BBC Studios Kids & Family division opens for business

BBC Studios has announced today that it has formally moved Children’s In-house Production into BBC Studios Productions to complete its ambitious new division: BBC Studios Kids & Family.

Led by Managing Director Cecilia Persson, BBC Studios Kids & Family will combine the talent and expertise of the BBC Children’s Production team and the content investment, customer and brand experience within BBC Studios into a new and integral part of the BBC Studios content powerhouse. This development is designed to drive an ambitious global strategy to increase the reach of in-house hits, develop new global brands and grow the value provided to younger audiences.

BBC Studios’ Kids & Family portfolio boasts some of the most successful local and global franchises in the world, with BAFTA and International Emmy winning craft and storytelling. Working with a mix of established talent and new and diverse voices including Dame Jaqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson and Laura Henry-Allain and best in class on-screen talent like Rosamund Pike, Javonne Prince, Tamsin Greig and Eva Mendes, its hugely popular shows include Blue Peter, JoJo & Gran Gran, My Mum Tracy Beaker, Ferne and Rory, Something Special, Bluey, Hey Duggee and Sarah & Duck.

Bringing Children’s production capabilities into BBC Studios for the first time creates an end-to-end business of scale and reputation in the Kids & Family space with the potential to create work for a wide range of customers. Working in partnership from development and production to investment, distribution, BBC Studios Kids and Family will ensure the most creative, efficient and effective approach to bring children’s content to audiences around the world.

Persson, Henrietta Hurford-Jones, Director of Content, Kids & Family, and Helen Bullough, Head of Kids & Family Production, will now be able to collaborate on creating and maximising new opportunities to build on the existing, diverse portfolio of global hits and family favourites. As well as working with established and much-loved talent, they are actively seeking fresh ideas and new and diverse voices with universal appeal to create rich content and build franchises that children will adore in the UK and beyond.

Ralph Lee, CEO BBC Studios Productions, says: “The newly integrated Kids & Family team is made up of incredibly talented individuals who excel at creating shows that are adored by children and their parents. They are true specialists in this key field of content creation and this new division presents an amazing opportunity to build on the fabulous portfolio they collectively already bring to the world.”

“I’m incredibly excited at the ambitious potential for innovation and growth within Kids and Family,” says Cecilia Persson, Managing Director, BBC Studios Kids & Family. “Alongside our core relationship with BBC Content’s unique children’s offer, we’re now open for business and are keen to explore new opportunities. We are passionate about our content because we care deeply about our audience and know that the stories we generate, identify and nurture have the power to make a difference to the lives of kids and their families around the world. That passion, combined with the team’s brilliant talent and expertise, will enable us to develop an unrivalled wealth of new, exciting and beloved content for children and their families across the UK and beyond.”

Patricia Hidalgo, Director of Children & Education, adds: “BBC Childrens in-house production has for decades been providing the BBC and the whole of the UK with best-in-class content for our audiences, I could not be happier to see this team join BBC Studios to take advantage of their international growth and great production capabilities, bringing them the valuable expertise this team has in creating Childrens content, and taking our Children & Education brands globally.”

‘Hilda and the Mountain King’ to debut on Netflix this December

Silvergate Media is readying the upcoming release of Hilda and the Mountain King, an 80-minute movie special which will launch exclusively on Netflix’s global streaming platform from 30 December.

Adapted from Luke Pearson’s sixth graphic novel in the Hilda series, Hilda and the Mountain King picks up where the cliff-hanger ending of Hilda Season 2 left off: finding Hilda stranded in troll country with the body of a troll. Her quest to change back into her human form and reunite with her mum and friends brings her deeper into the world of trolls – their customs, their cuisine, and their legends; namely the infamous Mountain King. Meanwhile, as tensions rise between the gathering trolls and the city of Trolberg, Hilda’s mum scours the mountainside desperate to find her daughter before the conflict erupts into a full blown war.

