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CBBC greenlights latest toon revival

Following in the footsteps of Bill & Ben, Andy Pandy and Fireman Sam, classic animated characters Postman Pat and Jess the cat are the latest children's toons to make a comeback after 20 years.

UK kids broadcaster CBBC has greenlit 30 new episodes of the show, after a deal with Entertainment Rights. The company picked up rights to the show after acquiring its original producer, Woodland Animations, in a £5.1m deal in November 2001.

To be animated by Manchester studio Cosgrove Hall, the new 26×15' and 4×30' episodes will feature new characters like Indian station master Mr Bain and will reflect the modernisation of Greendale's amenities. However, original storywriter John Cunliffe is back on board to ensure the new series does not stray too far from the original.

The new series will go into production in March 2003, with the first straight-to-video special released in autumn 2003. The series will be delivered in 2004. The company is also planning a new spin-off series featuring the black and white cat Jess. The series will focus on the life of the cat with his wife and kittens.

Postman Pat first appeared on the BBC in 1981, and has aired in over 60 countries.

Meanwhile, Entertainment Right's Welsh animation outfit Siriol is producing a new series of the 1980s kids toon Fireman Sam for Hit Entertainment, with the show destined for the BBC and Welsh network S4C.

A series of 26×10' episodes are in production along with additional Christmas-themed episodes. The series is due to broadcast in 2004 on CBBC and S4C.

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