TVNZ AND WILDBRAIN TELEVISION COMMISSION BADJELLY FROM MUKPUDDY ANIMATION, SPHERE MEDIA AND CANTILEVER MEDIA
Starring Miriam Margolyes OBE, Rhys Darby and an array of international talent, brand-new animated series based on the classic Spike Milligan story now in production
This first-ever New Zealand/Canada/UK animated treaty co-production for kids will be distributed by WildBrain
Auckland, NZ; Toronto, ON – 2 November 2023 – New Zealand’s Mukpuddy Animation, Canada’s Sphere Animation and the UK’s Cantilever Media are pleased to announce they have teamed up to produce the brand-new kids’ series, Badjelly, starring Miriam Margolyes OBE and based on a beloved story from legendary comedian Spike Milligan. Commissioned by New Zealand’s TVNZ and WildBrain Television’s Family Channel in Canada, Badjelly is the first-ever treaty co-production in kids’ animation between New Zealand, Canada and UK studios. ABC Australia has also acquired the series for their platforms. The new series is being produced with the permission of Spike Milligan Productions and the family of Spike Milligan.
Production on the 13 x 22’ 2D-animated series for kids 7 to 11-years old began earlier this year, with delivery scheduled for 2025. WildBrain is global distributor outside of New Zealand and Australia.
Based on the beloved kids’ book, Badjelly the Witch: A Fairy Story, an irreverent modern fairy tale by renowned Irish comedian, poet, playwright and actor, Spike Milligan, Badjelly delivers a fresh new take for today’s kids on this classic story, all the while preserving the crazy humour, bizarre situations and quirky characters from Milligan’s original tale that has entertained kids for generations.
Renowned BAFTA-winning stage and screen actor, Miriam Margolyes OBE, who delighted audiences as Professor Pomona Sprout in the Harry Potter film franchise, will star as the voice of the enigmatic Badjelly.
Alongside Margolyes, Rhys Darby (Trolls, Jumanji: The Next Level, Carmen Sandiego) stars as the mischievous Binklebonk, Ava Diakhaby (Shortland Street) is the charming and brave Rose, and rising star Malachi Hall (The Flatshare) is the fearless Tim. They are joined by an array of international talent, including Roisin Conaty (GameFace), Cohen Holloway (Under the Vines), Mandip Gill (Dr Who), Joe Wilkinson (Sex Education), Katherine Parkinson (Significant Other), Kiell Smith-Bynoe (Ghosts) and Julian Barratt (The Great).
Milligan originally wrote Badjelly the Witch as a fairy tale for his children in 1973, telling the hilarious story of sister and brother, Rose and Tim, who go searching for their lost cow, Lucy, only to encounter a cast of strange and magical characters in the great black forest and be captured by Badjelly, the wickedest witch in all the world. Packed full of weird and wonderful surprises about good triumphing over evil, the book was hand-written and illustrated by Milligan himself, and published by Penguin. It was later turned into a successful audio play starring Milligan and a few years later retold with a full orchestra, released by Polydor Records.
Badjelly represents a significant step for Mukpuddy, leading the charge to raise the profile of animated storytelling from New Zealand. Head writer and co-director Ryan Cooper is brimming with enthusiasm, stating, “We’ve assembled a great team of writers and creatives who are taking Spike Milligan’s creation to another level of enchantment, thrills and whimsical quirky fun. Stay tuned as this magical Badjelly animated series rekindles the spirit of Milligan’s whimsical world and takes you on an unforgettable adventure!”
“Badjelly the Witch is wildly popular in New Zealand,” says producer Simon Ward. “Generations of Kiwi kids have grown up with the book, the radio play and countless versions of the stage show. We’re delighted to bring this beloved classic to a global audience with our take on Spike Milligan’s bonkers adventure.”
Marlo Miazga, president of Sphere Media Kids & Family, says: “This project represents such fresh creative collaboration that our team leaped at the opportunity to join the party. Badjelly the Witch was the invention of one of the great comic geniuses of all time, Spike Milligan, and she is voiced in our new series by another national treasure, Miriam Margolyes. We’re thrilled to join forces with a team of unrivalled international animation talent to give this exciting new show the best launch pad for global success.”
“It’s a complete honour to be the UK Producers on Badjelly,” says Producer Carys Rowan of Cantilever Media. “We have a dream team who have an aligned vision: to create funny, relatable and visually beautiful content that doesn’t talk down to our kids.”
The development of Badjelly was made possible with the support of Ara ki Te Puna Kairangi – the New Zealand Government’s Premium Development Fund. Additionally, Badjelly is funded by Te Puna Kairangi, the New Zealand Government’s Premium Productions Fund, NZ On Air, and the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate (NZSPR) as well as the Ontario and Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credits, the British Film Institute’s UK Global Screen Fund and the UK Animation Tax Credit.
For more information, please contact:
Aimée Norman at The DDA Group
+44 (0) 7957 564 050
About Spike Milligan
Terence Alan “Spike” Milligan KBE was a celebrated Irish writer and comedian and the leader of the comedy troupe behind the legendary BBC radio series, The Goon Show, starring alongside Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine. An iconoclast and genius of absurdist satire, he left an indelible comedic mark on British humour, influencing a legion of legendary comics from the Monty Python troupe to Eddie Izzard and beyond. In 1992 Milligan was awarded his CBE for his work as an entertainer, broadcaster and writer, and in 1994 he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards. At the age of 81, Milligan was made an Honorary KBE. He died at his home in Rye in 2002 at the age of 83.