“We’re really excited to bring audiences a new feature length format with the release of Hilda and the Mountain King,” says Ron Allen, EVP Commercial at Silvergate Media. “The epic scope of the storyline gives us the opportunity to explore the full potential of Hilda’s fascinating mythical world and we think fans are going to love getting lost in the hidden depths of Trolberg this holiday season.”

Co-produced by Silvergate Media and Mercury Films, Hilda and the Mountain King marks the end to a year filled with numerous critical accolades. The show’s second season was awarded two Daytime Emmys, including Outstanding Children’s Animated Series, and three Annie Awards, including Best Animated TV Production for Children.

Other award-winning productions from Silvergate include OctonautsPeter Rabbit and Chico Bon Bon: Monkey with a Tool Belt for Netflix, and Sunny Day for Nickelodeon.


Banijay Brands strengthens portfolio with Banijay Kids and Family

Banijay Brands has announced it has secured the brand licensing rights to the Banijay Kids and Family catalogue.

Banijay Kids and Family produces a wide range of animation and live action series, digital content, and entertainment formats for children worldwide under three production labels: Zodiak Kids and Family, Monello Productions and Tiger Aspect Kids and Family. Banijay Brands already represents Tiger Aspect Kids and Family IP such as Mr Bean. The new partnership will the collective to further leverage the global infrastructure of Banijay Brands and deliver extensive brand licensing programmes for titles such as Street Football, Totally Spies!, Lolirock, Silverpoint, When I Was Your Age, Mister Maker and the upcoming The Unstoppable Yellow Yeti, and Mumfie.

Banijay Brands will also work with local commercial teams to explore a number of regionally-led opportunities.

Benoît Di Sabatino, CEO, Banijay Kids and Family, says: “It’s a big achievement for Banijay to announce at the same time the creation of our new brand Banijay Kids and Family and the launch of our licencing strategy with Banijay Brands. We are confident that our evergreen IPs as well as our creations will be in good hands with such a professional team like Banijay Brands.”

Alice Bernardi, Director of International Brand Licensing, Banijay Brands added: “Banijay Kids and Family has a strong and relatable kids content slate, which, when partnered with the experienced team at Banijay Brands, should trigger a lucrative position in the the children’s licensing space. Recognising the already huge interest from the market, we will be working across a number of categories including experiential, publishing, gaming and products to ensure the relevant and successful exploitation of the business’ IP moving forwards.”

Mumfie is an upcoming new animated series of the heritage property (78 x 7’), directed by the French director Daniel Dubuis. It is a co-production between Zodiak Kids Studio France and Italian animation studio Animoka alongside France Télévisions and Rai (Italy). Zodiak Kids recently announced it has secured a pre-sale from KiKA German.

Street Football is the popular animated series combining the action of matches with insights into the hardships of life is co-produced by Zodiak Kids and Monello Productions for France 3 and Rai 2.

The Unstoppable Yellow Yeti is a co-production between Zodiak Kids Studio France, and Gigglebug Entertainment. An original animated comedy series for kids aged 6+ and their families, it has been co-commissioned by Disney Channel Europe, Middle East & Africa and Nordic broadcasters YLE, DR, NRK, and SVT.

Silverpoint is a 13 x 22’ sci-fi mystery adventure series about kids at summer camp. Co-produced by Zodiak Kids, CBBC and ZDF Enterprises, the series is created by Lee Walters, Lead Writer, and Executive Producer Steven Andrew, Creative Director, Zodiak Kids.

When I Was Your Age is produced for RAI and France Télévisions by Monello Productions. The animated series features 10-year-old Paul who has a special gift – as soon as someone says “When I was your age”, Paul is thrown back into the days when the person he is talking to was 10 years old.

Mister Maker is the popular ultimate interactive arts and crafts show for younger kids. Broadcast in over 200 territories, the series is a Zodiak Kids Studios production for CBeebies.

Totally Spies! is the hit franchise that has been broadcasting for over 15 years, produced by Zodiak Kids for TF1 and Disney France.

