BBC targets U.S. with ‘Noddy’

Show will be first made specifically for N. American market

MONTREAL — Lensing has begun in Toronto on “Noddy,” a co-production teaming BBC Worldwide, the Enid Blyton Co. and Catalyst Entertainment of Toronto for the first series ever created by the BBC specifically for the North American market.

The kids show is based on the best-selling “Noddy” books by British author Enid Blyton and it mixes live-action, animation and puppetry to portray the world of the well-known wooden toy-man named Noddy.

The show was created and executive produced by Rick Siggelkow, vice president of the children’s division of BBC Worldwide and co-creator of the Emmy-winning PBS kids series “Shining Time Station.” “Noddy” will also air on PBS in the U.S., beginning in the fall of 1998, with TV Ontario and CBC broadcasting the series in the Great White North.

The initial order is for 40 half-hour episodes plus a one-hour Christmas special. Writers on the series include Brian McConnachie (“Saturday Night Live,” “SCTV”), Ellis Weiner (“Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”), Sean Kelly (“Shining Time Station”), Jill Golick (the Canadian “Sesame Street”) and Kate Barris (“Kratt’s Creatures”). The cast includes Sean McCann (“Swann”), Jayne Eastwood and Katie Boland.

Each episode includes an eight-minute stop-motion animated segment featuring Noddy from a series that was produced by the BBC in the early 1990s. These animated shorts have been broadcast in more than 40 countries, but not in the U.S. More than 60 million copies of the “Noddy” books have been sold around the globe, but Blyton’s books are not well-known in the U.S.

“Noddy has no history in the States,” said Siggelkow. “In the States, it’s a clean slate and that’s fine. He’s a wonderful character and the same qualities that have made him popular elsewhere will make him popular in the States.”

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