work for a handful of companies to help finance new projects. In fact, the team is currently working on Pepper’s Patrol for London’s Coolabi, a third season of Flash-based series Bobinogs for the BBC, and some feature-length animation work for companies in Italy and Germany.
Lyons and his team are also revving up to showcase a new series at September’s Cartoon Forum in Kolding, Denmark. Aimed at six- to eight-year-olds, Safe House Hotel is about a family-run inn that’s a nest for international spies. It will be the first project presented under the Calon banner.
Entertainment Rights purchased Siriol in 1999, back when the company was called SleepyKids. As part of its deal with Calon, ER maintains the rights to older Siriol productions such as The Princess and the Goblin.