Sixteen South media company in the running for major TV award
Despite potential funding cuts for Northern Ireland's ever-growing arts and creative industries sector, Belfast-based media firm Sixteen South is in line for a major television industry award.
Lily's Driftwood Bay, voiced by Stephen Fry and Ardal O'Hanlon, is already a hit show in the UK, US and Australia and now a finalist in the best pre-school programme at the Broadcast Awards 2015.
Winners will be announced in February at the 20th anniversary of the awards in London.
Earlier this month, it emerged that government funding for Northern Ireland Screen, which has supported Sixteen South in the past, was facing large cuts.
The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure's draft budget, released in November, warned of potential funding cuts of 10% to 11.2% - equating to around £10m.
Creative industries represent around 4.6% of the workforce in Northern Ireland, with more than 200 active businesses in the area of film, television and digital media, providing external sales in excess of £156m.
Lily's Driftwood Bay is a mixed-media animation series and is the first international series of its kind to be created and produced in Northern Ireland.
The cast also includes Jane Horrocks, Annette Crosbie, Richard Dormer and Peter Mullan. Lily herself is voiced by Belfast girl Orlagh O'Keefe in the 52-episode series for children aged between four and seven.
Colin Williams is the Belfast-born creative director of Sixteen South and the show's producer and director.
Other Sixteen South productions include BAFTA-winning series 'Big City Park', which was filmed entirely in Ormeau Park, and the Emmy-nominated Pajanimals, which airs to 300 million homes throughout the world.
"To be shortlisted by our peers in the television industry for a Broadcast Award is simply fantastic," said Mr Williams.
"We love Lily's Driftwood Bay and we're so proud that she was created and brought to life in Belfast.
"We're up against stiff competition, but we're excited that the judges loved the programme enough to name Sixteen South as a finalist for this prestigious award."
The award shortlisting comes after Sixteen South was once again named as one of the fastest growing companies in the Deloitte Ireland Fast 50, UK Fast 50 and EMEA Fast 500, with a growth rate of 639%.
Sixteen South also enjoys a successful partnership with The Jim Henson Company, creator of The Muppets.
Third party licensing label HIP (Henson Independent Properties) is worldwide distributor for Lily's Driftwood Bay.