By Max Goldbart
International TV Editor
The BBC is to triple its investment in UK-made animation for 7-to-12 year olds over the coming years as kids chief Patricia Hidalgo talks up the potential for the corporation to produce the next generation of global hits.
The BBC’s goal is to air three UK original animations for this older children’s audience per year, up from just one as it currently stands.
Addressing the Manchester Animation Festival this morning, former Turner EMEA kids boss Hidalgo described the move as a “significant increase,” which comes as the BBC delivers on “great content for this older target” in the factual-entertainment, drama and comedy spaces.
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Additional animations will start appearing in around 18 months and in the meantime the BBC is looking to increase its animation mix through acquisitions and pre-buys. Last year’s content budget for older-skewing kids channel CBBC was £58M ($78M), with £25M ($33.8M) spent on younger-skewing CBeebies.
Spend on animation for 0-6-year olds will remain steady and Hidalgo, who used to run the European animation studio at Cartoon Network and oversaw hits such as The Amazing World of Gumball, wants to “create many great British animated shows that can resonate with children here in the UK and benefit from the possibility of also becoming global hits.”
Hidalgo has sprung into action on animation after her team conducted research showing only three culturally British animated titles were in the age bracket’s most-watched – Mr Bean. Horrid Henry and Danger Mouse – compared to 10 from other countries.
Even UK-made shows such as The Amazing World of Gumball feature US characters and are set in the US, she added.
“That’s not ideal for these children,” added Hidalgo. “They are quite frequently watching shows that do not completely reflect them, their culture, or their world.”
Hidalgo first signalled her animation ambitions over the summer, when she kickstarted the £800,000 ($1.1M) Ignite initiative in a bid to discover a UK equivalent of The Simpsons, which she has previously described as “about roast beef instead of turkey.”
Ignite, which Hidalgo said is a first of its kind and will be repeated in 18 months, will hand development funding to 20 producers, with three making it to pilot stage with a view to full commission.
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The Manchester Animation Festival is running to November 30.
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