Mini Dragons: Kids as Commissioners – Report

Posted on: Thursday 03 July 2014 6:35pm by Simon Bor

CBeebies producer, Jon Hancock, was the brave chair of a session that featured the awesome Mini-Dragons. Sophie (who insisted on being called Deborah Needham), Nemo, Kelly and Conrad.


  • Children are the harshest critics
  • Children are fearless
  • Children love playing the role of grown ups
  • There are some exciting, big, formats that put children into the role of decision maker
  • Facilitator and Father of 4, Jon Hancock, has nerves of steel

Session Details

The Mini-Dragons were asked for their opinions on three very different children’s properties.

Kate Pickering described Catasplat! as an augmented reality, single and multiplayer toy for 7 – 9 year olds. The player, or players, use a virtual catapult on a mobile phone and choose a variety of missiles to aim at their victims, with a photographic record of the results. One example that Kate showed was a stock image of Simon Cowell, augmented with digital splats of goo. “How did you get a picture of Simon Cowell?” asked Deborah. Later she would add that the product would be much improved if you could download photos of people like Simon Cowell, rather than waiting for a chance meeting on the street. She also thought that Kate had explained the concept well and had spoken like a butterfly.

Next up in front of the Mini-Dragons were Lindsay Taylor and Suzanne Smith with their series of Hattie B books featuring a magical vet. Conrad was worried. Not because the books might have been skewed towards girls, but because Lindsay did all the talking, leaving Suzanne in charge of moving the PowerPoint presentation on. Alice liked the idea because it was both, “sensible and magical at the same time.”

Mini DragonsThe final presentation came from Jon Spooner, with a TV show based on a Theatre programme. The Giant and the Bear featured a bearded man with fluffy ears as the bear from the title; Nemo thought he looked like another bear. “It’s like Yogi Bear… but Yogi has a full costume.”

The Mini-Dragons agreed that all three concepts should go ahead, but when pressed, the vote was split with two of them deciding that only some of them should proceed.

While the Mini-Dragons had been deliberating in private, a second panel debated the merits in involving children in decision making. CBBC controller, Cheryl Taylor was there to explain how viewers had chosen Lindsey Russell to present Blue Peter through the X Factor inspired show: Blue Peter – You Decide. It was interesting that CBBC would had pre selected the ten candidates, and they would have been happy with any one of them.

Aardman’s George Rowe told of the competition for children to create their own games and Jo Cliff, of Platypus Research, went into more details about what to look for when researching with children and how to avoid leading questions.

The session ended with the news that the Hattie B, Magical Vet books were being published today.

For full details on the speakers in this session, check out the Session Guide here.

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Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor


I studied Animation at Farnham, and, more recently, I have been awarded an MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University. I set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and have been involved in children’s television since the mid eighties. As a writer, I have co written and created several shows… Read more