Astley Baker Davies is on something of a roll at the moment. To start with, Peppa Pig is currently one of the most watched pre-school shows on television and looks likely to stay that way for some time.
The firm’s new offering – Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – kicked off on Nick Jr on April 6th, and the early signs are encouraging that it could be as big as Peppa.
At the heart of the show is a simple premise, and one which ABD is confident will resonate with viewers.
The Little Kingdom is home to Princess Holly and her best friend Ben Elf. Holly is a young fairy who is still learning how to do magic properly. Sometimes her spells don’t work out quite right. Ben is an Elf. Elves don’t do magic but they are very good at making things, especially toys.
“We started working on Little Kingdom after we finished the first series of Peppa Pig in January 2005,” producer Phil Davies explains to Licensing.biz. “We wanted to make sure there were plenty of opportunities for stories and we don’t have to explain the characters; it’s all self explanatory.”
Just as in each episode of Peppa Pig, family values are a strong theme in Little Kingdom. It also appeals to both boys and girls: “We never really bought into the idea of separate girls and boys properties; in Little Kingdom we give equal weight to both sexes,” Davies says.
With two shows at 7.30am and two shows at 4.30pm, airing seven days a week on Nick Jr in the UK, Little Kingdom is steadily building up a fan base. It has already been sold to 150 territories and the first licensed products will hit retail in March 2010. Nine licensees have signed up so far covering toys, apparel, games and puzzles, publishing, magazines, houseware, bedding and DVDs. Next categories to be targeted will be tableware, stationery, creative play, posters and outdoor play, says Andrew Carley, head of licensing and merchandising at E1 Entertainment.
The approach Carley and his team will be taking to Little Kingdom will be similar to Peppa Pig; slow and steady. “Our philosophy is to build properties over the long-term,” he tells Licensing.biz. “It engenders a sense of value at every level, which is borne out in all aspects of the show.”
And he believes the potential is certainly there for Little Kingdom to enjoy the same kind of success as Peppa Pig: “The show has all the hallmarks of Peppa and more besides. However, we are very aware that success stories on the scale of Peppa are a rare thing, particularly in the pre-school sector. Whilst all involved hope to be part of a success story akin to Peppa, it is essential we manage expectations, particularly at this early stage of the programme.”
By the end of 2010, E1 is aiming for Little Kingdom to have developed a loyal and growing fan base, which is keen to extend its experience through consumer products. Carley continues: “In terms of consumer products, we see Christmas 2010 as the end of the first stage. Retailers who came on board early will be offering ranges in greater depth and the retail base will be broadening. If Little Kingdom follows Peppa, in five years time it should be where Peppa is now. Watch this space…”