Lolirock is a Zodiak Kids production for Disney France and France Télévisions, featuring five princesses with magical singing voices.

WildBrain’s Teletubbies get ready to rave with new music album ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’

WildBrain, a global leader in kids’ and family entertainment, is launching brand-new original Teletubbies music content this autumn consisting of 10 digital-first music videos and a full-length album titled Ready, Steady, Go!. Targeted at preschool audiences, the album is the first music release from the Teletubbies in over 20 years and is part of a multi-tiered franchise relaunch from WildBrain leading into the Teletubbies’ 25th anniversary in 2022. The new videos and music tracks were created and produced by WildBrain Spark, the company’s kids’ and family AVOD network and digital studios.

The first four videos – “Ready, Steady, Go!”, “Peek-A-Boo”, “Silly Things” and “Explorer” – premiered in September on the official WildBrain Teletubbies Channel on YouTube. An additional video drops each Saturday until November 20.

With global distribution by Universal Music Canada and Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, the full Ready, Steady, Go! album drops on digital music streaming platforms worldwide on October 15 and will also be available on CD. Created for kids and parents to enjoy together, Ready, Steady, Go! is filled with fun songs influenced by contemporary pop and dance music – all with a playful Teletubbies twist.

To support the music videos and album launch, WildBrain is executing an extensive global marketing, PR and social media campaign that incorporates the playfulness and fun that the Teletubbies are universally known for, as well as some other recognisable faces, including UK celebrity and singer Peter Andre filling the role of the Teletubbies band manager for their return. The Teletubbies have embarked on an international tour to promote the content, with broadcast appearances in the US and UK, and WildBrain will also be partnering with global influencers during the launch period and hosting music-themed events for families in the US and UK into 2022.

As well as recording a new album, the Teletubbies have been busy recently delighting fans with a satirical OK! Magazine break-up exposé, a Pride Month charity fashion collection, a “TubbyCoin” cryptocurrency April Fools prank and a surprise New York Fashion Week take-over by Tinky Winky.



BBC orders live-action series A Kind of Spark from 9 Story Media Group

9 Story Media Group has announced that BBC Children’s has ordered its new live action series A Kind of Spark (8 x 24’). Based on the award-winning book by neurodivergent children’s author Elle McNicoll, A Kind of Spark is the first project to be put into production from 9 Story’s first-look deal with award-winning publishing company Knights Of, which focuses on improving inclusivity in children’s books, both on the shelf and behind the scenes.

Winner of the Blue Peter Book Award and the Overall Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, A Kind of Spark tells the inspirational story of 11-year old Addie, a neurodivergent girl. When she learns about the witch trials that happened centuries ago in her hometown, Addie knows that there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just as there is more to her own. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her and her autism and make her voice heard?

Past and present interweave in eight action-packed episodes full of magic, mystery and friendship with a strong message of inclusion. A Kind of Spark is created for television by Anna McCleery (Free Rein, The Secret Life of Boys), written by Anna McCleery and Elle McNicoll (A Kind of Spark, Show Us Who You Are) and produced by 9 Story Media Group.

Sarah Muller, BBC Head of Commissioning & Acquisitions 7-12, says: “We’re delighted to bring this moving and powerful story to audiences in the UK. In Addie we have a character who is relatable, uplifting and inspiring and we can’t wait to bring her story to life. Our aim is to reflect all of our audience on screen and this story of difference and acceptance is one that we can’t wait to tell.”

“We are thrilled to partner with BBC, to bring this incredibly special story to the screen,” says Gráinne McNamara, Vice President, Live Action for 9 Story. “Just like the countless kids who have fallen in love with the book, we were instantly captivated and inspired by Addie’s way of looking at the world. Representation is crucial in kids television and we are excited to bring A Kind of Spark to new audiences in the UK.”

9 Story Media Group is a creator, producer and distributor of kids and family focused intellectual property whose award-winning animation studio, Brown Bag Films, is recognised around the world for brands such as Doc McStuffins, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Octonauts, Wild Kratts, Blue’s Clues and You, Ada Twist, Scientist andKarma’s World.




