Up Next: What’s developing in kids production

Rupert is raring to move from page to screen
February 1, 2006

Rupert is raring to move from page to screen

With more than 50 million Rupert the Bear periodicals sold to date and a regular strip in England’s Express newspaper, London’s Entertainment Rights reckoned it was time for the critter to jump from U.K. comic pages to the international small screen.

To kick-start the imagination of its two to five year old target audience, each 10-minute episode of Rupert and Friends starts with the bear and his pals embarking on an adventure in either Nutwood or a more fantastical locale. For example, in one episode Rupert and buddies Bill Badger, Edward Trunk, Ping Pong the pekinese and Ming the dragon, head to the moon in search of cheese because the roguish Fox twins have eaten all of their sandwich fillings. Disappointingly, it turns out the planet isn’t made of fromage, but the Man in the Moon helps the gang solve its lunchtime dilemma – he just happens to run a cheese stall.

London, England’s Five commissioned the series for its Milkshake block and ER will be knocking on the doors of presale prospects in the U.S., Japan, Scandinavia, Germany and France over the next few months. The 52 x 10-minute program, created with a mix of stop-frame and CGI, could be delivered as early as Q4 2006, coming in at an expected budget of US$7 million.

Food toon explores culinary history

Most countries boast a must-have local dish, but usually little is known about the history behind the creation of such regional fare. The production team at S4C in Wales and Bristol, England’s Arthur Cox (a commercial animation design company angling to get into the TV biz) have cracked open many-a-culinary book to explore the rich stories of food in Where’s My Dinner?

From finding out the Earl of Sandwich didn’t exactly behave in a way that made him worthy of having anything named after him, to discovering the many uses of Canada’s maple syrup, the show’s protagonists travel the globe in their hot air balloon to eat and learn. In one ep, nine-year-old Trina and Professor Griffin, an Oxford-educated Irish Terrier who has an endless supply of food factoids and cool kitchen gadgets at his paw-tips, crash-land in Tokyo. Once they hit the ground, the balloon immediately converts into a kitchen, attracting the likes of ninja chef Suki. While he introduces them to sushi with the flip of a sword, the professor investigates the Japanese delicacy’s nutritional and historical facts, and Trina hilariously experiences the brain-busting power of Wasabi.

Arthur Cox presented the 52 x 7-minute series for kids ages six through 10 at last year’s Cartoon Forum with six episodes already in the can. SVT in Sweden has signed a presale deal for the collage-inspired 2-D animation program and the team is eager to land sales in France and Germany. The first 13 episodes are set for a Q2 2007 delivery, and Arthur Cox is shoring up interest on the U.S. co-production front to top up the US$4-million budget.

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