Belfast Telegraph

Donaghadee's Lifeboat Luke launches onto TV

Arab television station Al Jazeera is among the broadcasters which have snapped up the international rights to an animated children’s programme inspired by the Donaghadee RNLI lifeboat.

Lifeboat Luke, a programme aimed at four to seven year olds set in the “mad, magical seaside town of Donaghadoo”, is now set to be aired internationally in the US, Denmark and Slovenia, as well as on Al Jazeera. It has already proved a hit on Irish television screens after being aired on RTE2.

Lifeboat Luke, Northern Ireland's first home produced animated TV series for the international market, is due to be released this month as a book and a DVD.

It was created by Holywood studio Straandlooper Animation in a partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Donaghadee resident and Lifeboat Luke creator and director Alastair Mcllwain said the programme has a serious beach and sea safety message behind each episode.

"This first book and DVD make great partners. The book has been designed in a way that can be shared by parents and kids together, it reflects the daft and slightly irreverent approach we've taken to the series and adds another dimension to the whole idea,” he said.

Alastair said the close association with the RNLI, who receive a percentage of all sales of the books and DVDs, has been key to the programme’s appeal.

"As a sailor myself, I've a lifelong interest in the show's subject. In fact my wife and I first thought of the idea for Luke in 1992 so I'm delighted that the partnership will enable some of our profits to go to help the work of the RNLI and its volunteer crews. I'm also really delighted that we've managed to produce and finance the series entirely within the island of Ireland. It was worth the wait.”

Anna Classon, RNLI fundraising and communications manager for Ireland, said the charity was delighted to be involved.

“Our lifeboats and volunteer lifeboat crews can be involved in some very difficult and dangerous rescues so being involved with Lifeboat Luke, which appeals to younger viewers, is great fun. Today’s Lifeboat Luke fans may be our future lifeboat crews.”

\[Carmel Robinson\]Last year Irish RNLI Lifeboats launched 922 times rescuing 1,119 people, helping on average around 4 young people everyday.

For more information visit www.rnli.ie or www.rnli.org.uk or www.lifeboatluke.tv.calvin forbes

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