Acamar Films renews Bing partnership with master toy licensee Golden Bear

Acamar Films, producers of the multi-award-winning TV show Bing along with Brown Bag Films, has renewed its licensing deal with master toy licensee Golden Bear. The EMEA agreement, which extends the partnership for a further four years, will run until 2025.

Golden Bear has seen huge success with its Bing toys since launching into the UK market in the autumn of 2019. The initial range, featuring core character plush toys – including the award-winning Light Up Bing With Hoppity and figurines – was a sell-out sensation for Christmas 2019.

A pan-European partnership, Golden Bear’s toy sales for Bing have increased not just in the UK but across multiple markets including Italy, where Bing continues to be the top pre-school property, the Netherlands and Central Eastern Europe. Further expansion is planned for 2022 and beyond, in line with Bing’s growing licensing programme.

Over the three years since the range launched, Bing has become Golden Bear’s number one global license and seen an impressive 110 per cent sales uplift between 2019 and 2021. This growth continues into Christmas 2021, with a 52 per cent increase in retailer stocking points compared to AW20.

Delivering a multi-year product strategy to steadily expand the toy lines, the range has expanded further across feature plush, playsets and most recently bath toys. The development of additional characters and locations are serving to grow Bing’s world and ensure the longevity of the range.

Set to delight Bingsters this Christmas are the hero lines for AW21: Bing’s House Playset, with nine accessories, and the fun and interactive Musical Statues Dancing Bing, both of which will be fully supported across TV, digital and social platforms. The toys aim to inspire creativity, build imagination and encourage role-play in little ones as they bring the TV show to life.

“I am very proud of what our team and distribution partners have achieved with Bing over the last three years,” says Barry Hughes, Managing Director at Golden Bear. “We are delighted to have signed a further long-term agreement with Acamar Films on the property and look forward to introducing Bing toys into new markets. The highly experienced Acamar Films team have proven themselves to be experts in getting all the building blocks in place to ensure success in every market in which we have launched. We are so excited about what the next few years hold for Bing in both current and new territories.”

Natalie Harvey, Executive Director of Sales at Acamar Films adds: “Golden Bear have delivered a wonderful range of Bing toys which continue to delight our Bingsters across the world – with so much more to come. In the last three years, the Golden Bear team has shown true innovation, care and talent as they have built out the world of Bing, whilst successfully negotiating the industry’s many challenges.”

Bing is an International Emmy award-winning show with broadcast deals in over 130 territories worldwide including the USA, where it launched on Cartoonito with WarnerMedia in September 2021.

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go pulls into Channel5’s Milkshake this November

Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go – a new, vibrantly refreshed, 2D animated series following the iconic Thomas the Tank Engine – is pulling into Channel 5’s Milkshake on Monday, November 8th this year.

Produced by Mattel Television in partnership with Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana Studio, the new series is a major reimagining of the classic Thomas & Friends franchise and the fourth ever major revamp for the world famous kids’ animated show in its 75 year history.

The new series follows Thomas, more playful and relatable than ever before, as the hero of his own adventure. Thomas strives to be the Number One Tank Engine through trial and error, all while just enjoying being a kid.

According to Mattel, highlights of Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go include a greater range of character expressiveness, more physical comedy and music, and core characters that are now kids themselves and voiced by British child actors. The show has been ‘crafted to appeal to contemporary audiences’ sensibilities while maintaining Thomas’ core message about the value of friendship.’

 Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go incorporates 26 social-emotional, cognitive, and physical life lessons throughout the series, including friendship, taking turns, teamwork, self-help, and empathy.

Four additional engines make up the core cast of characters:

•Percy – Thomas’ best friend who loves telling silly jokes, Percy has a lot of hidden courage (that not even he’s aware of!) and will do anything to help his friends. 

