Thursday 15 January 2009


Have you heard about One Minute Wonders yet?

Your answer to this will depend on whether you have any one in your household who is either young enough to be a CBBC (Children's BBC) fan or anyone who's old enough to be sadly geeky about kids TV involving animation.

Basically, OMW is a 13-part, 30-minute TV series delivering a succession of minute-long stories that are mostly about things that happen during exactly that time period: such as the fact that a New Zealand chocolate factory produces 700 chocy bars a minute, while the Royal Mint turns out 2,852 new coins, trees in the tropical rain forests lose up to 184 ml of water from their leaves and the Earth gains 168 tonnes in weight.

Essentially OMW offers a painless way to pick up fun facts in a energetic format that is likely tocatch the imagination of youngsters for whom the web, YouTube and multi-faceted TV screens are part of daily life.

The TV screen becomes a tech-lab/theatre space overseen by Blink, the all-seeing eye of the narrator (a multi-voiced voice-over performance by actor David Schneider) and his robotic companion Missit. While the 60-second mini-features are showing on an insert screen combining archive live action footage and animation all kinds of other surprising (often downright crazy) things - such as alien spaceships beaming up cows - are going on in and around the margins. Every minute a new story unfolds and .

The series animation is the work of Karrot Entertainment, a new studio set up by talented animator, Jamie Badminton, who's collaborated with a group of artists dedicated to create lively, engaging animation in a wide diversity of styles that compliments the live action 'Wonders' and challenges the current preconceptions of TV animation.

Jamie Badminton has been quoted as saying, “I’m thrilled that we were able to fill the show with individual artistic voices and provide One Minute Wonders with an atmosphere that instantly makes learning more effective through laughter and surprises.”

To be honest, I don't know whether "kids today" (that's Old Fart's talk for Yoof) give a damn about Finding Thing Out as they did in the Look-and-Learn/Children's Encyclopedia/I-Spy Books culture of my tender years, but what I enjoyed - and what I hope some young viewers will enjoy (even if they don't identify it as such) is the disparate nature of the topics, the liveliness of the presentation and quirky unexpectedness of the animation.

If it didn't make me sound quite so old and geeky, I'd say it reminded of the kind thing, when I was young, I used to like about shows like How and Vision On...

Anyway, it's clearly a series worth keeping an eye on...

But Blink and you'll Missit...

See the most recent epsiode on the BBC iPlayer and for more about One Minute Wonders, visit OMW website.


Andy Latham said...

The animation on that show reminds me of something I have seen before but I can't for the life of me think what - something produced in the 70s or 80s perhaps.

Anyway, it's nice to see something a bit different for kids. I think kids will always have an interest in learning things, provided they are given the right stimuli.

A guy I know has a blog on which he writes about the state of the kids' TV animation industry, which you should check out if you haven't already.

Bitter Animator said...

Ah! It was Andy who directed you to my humble blog. Thanks, Andy, and thanks to you, Mr. Sibley, for popping in. I'm actually rather honoured.

I would agree with you on OMW - I think it's great. And I certainly think there is room out there for more shows about finding things out. One of the things with children (well, certainly boys) is that they love to have snippets of knowledge that they think nobody else knows. It's a thrill.

And it's a great way of helping them learn. OMW really works on that level. After seeing it, a child will likely delight in giving their parents a smug grin and aksing "Did you know...?"

Anyone remember The Whizzkid's Handbook? A fantastic book for children illustrated by Peter Eldin with enough crazy facts and tricks to make any child feel like a genius.

Anyway, thanks to Andy for the link. I'm looking forward to browsing your archives to see what you think of 'My Friends Tigger and Pooh', that CG wonder on Playhouse Disney.

Brian Sibley said...

You're absolutely right, BA, about boys loving to be the possessors of little-known factoids!

Not only do I remember The Whizzkid's Handbook but I know Peter Eldin who is a fellow member of The Magic Circle! I'll tell him he has a fan...

Would you believe, I've avoided MFT&P? Am I really going to have to go to YouTube to look at them..........? Tell me "No"!

Bitter Animator said...

If you've made it this far without Tigger & Pooh, just put it out of your mind and don't seek it out. As a show, well, I've seen worse. It's not horrific by any means. But it's just about one of the most bland shows I've seen.

And, somehow, they have removed any appeal that Pooh had. He comes across as a doddering old man with little to no character. I thought it was just me until I saw one of the old Disney specials over Christmas and saw a playful, childlike Pooh with a personality.

It seems personality is out these days.

In a couple of years time, people will have forgotten the show ever existed so you may as well skip it.

Yes, do tell Mr. Eldin he has a fan. His work was always a massive part of my book collection.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I loved the Whizzkid's Handbook, and the Trickster's and Explorer's... I collected a bunch of them and the illustrations really brought them to life for me - really well packaged and well wriiten life-essential information!

I'm thilled to hear some positive feeback for OMW, by the way - really glad you're enjoying it! Thanks again for the shout-out, Brian!