Belfast Telegraph

Belfast TV firm helping put US children to bed

By Amanda Poole

It could be “no more tears before bedtime” as a pre-school entertainment show produced in Northern Ireland makes its debut on US television tonight.

Pajanimals, co-produced by Belfast-based company Sixteen South Television and the Jim Henson Company, debuts exclusively in the US at 8pm eastern time on the Sprout channel and could become the next children’s TV global phenomenon.

The Pajanimals, designed by the legendary Jim Henson Creature Shop, were created to help parents and care-givers with the often tricky and fraught bedtime routine.

The show features four colourful puppet characters — Squacky the duck, Sweetpea Sue the pony, CowBella the cow and Apollo the puppy, created from an original concept by LA-based toy designer Jeff Muncy.

Sixteen South, based on Linen Hall Street in Belfast, is also responsible for Sesame Tree, a version of Sesame Street made in Northern Ireland.

Colin Williams, creative director at Sixteen South, said: “Sprout is a big channel, so we are very pleased. The exposure to the show will only increase now.

“Henson are looking after international sales and I know they've had a good response since they took it to the market last week.

“Where and when it will air next isn't clear. Hopefully it will air all over the place.”

He said it was great that Northern Ireland's creative industry has been given another boost.

“As a company we are only three and a half years old. We are a Belfast company made up of local people,” he said.

“It was a 22-week shoot providing six months work for 55 people, which is great.

“It's bringing a lot of employment to this part of the world and that's good to see.”

Lisa Henson, chief executive of The Jim Henson Company, said Pajanimals is designed to help very young children become comfortable with a bedtime routine.

Aimed at children aged two to five, Sprout is available in over 50 million homes across the US and features 24-hour rolling preschool programming.

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Based in Belfast, Sixteen South Television makes live action, puppetry and animated children’s programming for UK and international broadcasters. Recent productions include the third series of the award-winning Big and Small, in partnership with Kindle Entertainment. Sixteen South also created Sesame Tree and Big City Park, a co-production with BBC Scotland.

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