•Nia – Nia is an engine who loves a good plan, offering both creative and practical solutions. Because Nia is so well travelled, she often has valuable insight into things the other engines haven’t seen before.

•Diesel – Diesel is always trying to one-up Thomas and inadvertently causes trouble for everyone in his quest to be “the real Number One Tank Engine.”

•Kana – An all-new electric high-speed rail train, she is fast talking, loves to race and creates gusts of wind that blow windmills and bend trees in her wake.

 Fred Soulie, senior vice president and general manager, Mattel Television, said: “This new creative direction for the classic Thomas & Friends franchise is crafted to appeal to contemporary audiences, yet still maintain the beloved characters’ core ethos: the value of friendship. Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go features stories that are both timeless and timely, with themes that will resonate with children, parents and caregivers alike.” 

Christopher Keenan, senior vice president, global content and executive producer, Mattel Television, added: “We can’t wait for the next generation of fans to meet Thomas and his friends. In Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go, we aim for audiences to have fun as we expand the world of Sodor in new and exciting ways. For the better part of the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of working on the Thomas & Friends television series and I’ve seen first-hand how Thomas and his core message about the value of friendship inspire a broad audience – children, parents and caregivers alike. These stories are both timeless and timely, with themes that continue to resonate with kids today.”

 Kelly Philp, director of marketing, Mattel UK, said: “Thomas & Friends has 92 per cent brand awareness in the UK, so we are looking forward to exciting our Thomas fans new and old with all the fun and adventure of the show’s new approach.

“The singable songs and endless laughs have already tested well with our pre-school audience and Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go will be a great tool for parents and caregivers too, due to the integrated life lessons and values that are incorporated within the content.”

 Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go will premiere on Channel 5 Milkshake on November 8th. In the UK, the series will be preceded by a new 60-minute animated motion picture, Thomas & Friends: Race for the Sodor Cup™, showing at Vue and Odeon cinemas throughout the UK from Friday, September 17th, which will be the first time that children and parents can see the new-look and feel Thomas & Friends before it hits television screens later in the year.

Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir passes $1bn in retail sales ahead of new movie

ZAG’s Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir has surpassed $1bn in worldwide retail sales, a major new milestone for both the property and the team behind it who has this week detailed a new roster of US licensees for the brand.

The news arrives in the lead up to the release of the $100m theatrical feature film based on the Miraculous IP, and follows the roll out of Season Four of the animated series created by ZAG and co-produced with ON kids and family.

“Since launching the Miraculous™ – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir brand at retail, Miraculous branded merchandise from over 300 licensing partners is currently available at major retailers and online in virtually every territory around the world across multiple categories,” commented Jeremy Zag, Founder and CEO, ZAG.

“We are grateful for the support of our content partners, licensees and retailers around the globe, and of course our millions of fans who have embraced the adventures of our heroes, Ladybug and Cat Noir. We have more exciting escapades yet to come and I can’t wait to share the news of an upcoming series that is sure to be embraced by our Miraculous fans.”

With continued demand for the Miraculous brand in the North American market, ZAG has signed over 50 new licensees in the past 12 months. Newly signed publishing agreements include Little Bee (Activity Formats) and Bendon (Color and Activity).  For fashion and accessories, new partners include HER (hair accessories and jewelry), Jacmel (jewelry), Accutime (watches and clocks), Jerry Leigh of California (girls’ apparel), SG Companies (seasonal footwear), and Heys International (luggage).

For activities, partners include TCG (puzzle and games), Horizon (craft & activity), Lil’ Anglers (fishing gear), What Kids Want (outdoor and seasonal), and Toy Factory (amusement plush). Food and beverage partners include Crunch Pak (healthy snacking), Good to Grow (beverages), Ferrara (fruit snacks), Zak! Designs (hydration, food storage, tabletop), and Kernels (popcorn, Canada).

Additional partners include ASO (wound care and first aid); and SmileMakers (stickers for medical field). In Canada, Danawares is on board for accessories. The new deals come on the heels of the recently signed global deals with Swatch’s Flik Flak and Epopia, who join long-standing partners Ferrero and PEZ.

