Sunday, September 26, 2010

Irish TV developing a children's cartoon show featuring main character with Down syndrome

From The Herald in Ireland:

A new Irish-made cartoon series has become the first television series in the world to have a main character with Down Syndrome -- and it is set to take the world by storm.

The new RTE series Punky, which will be aimed at pre-school children, features a six-year-old girl who lives with her family, and encounters daily adventures like any other child.

Gerard O'Rourke, from production company Monster Animation, says Punky is a playful little girl who overcomes many daily challenges, but she is slightly differently to other children.

Already international TV companies from the United States, UK, and Australia are showing keen interest.

Punky will be broadcast by RTE's Young People's Programming in the New Year, and it will feature 20 seven-minute-long episodes.

"It's the first [series] where the main character has Down Syndrome, from all of our research to date," said Mr O'Rourke.

"It was unique and scary to deal with the subject matter on a mainstream cartoon. Down Syndrome Ireland provided a great bedrock and they were completely behind the idea of us doing the show."

He added: "We wanted it to be shown among mainstream cartoons. It's not like a special show being shown at a special time. It'll be shown in amongst Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig."

Punky is a determined little girl who sets about helping her mother, and dealing with challenges that her family encounters.

"She's with her mam who goes to the chemist one day because she's not feeling well. And the pharmacist tells her you need to go home and have some peace and quiet.

"So Punky sets about soundproofing the house to make it quiet, and she stops sounds like her Gran boiling the kettle or her brother's iPod," said Gerard.

Monster Animation is currently starting the fifth of 20 episodes at their studios.