Kid’s TV “our greatest cultural export”

Often overshadowed by Adult TV, our Children's TV is amongst the best in the world, says one prolific producer.

2014-03-03_2039Australia gets an A+ when it comes to producing Children’s Television, having produced some of the world’s finest across the years.

According to producer Noel Price, head of Children’s Television at Endemol Australia, most of us don’t know just how acclaimed our content has become, frequently overshadowed by our fondness for adult drama.

“Australia’s biggest cultural export is actually Children’s Television. It’s huge and it has been for decades. The audiences around the world are massive. They swamp anything that adult drama and feature film combined can put together,” he says.

“The good thing about Australia is that we’ve had such a variety of producers who have consistently been in the game now and who, as a cross-section, have been enormously successful.

“For a country with 20 million people, when you look at the reach our shows have around the world it’s just way beyond any other country. Our Live action shows.

“It’s fair to say we are one of the major players in providing children’s drama. It’s an untold story but it’s a big story. The influence we wield internationally is beyond what anybody really understands.”

Price is currently filming Season Two of In Your Dreams, a 26 part teen comedy / drama series produced in conjunction with the Seven Network and with NDR and TVPlus in Germany.

26 episodes are being filmed with 10 weeks in Australia and three months in Germany. Price has a long history of producing content for Australian and German markets with Blue Water High, and stemming all the way back to 1992’s Mission Top Secret with Grundys.

“The premise is 2 Australian non-identical twins spend their summer in Germany with a couple of eccentric aristocratic relatives who live in a castle in the German countryside. They get involved with encountering another culture and another way of life and a whole set of problems that each episode looks at,” he says.

“It’s a comedy / drama, and this the sixth or seventh show we’ve done with the Germans.

“The caricature of Germans is that they’re a humourless bunch but having been there for a lot of times, like everybody else they do have senses of humour.

“So I wanted to have a crack at a German comedy drama that would work for the international market.”

His other credits include A Gurl’s World, The Sleepover Club, Raggs, Foreign Exchange, Snobs, Tracy McBean, Outriders, Spellbinder and The Girl From Tomorrow.

“Originally I was in charge of Drama at the ABC in Melbourne in the ’80s and then I embarked on a freelance career until ’99 when I joined Southern Star. But the last 25 has been kid’s drama and the reason for that is that kid’s drama is international an I’ve always enjoyed working internationally. I’ve worked in about 12 different countries and the funding is international, the audience is international, and we have huge audiences for our shows.”

In Your Dreams stars Australian actors Tessa de Josselin and David Delmenico alongside Germany’s Jörn Knebel and Soma Alusia Pysall. With the potential audience of Price’s shows sold into other territories, the cast could go on to greater glory.

“You may well hear of them in the future. A lot of kids we work with go on and become names later on,” he explains.

A Gurl’s World for example might have only got 100,000 or so in Australia but globally it’s 30 or 40 million.”

According to Price, there are a number of reasons why Australia has had such a prolific, high-quality output.

“It’s due to the fact that we have the quota, we have subsidy mechanisms here, we have standards through ACMA that have to be achieved and we are also lucky enough to live in a country where childhood is able to be lived,” he says.

“In a lot of other countries, poverty or industrialisation curtail childhood reasonably severely, making them grow up early than perhaps they should.”

In Your Dreams 2 is expected to air on Seven next year.

9 Responses

  1. I agree.Degrassi could give the kids of today a good run for their moneys worth against any Home Grown Soap.In all it’s variations if you don’t include New Generation It has been around 35 years.It’s sad the youth of today have to grow up on things like Geordie Shore type offerings which are nothing more than a Reality TV version of a School Leavers Week or a Spring Break.Of Course there’s 10’s Puberty Blues but will that be there in fifteen years time remains to be seen.

  2. Is Parallax still being repeated? That was a fun sci-fi kids’ show. Another from WA was ‘Time Trackers’ although I think it was an NZ co-production. Both were much more imaginative and original than most adult dramas.

  3. I haven’t watched recently but I remember how excellent the children television shows were. It doesn’t surprise me that they are still making excellent shows. I found them much more imaginative than adult. For example Spellbinder, The Girl From Tomorrow, and Mirror, Mirror. Although I used to like older fare like Skippy. Plus overseas stuff. I hope they continue to get support and the government doesn’t stuff it up as per usual.

  4. I remember as a kid me and my siblings made sure we didn’t miss a single episode of Blue Water High, which in my opinion was easily one of the best kids series at the time. I have to agree that our kids programming is definitely better than adult drama content.

  5. There are also a lot of series (old and new) not mentioned that were great too…Mirror Mirror, Ocean Girl, Genie from DownUnder, Trapped, Castaway, Secret Valley, Heartbreak High, Ship to Shore, The Saddle Club and Dance Academy to name a few.

    @Kirben as the father of daughters….H20 just add water ran for 5 years, and was picked up again for a 26 ep season (2013) with another season coming in 2015. Degrassi is Canada’s Home and Away.

    Australia makes awesome kids TV!

  6. Article states it’s Live Action we’re talking about here. The hit rate for Australia is very good internationally. Of course there is Degrassi overseas, but it’s easy to forget other countries produce other content that gets readily forgotten.

  7. @Kirben
    You’d have to agree that we are punching above our weight though. The BBC may be more prolific but we need to remember that Britain also has triple our population.

  8. In terms of live drama we are average, the BBC managed to offer more variety of settings and series in the past. And we lack any long running series, like Degrassi: The Next Generation in Canada.

    In terms of cartoon series, we couldn’t get any worse. Cartoon series are dumbed down for young children, generic or just too silly and stupid in general. It is rare we get any decent series (i.e. Classic Tales, Legend of Enyo).

    We went form producing good series like The Adventures of Sam and The Silver Brumby in the past, to producing rubbish like Dogstar and Shezow now.

    The local quotes are the problem, it is always quantity over quality for cartoon series.

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