Think Lady Gaga in space.
That was the pitch BBC Children’s head of content Cheryl Taylor had for Ireland’s JAM Media when she approached the prodco with the space-themed, live-action musical series Tiara Jones.
Targeting an all-ages audience, Tiara Jones will feature original music, live actors and a futuristic look. It’s a departure for JAM, which has traditionally targeted kids and preschoolers with puppets and animation. But CEO John Rice says those elements mashed together on a spaceship are key to creating something that flies.
“A show’s look—just as much as its story and characters—is what makes it stand out,” Rice says. “Having the main cast as real actors, which is new for us, and the comedy of modern-day references in a futuristic setting, will let us tell this story in a distinctive way and create [something that is] stylized, quirky and fun.”
Greenlit in September by the CBBC, the show orbits around 18-year-old pop star Tiara Jones and her 11-year-old sister and manager McLaren as they go on a concert tour through space. JAM is in the early stages of developing the 10 x 24-minute series and expects delivery in summer 2021.
Created by husband-and-wife writing team Helen and Graham Linehan (Motherland), the IP was first envisioned as a live-action sitcom, and in keeping with the original idea, the prodco decided against using animation or puppets for its two leads.
To secure additional funding from other sources, and to keep the show on-brand for JAM, the mixed-media series will, however, still feature a combination of stop-motion animation, puppetry and visual effects.
The series has been presold to multiple broadcasters and is resonating with networks interested in the unique look the prodco created, says JAM CCO Alan Shannon.
While the studio sees Tiara Jones skewing toward girls, the comedy-adventure series has the potential to bridge a much broader audience than its official six-to-10 demo, says Shannon.
“The funny music, costumes and wacky places Tiara visits will appeal to viewers both young and old,” he says. “The lo-fi, over-the-top, stylized and retro look, like fuzzy dice hanging from the ceiling, is our way to tell this story that’s comedic. It will bring Tiara to where no pop star has ever gone before.”