Southern Star and ABC Australia to launch Bananas in Pyjamas in May 2011

By AMRITA VALECHA | 15 March, 2011 - 16:48

ABC TV Australia has teamed up with Southern Star Entertainment Sydney and Southern Star Singapore to bring back the globally renowned pre-school show, ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ – this time as an animated series (104episodes x 12 mins). The new show will have its world premiere in May 2011 on ABC TV’s digital channel, ABC 2 [Australia’s leading channel for pre-school programs] and other territories will begin airing shortly thereafter. The original live action series was created by the ABC in the 1990’s and had enormous world wide success. The animation series [a mix of 3Dand 2D] aims to develop and extend the original premise and give it a fresh relevance to contemporary audiences.

Southern Star and the ABC TV started development work on the show in 2009 and production proper commenced in early 2010. A team of over 50 artists from Australia and Singapore are working on the series and they are currently 70% into the production cycle.

Talking to AnimationXpress Asia Pacific, series producer Noel Price of Southern Star said, “Bananas In Pyjamas is an iconic media property and in a crowded, pre-school television market, one of the very few that is able to significantly stand out from the pack. The challenge in bringing back such a highly regarded and fondly remembered show is to stay true to the fundamentals of the original while bringing new storytelling approaches that appeal to changed audience tastes. Great care has been taken to retain the essential innocence of the original – it’s still about those two naïve and loveable, pyjama wearing bananas, B1 and B2. And all their old, Cuddlestown friends reappear as playful as ever - the fun loving Teddies, the mischievous Rat, the gossipy cow Camembert and her best friend Dolly, the sheep. However, in order to expand the ‘Banana universe’  and the range of stories that can be told, some new characters have also been introduced; Topsy the cheeky kangaroo, Charlie the inventive monkey, Pedro, the carefree pig and Bernard, the wise old dog. And of course, animation allows us to open up the landscape and have a lot more physical activity and visual storytelling than the old, studio based series was able to attempt.  The overall result is a lot of fun filled episodes which highlight the hilarious antics and playful slapstick that people all around the world have come to know, love and expect from Bananas In Pyjamas”.

ABC TV’s Controller of Children’s Television, Tim Brooke-Hunt, said: “The Bananas in Pyjamas have been a phenomenal success both in Australia and internationally over the past 19 years.

The re-introduction via this new animated series is a hugely important step.  Both Barbara Uecker (ABC TV’s Head of Children’s Programming who is also Co-Executive Producer of the new series) and I are delighted to work with Southern Star and we have every confidence that the new series will engage and entertain a new generation of pre-schoolers.  We look forward with eager anticipation to the series launch on ABC2 in May”.

When asked about working with ABC TV Australia, Price commented, “Over the past decade, Southern Star has co-produced or produced on commission from the ABC a number of high quality children’s series in both live action and animation [e.g. Blue Water High, Tracey Mc Bean, Classic Tales, Bottle Top Bill ].All of these shows have enjoyed critical acclaim, garnered great audiences and sold all around the world and we certainly expect Bananas In Pyjamas to maintain – and hopefully, greatly exceed – those levels of success. In every instance, the working relationship with the ABC has always been constructive, productive and efficient. The bottom line though for any independent producer of children’s shows is that the ABC is the major broadcaster of children’s programming in Australia. Its capacity to schedule across 3 free to air channels and to support productions with high quality websites and good promotion means it’s an extremely valued broadcast partner. As well, the ABC enjoys enormous community trust – especially from parents – and this makes it the ideal platform for pre-school shows such as ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ because that’s where the target audience is in greatest numbers. Of course, that also brings with it the obligation for producers to maintain the high standards that are expected by this audience and which the ABC zealously guards – and quite rightly.  But that’s a challenge we happily and willingly accept.”

Southern Star Singapore in conjunction with Southern Star Entertainment is developing a number of different properties for the international market.