Channel 5′s preschool block Milkshake! is greenlighting four new series with support from the BFI Young Audiences Production Content Fund (YACF).
The new content includes three animated series—Circle Square (pictured), a 40 x seven-minute show produced by Wyndley Animation; Winnie & Wilbur (52 x 11.5 minutes) from Winduna; and Milo (52 x 11 minutes) from first-timer Fourth Wall Creative.
Milkshake! is also ordering The World According to Grandpa, a 25 x 11-minute live-action series from Grandpa Productions. This marks the third live-action series greenlit using the YACF funds, and it joins Mimi’s World and Meet the Experts.
Milkshake! is increasingly turning to live action to better reflect its audience, says Louise Bucknole, VP of programming for Nickelodeon UK and Channel 5′s Milkshake!
“We want kids to see themselves on screen,” she says. “We always say that for kids, ‘you can’t be, unless you can see.’ So we really want to make sure we reflect kids not only from a diverse point of view, but also regionally so our audience can hear different accents and see kids like them from all over the UK.”
Bucknole has been planning to bring live action back to Milkshake! since she began at ViacomCBS in mid-2018. The preschool block hasn’t commissioned any live-action shows in more than five years, and has never picked up a live-action drama (like Mimi’s World) before.
Without the help of the fund, Bucknole says Milkshake! likely wouldn’t have been able to greenlight so many new series, or work with so many new creators.
The four newly announced series (as well as Mimi’s World and Meet the Experts) will begin launching later this year and continuing into 2021.
Channel 5 is also bolstering development financing for preschool craft show Pop Paper City, which received money from BFI’s YACF in May. Produced by LoveLove Films, the show is a blend of live action and 3D animation, interweaving a new craft and character-led adventures in each episode.
Finally, Milkshake! has also ordered new seasons of in-house productions Milkshake! Monkey’s Amazing Adventures and Milkshake! Bop-Box. And it has picked up season 12 of Fireman Sam. All three series will air next year.
ITV’s kids channel CITV, meanwhile, used the YACF funding to pick up Don’t Unleash the Beast, produced by Tiny House Productions and CPL Productions. This game show is set in a mythological underground world where teams undergo a series of challenges to find treasure. CITV also used the funding for Dot to Dot Production’s arts and crafts series Makeaway Takeaway. The comedy-led maker series for six to 12s encourages kids to recycle and upcycle materials into art. Lastly, CITV snagged Lloyd of the Flies, Aardman’s animated series for five- to 11-year-olds.
A few older-skewing teen projects also received YACF funding, including Blink Industries’ educational/existential nightmare series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, which has been picked up by Channel 4. Broadcaster E4 bought Afro Mic Prouctions’ Letters in Lockdown, which tells six stories of young people from around the UK during the pandemic. E4 also acquired animated series Grime Therapy, which features the UK’s leading Grime musicians talking openly about mental health and how to cope with it.
Finally, Welsh broadcaster S4C used YACF funding for Welsh-language historical factual series Hei Hanes! (Hey History!), which brings Welsh history to life for eight to 13s in a contemporary way through blogs and formats inspired by social networks. S4C also greenlit 2D-animated early learning series Sali Mali, also in Welsh and focusing on the importance ofaccepting others.