SPOTLIGHT: British Academy Children's Awards

On Sunday November 25th, the cream of the children's film and TV world will gather at the London Hilton on Park Lane for the British Academy Children's Awards...
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Presented this year by Keith Chegwin – and in association with video games giant Electronic Arts – the awards’ aim is to recognise and reward excellence in all forms of the moving image for children; be that film, television, online or video games.

This year’s nominations certainly reflect the sheer wealth of talent that currently exists within the industry. As well as the high profile franchises – such as Harry Potter (which is up for three gongs with The Order of the Phoenix), Shaun the Sheep, Spongebob Squarepants, Pirates of Caribbean and In The Night Garden amongst others – the awards also give the people behind the entertainment the chance to shine, along with factual and short form animations which may not immediately catch a mainstream audience’s eye.

While the annual awards are voted for by BAFTA members (film and programme makers and games developers), the Academy also gives children the chance to get involved. The BAFTA Kids’ Vote in association with Electronic Arts enables children to vote for their favourite film. The final ten films are selected from the top box office family-oriented pictures of the year, and in 2006 nearly 100,000 children voted on the CBBC, CITV and Nickelodeon websites.

This year’s nominees are Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Happy Feet, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (The Goblet of Fire picked up the accolade last year), Mr Bean’s Holiday, Night at the Museum, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Shrek The Third, The Simpsons Movie, Spider-Man 3 and Transformers.

One of the highest numbers of nominations goes to Nickelodeon UK. It has two nominations for Channel of the Year (for Nickelodeon and Nick Jr), three nominations for its anti-bullying season See Something, Say Something in Best Learning Primary, Nick News in Best Factual and Best Breakthrough Talent for producer Jane Laffey.

Nick Jr cookery commission Bubble and Squeak has a Best Pre-School Live Action nomination, while Peppa Pig is in the Best Pre-School Animation category. Spongebob Squarepants and Lazy Town are both in the Best International category, while factual entertainment specials Our Friend Earth, Little Green Fingers and Nick’s Big Green Thing collect three nominations for Best Short.

“In 2006 Nickelodeon UK achieved nine nominations and we’re thrilled with [this year’s] 12,” says Howard Litton, MD of Nickelodeon UK. “It’s a fantastic honour, which showcases some of the very best of our UK and international production. This is great news for Nickelodeon UK and a real testament to our superb in-house team and associated production companies.”

The BBC and its independent partners have also done well. Tiger Aspect’s Charlie & Lola and Collingwood O’Hare’s The Secret Show have been earmarked for the Animation category, while Cbeebies and CBBC have racked up several nominations between them for the likes of Raven, The Slammer and Jackanory, while Cbeebies is also up for Channel of the Year and Interactive accolades.

“We are thrilled to receive our first Interactive Children’s BAFTA nomination for the fantastic Secret Show website developed by BBC Worldwide, Collingwood O’Hare and Complete Control,” comments Gill Pritchard, director of children’s at the BBC. “We would also like to congratulate our independent partners, Tiger Aspect, Ragdoll and Collingwood O’Hare and our colleagues at Cbeebies and CBBC on their nominations.

“These nominations are so well deserved and reflect the enormous wealth of talent that exists in our industry.”

Jetix is also delighted with the recognition. “Our nominated programmes highlight the quality and variety of live action, animation and comedy shows delivered by Jetix,” offers Boel Ferguson, MD of Jetix UK and Nordic.

Aardman is equally pleased with the Academy's response to Shaun the Sheep and Flushed Away. Miles Bullough, head of broadcast at Aardman, said: "It's great for the morale of the production teams and the company to know that their hard work and commitment to quality is recognised by BAFTA.

"We still feel that we are at the start of our journey into kids television, so it's great to get such a boost at this stage of our development."

In addition to the usual awards, this year BAFTA has partnered with CBBC to launch a new children’s film making initiative which inspires and enables children to make their own films and tell their own stories. CBBC Me and My Movie, in association with BAFTA, was launched on Blue Peter back in April – and there are four final nominations.

For the full list of nominations for the British Academy Children’s Awards 2007 log on to www.bafta.org.

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