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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Serious Lunch

Programming Profile

Serious about children's programming

UK-based Serious Lunch is serving up educational content with a comedic streak, as well as high-end dramas ideal for bingeing on together as a family, all via its C21 Digital Screenings. 

If there’s one programme tailormade for a time when children need to learn about science while still having a laugh, it’s Operation Ouch! – one of numerous titles in Serious Lunch’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist that looks to educate as well as entertain.

 

The factual entertainment series, recently commissioned for a ninth season by UK children’s channel CBBC, bringing its episode count up to 100, teaches kids about the human body and returned with a Covid-19 special last month, titled Operation Ouch! Virus Alert.

 

Produced by All3Media-owned Maverick, the special sees hosts Dr Chris, Dr Xand and Dr Ronx answering some of the biggest questions kids have had about the virus, with Dr Xand calling upon his first-hand knowledge of the coronavirus after contracting it in March.

 

Dexter
Genevieve Dexter, Serious Lunch

“With so many children at home, there’s been a surge in demand for educational content and Operation Ouch! is very pertinent to the current crisis,” says Genevieve Dexter, founder and CEO of Serious Lunch.

 

The company is in the process of dubbing the series into French, under the title Opération Aïe!, while the show has also been remade in territories such as the Netherlands.

 

 

Operation Ouch!
Operation Ouch!

The series is joined on the Serious Lunch playlist by the first season of Horrible Science (10×26′), which was produced by Hat Trick for CiTV in the UK and is based on the Scholastic publishing franchise that has helped many a child see the funny side of science.

 

Art Ninja (40×26′ + 15×20′) meanwhile, is CBBC’s flagship art show and has been a godsend for parents across the UK who have been looking for something creative to occupy their kids with while under lockdown.

 

 

Horrible Science
Horrible Science

Produced by Dot To Dot Productions, the factual entertainment series sees energetic host Ricky Martin, who previously worked for Aardman Animations, teach kids how to make art from household items, as well as inform them about the art world. For example, Martin will discuss famous modern artists like Banksy, then teach the viewer how to make a stencil.

 

As well as an uptick in interest in educational programmes, lockdown has also seen demand for programming that the whole family can watch together increase. Serious Lunch has two high-end serialised dramas that fit that bill in the form of The New Legends of Monkey (20×26′) and Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter (26×26′).

 

 

Art Ninja
Art Ninja

The series are carried internationally on streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime respectively and Dexter says the process of shopping The New Legends of Monkey, an SVoD original, has been an interesting one.

 

While some broadcasters will flat-out refuse to consider taking a Netflix original, others have been more open to the idea, particularly when the series has already been dubbed into more than 20 languages.

 

Produced by See Saw Films, the firm known for titles such as Top of the Lake and The King’s Speech, the series is in its second season having been filmed in New Zealand prior to the pandemic.

 

 

The New Legends of Monkey
The New Legends of Monkey

Inspired by the classic novel Journey to the West by Wu Ch’eng-En and coproduced with Australia’s ABC and TVNZ of New Zealand, the fantasy adventure series follows a young woman’s attempts to restore peace to the world and defeat demons by reawakening the Monkey King and two other faded gods.

 

Dexter points to the programme’s US$1m per episode budget as being another reason the show is so attractive to broadcasters, with the likes of TVP in Poland and RTP in Portugal picking it up and a UK deal being “imminent.”

 

Edward Horasz, director of content acquisitions and kids originals at Netflix, says the streamer has been “thrilled” with how the first season of the show has been received, outperforming expectations in territories such as South East Asia, the US, Canada, the UK, Nordics, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy.

 

 

Ronja, the Robber's Daughter
Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter

The series cleverly plays with modern ideas of gender and power, with an eccentric streak of humour and some cracking action, making it an engrossing viewing experience for kids and parents alike.

 

Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, meanwhile, comes from the legendary Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro) and is the 11th most popular Japanese original series across all VoD platforms, according to Dexter.

