Puffin Rock: Brought to life in a Derry studio, story of a tiny puffin that's set to take TV by storm
A charming children's cartoon narrated by Irish actor Chris O'Dowd and brought to life in a Londonderry studio has been snapped up by major TV networks.
Puffin Rock is to air across the UK and Ireland after being signed up by broadcasters Nick Jr UK –home of kids' favourites Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig – and RTÉ Jr.
The new animated TV series follows the lives of a family of big-beaked birds on a wild and beautiful Irish island.
Northern Irish children's media company Dog Ears will produce half of the animation in a new studio in Derry, as well as all the scripting, voices and music recording for the Puffin Rock series.
Music for the show will be composed by Derry-based independent label, Smalltown America, who will use Irish musical talent to score the series.
The hero of the show is Pip, an adventure-loving young puffling, who explores the island with her little brother Baba, making friends, hunting for food – and trying to stay off the dinner menu.
Narrator, Chris O'Dowd – of Bridesmaids, Moone Boy and The IT Crowd fame – mixes amusing observations with interesting facts about the wildlife on the island. It will be the actor's first foray into children's TV.
"I love the whole idea behind Puffin Rock and the style of the artwork. I can't wait to be involved in it, but then I do love anything with puffins," he said.
The cross-border production has also received funding from NI Screen.
Chief executive officer Richard Williams said: "Puffin Rock is a fabulous concept and we look forward to the start of production of the series.
"It is a great boost for Dog Ears and Derry and we see this as the start of a thriving animation sector in Northern Ireland."
Paul Young of Cartoon Saloon – the Oscar-nominated Irish animation studio that will co-produce the show – said Puffin Rock will be launched for sales in Cannes next month.
Nickelodeon UK's director of Programming, Tim Patterson, said: "Puffin Rock with its beautiful art style and charming storytelling is a perfect complement to the Nick Jr schedule.
"It is a rich, gorgeous show and I am sure kids and their parents will be drawn into the programme's beguiling world."
The TV series – which airs in October 2014 – will feature 39 seven-minute episodes and global publisher Penguin will produce digital and physical format books and products to accompany it.
Launched in 1999 as the world's first channel dedicated to pre-school children, Nick Jr is home to popular shows such as Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom and Bubble Guppies.