UK pubcaster CBBC has commissioned tween-skewing show Flatmates (pictured) from Paris producer Zodiak Kids to air exclusively on BBC SVOD iPlayer. The comedy drama was ordered by CBBC to address the lack of content for the 12- to 16-year-old demo in the market right now, says Zodiak Kids’ producer Raymond Lau.
A spin-off of Zodiak Kids’ other tween-skewing comedy drama Millie InBetween (56 x 22 minutes), which the CBBC commissioned and later debuted in 2014, the first episode of the 10 x 30-minute Flatmates launched on Monday on iPlayer. The rest of the episodes will be available the first week of September and examine the lives of a group of young friends in their late teens living together in an apartment. The Zodiak team wanted to create a realistic and aspirational view of growing up and grappling with work and relationships. Zodiak Kids’ creative director, Steven Andrew, is the EP on Flatmates and CBBC’s senior commissioning editor Melissa Hardinge ordered the series.
“Feedback [on social media] in the last 48 hours tells us that the series has struck a chord with viewers,” says Lau.”We hope this is the start of more programming for that older audience in the UK so they’re not caught between watching either TV for kids or for adults.”
This is the first time the CBBC spun off one of its shows, according to Lau. After having run for four seasons, Millie InBetween proved popular and CBBC wanted to cross over the characters into the new show to help boost its reach, says Lau.
A lot of research went into creating the new series on how best to reach this audience, says Lau. The writers talked to kids and looked at market research for the target demo and older teens, so they could learn what it was like for them leaving home for the first time, Lau says. The team wanted to create something authentic and so they researched the jobs that kids without a need for higher education had and weaved in messages around sexuality and relationships without preaching about these topics, he adds.
“This demo is going to be the BBC’s future audience so it’s important to reach them now so they’ll be able to watch UK programming and have something that speaks to them when they’re older,” says Lau.
On top of commissioning Flatmates from Zodiak, CBBC and Australian kidsnet ABC Me have both ordered a fourth season (10 x 22 minutes) of the prodco’s The Secret Life of Boys (35 x half-hours). In the tween-skewing comedy Ginger, a teenage girl, moves into a house full of boys and has to learn how to deal with them. Creator and lead writer Anthony Farrell is the EP with Trevor Klein and Steven Andrew. The EP for CBBC is Amy Buscombe, alongside Jan Stradling for ABC. The latest season introduces new characters when Ginger travels across Canada with her best friend, and launches on CBBC this fall.