While I have been busy working away on a new show (more on that soon), Monster Animation has not been quiet. Far from it. The crew at Monster have been producing a brand new, and rather important show called Punky.
Punky is a preschool show about a little girl who loves to dance, loves music, hugs and, of course, her family – Mum, her brother Con, and her rather cranky Grandmother, appropriately yet lovingly called Cranky. Punky also happens to have Down syndrome.
As far as I know, that makes it the first broadcast television show in which the title character has Down syndrome. Punky, however, is not a show about issues. Having Down syndrome is simply one of many, many elements that contributes to who Punky is: a fun-loving little girl.
Created by Lindsay J. Sedgwick, the show is beautifully written by Andrew Brenner, creator and writer of the preschool hit, Humf. Now, anyone who knows Humf will know instantly why Andrew was perfect for Punky. With Humf, Andrew managed to perfectly capture a child’s perspective, giving children lovely stories in the way they see life. But, more than that, Humf has a wonderful honesty about real life. Andrew has brought the charm and the honesty to Punky. And, with that, plenty of humour.
And with the perfect voice (Aimee Richardson) Punky comes to life as a very real little girl.
I am not directing Punky. In fact, it will be the first Monster television show not directed by me, demonstrating that I am not half as indispensable as I thought I was (dreams of Godhood shattered) but also demonstrating the talent we’ve built in Monster over the years. The series is being directed by Simon Crane, a good friend, long-time colleague and very talented animator/artist/director. He took the beginnings and designs (by Ciara McClean) and is very much making the show his own.
Of course, having been the creative director in Monster for as long as the company has been in television shows (and longer), I have been helping out where I can, working with Andrew on the stories (must be said that that really just amounted to me reading his stories and writing him a mail telling him how much I liked them), offering advice on animatics and the various aspects of production, working with Jonathan Atkinson on the music (again, listening and writing nice emails) and generally keeping an eye on things.
Seeing as I’m listing off the credits, I feel one of the largest credits of all has to go to my long-time (well, always) producer, Gerard O’Rourke. Gerard championed the show. He saw the potential. And, I’ll be honest, the show was a tough prospect at the start but Gerard believed in it every step of the way.
And he was right to.
It has been lovely watching a show form around me. Letting the visions of other people shape it and watching what I would have done differently. Or what I would have done exactly the same.
And letting it happen like that has given me the time to work on something completely new. Something I’ll introduce here soon.
Punky goes on air in Ireland on the 3rd of May on RTEJr. Doubtless, other countries will follow after that. Look out for it.