TVNZ is New Zealand’s state-owned, commercially funded broadcaster. Our purpose is to inspire the conversations of Aotearoa, and enrich the lives of New Zealanders by sharing the moments that matter to our communities, regions and people. Each day, TVNZ reaches more than 2 million Kiwis through channels TVNZ 1, 2, DUKE and online entertainment platform, TVNZ+. Leading news site 1news.co.nz and socially driven online news brand Re: connect people to the important issues throughout the day, however they choose to engage.
At WildBrain we inspire imaginations to run wild, engaging kids and families everywhere with great content and beloved brands. With approximately 13,000 half-hours of filmed entertainment in our library—one of the world’s most extensive—we are home to such treasured franchises as Peanuts, Teletubbies, Strawberry Shortcake, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Caillou, Inspector Gadget and Degrassi. Our integrated, in-house capabilities spanning production, distribution and licensing set us apart as a unique independent player in the industry, managing IP across its entire lifecycle, from concept to content to consumer products.
At our state-of-the-art animation studio in Vancouver, we produce award-winning, fan-favourite series, such as The Snoopy Show; Snoopy in Space; Sonic Prime; Chip and Potato; Strawberry Shortcake: Berry in the Big City; Carmen Sandiego; Go, Dog. Go! and many more. Enjoyed in more than 150 countries and on over 500 streaming platforms and telecasters, our content is everywhere kids and families view entertainment. WildBrain Spark, our AVOD network, has garnered over 1 trillion minutes of watch time on YouTube, offering one of the largest selections of kids’ content on that platform. Our leading consumer-products and location-based entertainment agency, WildBrain CPLG, represents our owned and partner properties in every major territory worldwide. Our television group owns and operates some of Canada’s most-viewed family entertainment channels.
WildBrain is headquartered in Canada with offices worldwide and trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: WILD).
Formed in a basement in 2002 by three young friends fresh out of animation school, Mukpuddy has grown to become New Zealand’s premiere 2D animation studio. Now a self-contained, full-service studio, Mukpuddy caters to all aspects of the 2D animation process, from scriptwriting and voice-over recording through to compositing, with in-house character designers, background artists, editors and animators.
Mukpuddy is committed to telling funny, heartfelt, original stories, and creating rich, interesting worlds for their characters to explore and grow in. From the lovably odd residents of Ngaro Island in The Barefoot Bandits, to the wide world of characters Quimbo meets on his quests, to the intergalactic Adventures of Tumeke Space, Mukpuddy is known for their ability to create unique and funny shows, that appeal to an international audience.
Short-form works include the NZFC-funded short Out of Order, The Drawing Show, animated slacker comedy Jandal Burn and comedy-horror Night Eyes, as well as helping bring to life New Zealand’s first 100% te reo Māori cartoon for preschool children, Pipi Mā.
With a strong sense of nostalgia for the shows and movies we loved as kids, Mukpuddy makes cartoons that are both silly and exciting, with characters we truly care about.
About Sphere Animation
Sphere Animation is one of Canada’s biggest 2D digital animation studios. Led by artists with exceptional expertise and boasting a state-of-the-art production infrastructure, it has seen its series garner success in Canada and around the world. The studio draws on two decades of experience to deliver large-scale projects for giants such as Netflix, Universal and PBS. These include well-known titles like Curious George, Arthur and F is for Family. Sphere Animation is also behind original creations for young and older alike, including Red Ketchup, Chop Chop Ninja, ToonMarty, My Goldfish is Evil!, Ben’s City, 2 Nuts and a Richard! And, coming soon, Riley Rocket. The Sphere Animation brand belongs to Sphere, a Canadian film and television industry leader with offices in Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa.
About Sphere Media Kids and Family
Sphere Media captivates viewers with its kids and family shows, both animated and live-action, which reach diverse audiences through major broadcasters in Canada and around the world. It creates and produces this content and also distributes its television products. Its teams skilfully adapt existing concepts, besides developing compelling new program ideas. Among its most popular shows are Backyard Beats, Gabby’s Farm and The Zone, and upcoming Project Rube. Acclaimed animated series include Curious George, Arthur and F is for Family and original creations such as Chop Chop Ninja, ToonMarty, My Goldfish is Evil!, Ben’s City, 2 Nuts and a Richard! And, coming soon, Riley Rocket. The Sphere Media brand belongs to Sphere, a Canadian film and television industry leader with offices in Montréal, Toronto and Ottawa.
About Cantilever Media
Cantilever Media develops, finances and produces high-quality family entertainment for film and television in both live action and animation.
We develop and produce documentary films, including a number of high-profile sports documentaries with our co-producer AdHoc Films, including the award winning feature doc ‘I am Duran’ and the 4×60’ doc series ‘Mission to Burnley’ which premiered on Sky in the UK in August 2023 .
Our first animated theatrical feature film is ‘The Amazing Maurice’, based on the award winning book ‘The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents’ by Sir Terry Pratchett, written by Terry Rossio (Shrek, Aladdin) and is a co-production with Ulysses Productions in Germany (Louis and the Aliens, Oops Noah is Gone). The film features an all star cast including Hugh Laurie, Emelia Clarke, David Thewlis, Himesh Patel, David Tennant, Gemma Arterton and Hugh Bonneville.
The Amazing Maurice was longlisted for Best Animation at the 2023 BAFTA Film Awards, the only European animated film to be included, has won several awards including Best Animation at Cartoons on the Bay, Italy and premiered in the USA at the Sundance Film Festival. Cantilever and Ulysses were shortlisted as CARTOON European Animation Producer of the Year 2022 as a result of the film, which has gone on to gross over $25million worldwide box office to date.