Manimation Reports: Commissioning Conversation – CBeebies & CBBC

Posted on: Thursday 07 November 2013 7:34pm

Jackie Edwards is Executive Producer, Animation and Acquisitions for CBeebies – the U.K.’s foremost dedicated pre-school television channel.  Jackie is Executive Producer on many of CBeebies animated series such as Tree Fu Tom, Octonauts, and Rastamouse.

Jackie outlined CBeebies’ current success stories, the thinking behind acquiring animation for the channel and something of the process they use to acquire that content.

Jackie began by playing a clip celebrating animation shown on CBeebies which included new titles Sarah and Duck, and Peter Rabbit.  CBeebies animations have colourful, larger than life characters and animation produces some of the top performing shows which help define the channel.

Jackie praised the The North West as a long standing breeding ground for great animation including Postman Pat, Cloud Babies and in the near future the return of the iconic Clangers.

Jackie explained that of the 1000 shows pitched to CBeebies every year, only four series are bought. So what are CBeebies looking for? Shows that inspire a sense of awe, something visibly distinctive and original in concept, ideas which understand our audience and what they love – and shows which carry a big idea.  CBeebies does not buy into “more of the same”.  It likes to stretch the boundaries.  Learning is a vital element too.  Recent series have explored philosophy for the under 6’s, Tree Fu Tom was developed to address problmes fo dyspraxia in young children – to help them get moving, and even a show as entertaining as Raa Raa the Noisy Lion is essentially about rhyme, rhythm and the re-telling of stories – developed in response to a report that children have low language skills in certain areas of the UK.

Pitching to CBeebies can be done using the BBC’s e-commissioning portal, but since Jackie and the acquisitions team take a deep interest in every show they acquire – nothing for CBeebies is bought “of the shelf” – it’s a good idea to have early conversations with the team to consider what  gaps need to be filled, whether a concept fits the channel’s ethos and needs, the extent to which changes might need to be made to the editorial, or educational elements and so on.  Jackie is keen to talk to people early to avoid wasting time later in the process.

Lucy Pryke is Development Producer, Animations and Acquisitions for CBBC and is editorially responsible for pre-bought programmes for the CBBC channel.  CBBC acquires animation and live action drama and entertainment programmes for six to twelve year olds.  Lucy selects projects submitted by producers, animation companies and distributors and most recent shows include Shaun the Sheep (Aardman) and Dennis the Menace & Gnasher (Red Kite/Sticky Pictures/DC Thompson).

Again Lucy wanted to clarify the CBBC position on animation acquisitions and the process producers needed to go through.

Lucy kicked off with a reel showcasing current CBBC animation programming featuring clips from Scooby Doo, Strange Hill High, Arthur, Dennis the Menace and Shaun the Sheep.

So what are CBBC looking for in animation?  Lucy advised that there are two vital components – ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘character driven’.  They also want shows that don’t put off older viewers, that offer something new and exciting which get kids talking, great story telling, unpredictable moments, funny and engaging characters with strengths and weaknesses, gender neutral and the comedy needs to be smart.

Though CBBC does buy animation “off the shelf” such as Scooby Doo, Lucy also indicated that they are open to early discussions to help people shape projects for suitability further down the line.  Again it was simple mater of making contact in advance.

Lucy’s presentation:  CBBC Manimation with notes –

Manimation is a new animation festival, created by the CMC for MIDAS, the Manchester Investment Development Agency.  It combines business development events with creative and social evenings aimed at the Manchester animation community. 

Blogged by Sarwat Jaleel

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