By Allison Watkinson
TVNZ and Wildbrain have commissioned a new kids’ series based on Badjelly the Witch from Mukpuddy Animation, Sphere Animation and Cantilever Media.
TVNZ is New Zealand’s state-owned, commercially funded broadcasting network and Wildbrain is a global production, distribution and licensing company. WildBrain will be responsible for global distribution outside of New Zealand and Australia.
Based on a kids’ book by Irish comedian Spike Milligan, the Badjelly animated series intends to deliver a new take on the 1973 Badjelly the Witch fantasy novel.
Badjelly the Witch follows two siblings named Rose and Tim who go searching for their lost cow in an enchanted forest and are captured by a wicked witch.
The Badjelly series marks the first kids’ animation treaty co-production between New Zealand, Canada and UK-based production studios. Work on the Badjelly series officially began earlier this year.
Sphere Animation is a Canadian 2D digital animation studio that is led by experienced artists and a state-of-the-art production infrastructure. Sphere Animation’s parent company, Sphere Media provides creation, production and distribution services for licensed and proprietary childrens’ brands.
“This project represents such fresh creative collaboration that our team leaped at the opportunity to join the party,” said Sphere Media president, Marlo Miazga. “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.”
Founded in 2002, Mukpuddy is a full-service, independent 2D animation studio that is based in New Zealand.
Mukpuddy offers services in areas such as compositing, scriptwriting, voice-over recording, character design, editing, animation, and more.
“Badjelly the Witch is wildly popular in New Zealand,” said Mukpuddy 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.”
Cantilever Media is a UK-based film and TV production studio that develops, finances and produces both live-action and animated family entertainment.
“It’s a complete honour to be the UK producers on Badjelly,” says Cantilever Media producer, Carys Rowan. “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 new series is being produced with the permission of Spike Milligan Productions and the family of Spike Milligan.
The Badjelly animated series is scheduled to debut on New Zealand’s TVNZ broadcasting network, WildBrain’s Family Channel in Canada, and the ABC Australia network in 2025.
The development of the Badjelly TV series was made possible with the support of the New Zealand Government’s Premium Development Fund, NZ On Air, NZSPR, Ontario and Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credits, the British Film Institute’s UK Global Screen Fund and the UK Animation Tax Credit.