 

Similarly to The New Legends of Monkey, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter features epic storytelling with an edge, adds Dexter. Based on the novel by Astrid Lindgren and directed by Goro Miyazaki, the series tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who befriends the son of her father’s rival, testing her friendship and family loyalties. Goro Miyazaki has just announced a new feature film to be released later this year, ‘Earwig and the Witch’.

 

The show was produced in Japan by NHK, NHK Enterprises and Dwango in collaboration with Studio Ghibli and The Astrid Lindgren Company, with animation created by Polygon Pictures.

 

 

The World According to Willow Wong
The World According to Willow Wong

As well as finished programming, Serious Lunch is also on board The World According to Willow Wong (10×26′), a live-action comedy recently commissioned by CBBC from Wall to Wall TV. The distributor is currently seeking pre-sales for 15% of the show’s £2.5m (US$3.2m) budget.

 

Due to air towards the end of 2021, it follows a young girl with a wild imagination that often springs to life in the form of Willow Vision, a completely unique AR filter.

 

Each week she documents the weird and wonderful antics of her family in her webcomic, which is about to ramp up as her mysterious and mischievous grandmother, Lao Lao, comes to live with them.

 

Dexter describes the series as a comedy for eight- to 12-year-olds that explores the dynamics of a British-Chinese family and cultural identity, with a politically engaged lead character – a trait that has only increased while the show has been in development.

 

 

Monty & Co
Monty & Co

“At the moment, as many people are, rather than rush into production, everybody is taking much more care over development, which in the long run is going to result in a whole raft of great content when it finally starts to flow,” says Dexter.

 

Serious Lunch has also been working with the UK pubcaster on Monty & Co (34×11′), a puppet series from Pipkins Productions that will air soon on Cbeebies. Dexter describes it as akin to the comforting viewing experience of a daily soap, but for children.

 

Performed by Nigel Plaskitt (Spitting Image), the series follows a delusional but kindhearted wallaby who lives in a blended family above a ‘bring, buy and mend’ shop.

 

 

Tik Tak
Tik Tak

The creative team behind the series also includes writer Gail Renard (Custer’s Last Stand Up) and former The Jim Henson Company and Disney puppet designer Paul Jomain (Avenue Q). The puppets have been made out of knitwear materials and plush fabrics to give the characters a soft and huggable look.

 

Another show on Serious Lunch’s slate that will give younger viewers a calming viewing experience is Tik Tak (104×5′), a mixed-media, non-dialogue series from VRT for Ketnet and NOS in Benelux.

 

It is an eclectic, universal show for toddlers that stimulates cognitive development in a relaxed, simple way by focusing on colours, shapes, objects and animals. The series has been acquired by YLE, NRK and DR in the Nordics and is soon to announce a major UK broadcast platform.

 

 

Bo & To's Family
Bo & To’s Family

Other non-dialogue series on the Serious Lunch slate include Bo & To’s Family (54×5′), a stop-motion animation from Comma Studio in South Korea that is just about to start production on its second season.
Centring on life at a café where three adopted street cats run rings around their owner and barista, the series’ multi-generational appeal is comparable to that of an Aardman classic like Wallace & Gromit, says Dexter.

 

“It’s playing extremely well across a lot of the AVoD platforms in the USA like Kidoodle.TV,” she adds, pointing to the show’s unique aesthetic, making it ideal for platforms looking to draw viewers in with shows with strong visual appeal.

 

 

Gigglebug
Gigglebug

Rounding off Serious Lunch’s slate is Gigglebug (52×5′), another series ideally suited to these strange and unprecedented times that also performs very well on AVoD because of the compelling thumbnails, but is also a ratings winner on YLE, RAI and other national broadcasters.

 

The preschool brand, which began life as an app, comes from Gigglebug Entertainment in Finland and centres on the power of infectious laughter. Following a little bug with a distinctive laugh who has a knack for turning around sticky situations and helping his friends, it’s an ethos we can all get on board with right now.