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Netflix invests in the UK for original tween series growth

Netflix is expanding its lineup of original tween fare with two new British projects, The Worst Witch and untitled Horse Mystery project (pictured).
September 1, 2016

Following a string of successful original live-action tween series co-produced in North America, including Degrassi: Next Class and Project Mc2, streaming giant Netflix is backing two new British co-productions. Book adaptation The Worst Witch and an untitled Horse Mystery project (pictured) are both in a position to boost the service’s international growth.

Based on the popular book series by acclaimed English author Jill Murphy, live-action/CGI fantasy series The Worst Witch will be Netflix’s first co-production with CBBC Productions in collaboration with Germany’s ZDF (and its commercial arm ZDF Enterprises).

The 11 x half-hour series follows the coming-of-age story of 10-year-old Mildred Hubble (Game of Thrones‘ Bella Ramsey), a clumsy tween in training at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Ramsey’s co-stars include Doctor Who‘s Clare Higgins as Miss Cackle and Downton Abbey‘s Raquel Cassidy as deputy head Miss Hardbroom.

Most of the series will be shot in the UK, with some exterior scenes of Miss Cackle’s Witches’ Academy filmed at Hohenzollern Castle in Germany. The Worst Witch will also feature visual effects from London-headquartered indie prodco Milk, which won an Oscar for its work on Universal Pictures’ Ex Machina, and it will premiere in 2017 on CBBC and ZDF before launching exclusively in Netflix territories worldwide.

Netflix’s second greenlight, the untitled Horse Mystery project, is also scheduled to launch in 2017 and features another female-centered coming-of-age story.

Co-produced by All 3 Media-owned Lime Pictures—the UK-based producer behind Disney’s hit tween series The Evermoor Chronicles—the 10-part series is set in a stable on an island off the coast of England. It follows the summertime adventures of an American teenager named Zoe, whose life changes forever after meeting a mysterious horse named Raven.The project’s stars include Jaylen Barron (Good Luck Charlie) as Zoe, as well as another Game of Thrones star, Kerry Ingram, and Celine Buckens from War Horse.

Lime’s Rebecca Hodgson, Kate Little and Claire Poyser are executive producing, and Paul Norton Walker (Shameless) is the series’ director. It will be available in all Netflix territories next year.

Both production announcements come as live-action tween series co-produced in the UK are increasing in popularity, especially ones from Disney Channel like new series The Lodge, a co-pro with Zodiak Kids Studios that will debut in the UK and Canada on September 23.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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