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October 14, 2013 10:13 pm
The Clangers, the pink, mouse-shaped creatures that first appeared on the BBC in 1969, are set to return to the small screen thanks to a £5m deal to revive the cult animated series.
The new series of 52 episodes is being co-produced by the BBC and Sprout, a US pre-school television company, together with the UK family entertainment companies Coolabi and Smallfilms.
The deal underlines the strength of global demand for children’s television content – particularly proven franchises – and comes a month after Channel 5 announced plans to broadcast a new, computer-generated series of The Wombles , which first aired in the 1970s.
The new series of Clangers, which will air in 2015, is being produced using the same stop-motion animation technique as the original. This involves photographing handcrafted models in thousands of slightly different positions to create the illusion of motion.
Peter Firmin, 84, who created Clangers with Oliver Postgate in the 1960s, will work on the new series as an executive producer.
“The new series will include great storytelling with lots of heart,” said Mr Firmin. “It will also be technically improved. When you watch the original Clangers you have to make allowances for the limitations of the animation techniques when it was made. It was magical for its time, but this is a new Clangers for a new age.”
Daniel Postgate, Oliver Postgate’s son, is also involved in the new series, writing storylines and scripts.
Jeremy Banks, chief executive of Coolabi, which holds rights to children’s shows including Poppy Cat and Bagpuss, said the new series of Clangers was “one of those rare pieces of intellectual property that has the potential to be a truly international success”.
Thanks to its British heritage, Clangers is likely to qualify for the recently introduced UK tax relief for animation and high-end television, Mr Banks said. The government announced in April that qualifying producers would benefit from a tax credit equivalent to about a fifth of their UK expenditure.
Like Noddy and Thomas the Tank Engine , the Clangers rank among the best-loved characters in the history of UK television.
The long-nosed creatures live in harmony on a small blue planet and communicate with distinctive whistles. They emerge on the surface of the planet through holes topped with dustbin lids, which flip open with a “clang”.
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