FuturumKids adds Charlie’s Ark to its roster of preschool series

With global broadcast sales and licensing activity for its hit preschool property Paddles ramping up and production well under way on its newest preschool property Ling Ling, animation and media company FuturumKids has announced development plans for a major new property, based on the delightful children’s book Charlie’s Ark.


Charlies Ark tells the story of Charlie, a five-year-old boy, and the ark-shaped toy box in which he keeps his toy animals with their ark-inspired rainbow top-knots, manes and tails. But these are not just toys; they all come to life when Charlie whispers the magic ‘wordspell’, and together Charlie and the toys have many magical adventures.

The books, created and written by award-winning illustrator Mike Payne and illustrated by Adam Pescott and Mike Payne, have clear televisual appeal, and the response to the concept was extremely positive at MIPTV in April. Mike is the creator and original artist of the globally popular grey, blue-nosed bear ‘Tatty Teddy’, which he drew for 17 years.

The 52 x 11 animated series, which has already started production in Ireland and Las Palmas, aims to replicate the engaging style of the books, whose charm, evocative storylines and emotionally engaging illustrations have strong cross-generational appeal.

Longer-term plans will include licensing and merchandising, building on Mike Payne’s enormous success in commercial greeting card design, books, and gift concepts that have sold hundreds of millions worldwide.

Charlie’s Ark is a major addition to the fast-growing FuturumKids portfolio, which already includes Paddles and Ling Ling. Roy Smoothe, international strategic branding specialist, recently joined the Charlie’s Ark team in the role of Global Branding Licensing and Merchandising Director. Arthur Maxfield, former CEO of World of Books, is also involved as a Board Member of the Charlie’s Ark team.

FuturumKids includes members of the team behind the seven-time Emmy-award-winning children’s series Jakers! as well as senior figures from HIT Entertainment and its global franchises Bob the Builder, Barney and Thomas and Friends.

Eamon Mac Giolla Bhuí, CCO at FuturumKids, says: “With two children’s shows already broadcasting or in production we were keen to build on our success to date. However, we needed to find the right property to support our growing reputation as a producer of quality children’s entertainment. Charlie’s Ark is just that property. Both visually and as a magical piece of storytelling it’s ideal for children’s TV. We’re looking forward enormously to developing Charlie’s delightful adventures for the screen.”

FuturumKids and Monster Entertainment bring Paddles to Australia

Animation and media company FuturumKids, whose new CGI show for four-to-seven-year-olds, Paddles, has launched in a number of markets, has announced its arrival in its first major market outside Europe with a deal to show Paddles on the Stan streaming service in Australia.

Stan is a video-on-demand subscription service that provides its customers with access to a wide range of movies, television programmes, sports and other audio-visual content. This includes original productions and high-quality acquisitions, notably in children’s programming, where Stan has been building a strong portfolio of quality kids’ content.

With its wide availability on multiple devices, Stan has the fastest subscription growth rate of any streaming service in Australia. The show will launch on the Australian network in the autumn, boosting the fast-growing presence of the lovable polar bear in multiple markets.

The deal was brokered by brand management company Monster Entertainment, which last year signed a global distribution deal for Paddles. Monster Entertainment will focus on bringing Paddles to new territories around the world except Korea, which will be managed by local company Neon.

Paddles, a 52 x 11 series, tells the story of a polar bear cub who accidentally finds himself in Ireland – and is brought up by a pack of Irish wolfhounds.

This deal is the latest stage in the broadcast and merchandising development of Paddles, whose makers include members of the team behind the seven-time Emmy-award-winning children’s series Jakers! FuturumKids also contains senior figures from HIT Entertainment and its global franchises Bob the Builder, Barney and Thomas and Friends.

Paddles has already been sold to Cartoonito UK and launched on Ireland’s RTE with more major broadcast deals imminent. The Futurum team will be building on this success at MIPTV, where it expects to see strong interest in the show, which is also making inroads into the licensing arena.

As well as distribution deals with Monster and Neon, an e-commerce venture for plush is in the works, with a merchandising strategy already in place. This is led by Niall Watters, formerly Head of Brand Partnerships at ChannelSight, a leading e-commerce intelligence and performance optimisation platform. He is now Head of Commercial at Futurum Group and building a merchandising strategy that will start by bringing specially developed Paddles plush and other items to market at the same time as the show launches in a number of countries.

The first range of Paddles licensing and merchandising products is already on the way and a number of other deals are to be announced in the runup to MIPTV.

Brendan Kelly, Head of Sales at FuturumKids, says: “There’s always a very strong demand for preschool entertainment but it takes something special to attract the attention of a streaming service like Stan, which is focusing on building a portfolio of quality kids’ shows. We believe Paddles perfectly fits this aim and are thrilled that Monster Entertainment has brokered this deal with a leading name in Australia’s VoD market.”

FuturumKids announces 10 new ‘Paddles’ offerings, including plush and apparel, will hit stores in time for Christmas

Following the successful launch on Cartoonito UK and RTE of state-of-the-art animation series Paddles, its creator, FuturumKids, is looking forward to a busy Christmas for its e-commerce range of Paddles merchandise.

Paddles fans can look forward to ten SKUs including plush and apparel. Manufactured in Shanghai and distributed via fulfilment houses in Northampton, London and Dublin, these will be available through the FuturumKids e-commerce portal well in time for the Christmas market.

Further broadcast expansion is expected over the coming months, with brand management company Monster Entertainment – which is handling global television sales for Paddles in all territories except Korea – expected to announce further territory deals in the coming weeks.

Paddles tells the story of a polar bear cub accidentally delivered by the Stork to a frozen River Shannon in Ireland – and brought up by a pack of Irish wolfhounds. Through the adventures, mistakes and discoveries of its funny and huggable star, and his friends Bracken, Bridie and Fagan, the series shows its young audience that being different is something to be celebrated and enjoyed.

This is the latest stage in the broadcast and merchandising development of Paddles, whose makers include members of the team behind the seven-time Emmy-award-winning children’s series Jakers!

Both Futurum and Monster Entertainment will be sending a strong team to entertainment industry exhibition MIPCOM, with the aim of building more broadcast alliances. Apart from expansion for Paddles, new FuturumKids projects including Ling Ling, the story of a wide-eyed panda newly arrived from Shanghai at Tavistock’s International School for Animals, London’s premier and most eccentric – preschool. Ling Ling is already in production.

“We’ve been delighted by the response to Paddles in both the UK and Ireland,” says Brendan Kelly, Head of Sales at FuturumKids. “The wonderful characters, witty stories and stunning animation have clearly charmed a large number of four-to-seven-year-old viewers – and their parents. As the show’s reach continues to expand to new territories and new viewers, now is undoubtedly the right time to address growing demand for Paddle merchandise – and we’re ready.”

FuturumKids recently announced the establishment of a global HQ for its growing list of productions. The company is now based in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, where its new HQ will house both the company’s main offices and a full animation studio.