Kicking off its expansion into preschool production, Bristol, England’s Aardman Animations is developing a new 52 x 10-minute show that sets the stage with a distinctive style. Under the guiding hand of development producer Jackie Cockle, Timmy is in the pipe and on track to air on CBeebies in 2009, and Aardman is entertaining post-MIPCOM offers from several international territories as well. Those familiar with Shaun the Sheep will know that title character Timmy is the only lamb in a flock of full-grown sheep. But in his own show, the wee woolly one will join other baby animal characters such as piglets, kittens and owlets on daily adventures at their nursery school.
Each episode kicks off with Timmy in his Shaun the Sheep environs, but as he walks down the lane towards the nursery, the animation will morph into a very stylized, bright and colorful set to reflect the amazement and wonder with which toddlers view the outside world. And unlike Shaun, which Cockle says relies heavily on timing and visual gags, Timmy will generate its laughs with a modified version of stop-frame that highlights comedic character animation – especially important given that the show’s dialogue will be limited to meows, oinks and barks.
As for filling out Aardman’s preschool portfolio, Cockle has a mix of seven projects – some of which originated in-house and some of which are acquisitions – in various stages of development. She’d love to see two preschool stop-frame shows in production alongside each other, but is open to whatever style of animation suits a project. Cockle wouldn’t discuss any of the projects in detail, other than to say that they mostly feature 2-D and stop-frame animation and will start to make appearances in 2008.