With global broadcast sales and licensing activity for its hit preschool property Paddles ramping up and production well under way on its newest preschool property Ling Ling, animation and media company FuturumKids has announced development plans for a major new property, based on the delightful children’s book Charlie’s Ark.

Charlies Ark tells the story of Charlie, a five-year-old boy, and the ark-shaped toy box in which he keeps his toy animals with their ark-inspired rainbow top-knots, manes and tails. But these are not just toys; they all come to life when Charlie whispers the magic ‘wordspell’, and together Charlie and the toys have many magical adventures.

The books, created and written by award-winning illustrator Mike Payne and illustrated by Adam Pescott and Mike Payne, have clear televisual appeal, and the response to the concept was extremely positive at MIPTV in April. Mike is the creator and original artist of the globally popular grey, blue-nosed bear ‘Tatty Teddy’, which he drew for 17 years.

The 52 x 11 animated series, which has already started production in Ireland and Las Palmas, aims to replicate the engaging style of the books, whose charm, evocative storylines and emotionally engaging illustrations have strong cross-generational appeal.

Longer-term plans will include licensing and merchandising, building on Mike Payne’s enormous success in commercial greeting card design, books, and gift concepts that have sold hundreds of millions worldwide.

Charlie’s Ark is a major addition to the fast-growing FuturumKids portfolio, which already includes Paddles and Ling Ling. Roy Smoothe, international strategic branding specialist, recently joined the Charlie’s Ark team in the role of Global Branding Licensing and Merchandising Director. Arthur Maxfield, former CEO of World of Books, is also involved as a Board Member of the Charlie’s Ark team.

FuturumKids includes members of the team behind the seven-time Emmy-award-winning children’s series Jakers! as well as senior figures from HIT Entertainment and its global franchises Bob the Builder, Barney and Thomas and Friends.

Eamon Mac Giolla Bhuí, CCO at FuturumKids, says: “With two children’s shows already broadcasting or in production we were keen to build on our success to date. However, we needed to find the right property to support our growing reputation as a producer of quality children’s entertainment. Charlie’s Ark is just that property. Both visually and as a magical piece of storytelling it’s ideal for children’s TV. We’re looking forward enormously to developing Charlie’s delightful adventures for the screen.”