In spring 2021, ZAG introduced a new Miraculous toy line from ZAG Lab and Playmates in the US on the e-commerce platforms of Walmart, Target and Kohls, selling-out within just a few hours. This autumn, brick and mortar stores will be carrying the toy line.

Other products hitting retail shelves in the U.S. this year include leveled readers and chapter books from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (LBYR), a division of the Hachette Book Group, costumes and accessories for wholesale retailers from InSpirit Designs, bedding from Jay Franco; underwear from Handcraft Manufacturing; and Bentex Apparel Group for sportswear, tees and sleepwear.

Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is available in over 120 territories across the globe.

Sixteen South’s preschool series Odo prepares to take flight in the US and Latin America

The recently launched preschool series, Odo – recognised for its warm-hearted and comic storytelling – is taking flight in the US and Latin America following a new broadcast deal between Sixteen South and WarnerMedia Kids & Family.

Under the partnership, the series will air on the company’s upcoming Cartoonito preschool programming block, slated for HBO Max across the two regions. Cartoonito will launch this autumn on HBO Max and Cartoon Network.

Meanwhile, Odo is now set to premiere in the UK on Channel 5’s Milkshake this summer, before rolling out to the German PSB children’s channel, KiKA as well as other territories. Currently in production with co-production partners, Letko, Odo will welcome kids aged three to five into a world of possibilities depicted in its hand drawn, 2.5D animation.

Although he is one of the littlest campers at the Forest Camp for Young Birds, Odo knows he can do absolutely anything that he sets his mind to.

The series aims to teach young children self-efficacy and to believe in themselves. Comedic and warm, with gender neutral appeal, the stories also deal with important themes such as immigration, racism and respect for others, and shows kids how to deal with setbacks in a meaningful way while promoting the development of social skills.

Colin Williams, showrunner and creator of Odo at Sixteen South, said: “Odo has had a fantastic response even before it is completed and is already taking flight around the world. We’re delighted that he has now also landed on the mighty HBO Max Cartoonito strand and that his adventures will be seen by kids all across the Americas – and we hope that they will love him as much as we do.”

Sixteen South Rights are managing the international distribution rights for Odo and Bulldog Licensing has been recently appointed to represent the global licensing rights for the brand.

The WarnerMedia Kids & Family/Cartoonito deal follows recent sales of Odo to Canal+ France, ABC Australia, TVO-Kids! Canada, RTE Ireland, Mini Mini Poland, SVT Sweden, NRK Norway, S4C Wales and VRT Ketnet Belgium.

Odo is produced by Sixteen South and Warsaw-based 2D animation studio Letko with funding provided by the UK government funded Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), which is managed by the BFI, NI Screen and the Polish Film Institute.

First Moonbug Kids branded channel launches in Italy through Mediaset broadcast partnership

Moonbug Entertainment has formed a new partnership with the Italian media company, Mediaset, to launch the first Moonbug Kids branded channel to the territory, available through the Mediaset Infinity digital platform.

Under the partnership, the subscription based channel will offer families across Italy access to Moonbug’s roster of shows including CoComelon, Blippie, and Little Baby Bum. New content will be added each month.

“Moonbug is committed to creating content and experiences that are fun and enriching, and we are thrilled to continue bringing our premium catalog of shows to families across Europe,” said Nicolas Eglau, managing director EMEA and APAC, Moonbug.

“This partnership with Mediaset, the number one broadcaster in Italy, speaks to our mission for future expansion and solidifies our footprint as a leading brand for children across the continent.”

Moonbug’s programming is recognised and enjoyed for allowing children to learn and grow by promoting healthy values like compassion, empathy and resilience. Through its visuals, kids can connect with relatable narratives like eating vegetables and getting ready for bed as well as singing-along to playful nursery rhymes that help them learn letters, numbers, animal sounds, colors and more.