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Canada’s Mercury Filmworks And NZ’s Mukpuddy To Co-Produce 2D Animated Series Based On Spike Milligan’s 1973 Classic

Canada’s Mercury Filmworks and New Zealand’s Mukpuddy will co-produce 13 episodes of animated series Badjelly, based on the classic 1973 book, Badjelly the Witch. The irreverent modern fairy tale was authored and illustrated by British comedian, poet, playwright and actor, Spike Milligan. The news was announced today by Heath Kenny, Chief Content Officer, Mercury Filmworks, Roger Shakes, Media Tech Productions and Ryan Cooper, Alex Leighton and Tim Evans, co-founders of Mukpuddy. Badjelly is being developed in association with Te Puna Kairangi, the New Zealand Government’s Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund.

As the co-creator of The Goon Show, Spike Milligan’s comedic influence can be felt throughout much of British comedy, including being cited as a major influence on legendary comedy troupe Monty Python. He originally created the short story, Badjelly the Witch, as a fairy tale for his two young children. Packed full of weird and wonderful surprises about good triumphing over evil, Milligan hand-wrote the text and drew the illustrations himself. Badjelly the Witch was later turned into an audio play starring Milligan and a few years later retold with a full orchestra, released by Polydor Records. 

Mercury Filmworks’ co-production partner for the series and special is Mukpuddy, a multi-award-winning animation studio based in Auckland, New Zealand, who acquired the rights to the book from Milligan’s children. They are the creators of several of the country’s top-rated children’s shows, including Quimbo’s Quest and The Barefoot Bandits (voted best Kiwi show in the Spinoff’s TV awards in 2017).

“There’s no shortage of fun to be had in this madcap story full of quirky characters and matter-of-fact magic from the wild imagination of Milligan, whose work influenced generations of kids,” commented Kenny. “We are excited to be co-producing the series and especially with Mukpuddy—their work ethic, culture, and creativity, are values that connect our two studios. We look forward to working together to build on the original short story and expand the world Milligan created to bring this classic property to life.”

"Like many creative Kiwis, we were hugely inspired by Spike Milligan growing up, and Badjelly is a story we are incredibly passionate about," exclaims Cooper. "We’re honored that the Milligan family are letting us play in Spike’s fantastical world of teeny-weeny tree goblins and "horridible" witches and getting to do it alongside Mercury Filmworks is an absolute dream come true. They are a studio we have admired for a long time and feel that our collaboration is a match made in Milligan madness."

The charming fairy tale Badjelly follows the adventures of Tim and Rose as they search for Lucy, their cow, in the great black forest that lies at the edge of their sleepy village. They soon find that the forest is inhabited by weird and wonderful characters, each struggling with a dark energy that is permeating their lives, convinced that the valley has been overrun by it. They call it Badjelly! As the kids travel from place to place, they assemble a small team of friends, including Binklebonk the timid Tree Goblin and his grasshopper pet Silly Sausage; Mudwiggle, a worm that claims extraordinary strength; and the Tin Lion, a loyal but sometimes a little moany metal lion. With their friends at their side, Tim and Rose travel the valley, helping people discover the true source of their Badjelly issues and learning more about the magical world they have become part of.

About Mercury Filmworks

Mercury Filmworks is one of Canada's most prolific independent studios and is internationally recognized as a leader in the animation industry for its benchmarks in quality, reliability, and innovation. Mercury has helped bring to life many of the most memorable, modern animated television and film properties including Hilda, Mickey Mouse, Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, The Lion Guard, Wander Over Yonder, Team Hot Wheels, Jake & the Never Land Pirates, Fish Hooks, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Jimmy Two Shoes, Toot & Puddle, Ruby Gloom, Gerald McBoing Boing, Curious George: The Movie, The PowerPuff Girls Movie, and Looney Tunes: Back In Action. Mercury is proud to be associated with partners such as Disney, Netflix, Amazon, AppleTV+, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Universal, American Greetings, Entertainment One, Mattel, Technicolor, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Teletoon.

About Mukpuddy

Formed in a basement in 2002 by three young friends fresh out of animation school, Mukpuddy has grown to become New Zealand’s premiere 2D animation studio. Now a self-contained, full-service studio, Mukpuddy caters to all aspects of the 2D animation process, from scriptwriting and voice-over recording through to compositing, with in-house character designers, background artists, editors and animators.

Mukpuddy is committed to telling funny, heartfelt, original stories, and creating rich, interesting worlds for their characters to explore and grow in. From the lovably odd residents of Ngaro Island in The Barefoot Bandits to the wide world of characters Quimbo meets on his quests, to the intergalactic Adventures of Tumeke Space, Mukpuddy is known for their ability to create unique and funny shows, that appeal to an international audience.

Short-form works include the NZFC-funded short Out of Order, The Drawing Show and animated slacker comedy Jandal Burn, as well as helping bring to life New Zealand’s first 100% te reo Māori cartoon for preschool children, Pipi Mā.

With a strong sense of nostalgia for the shows and movies we loved as kids, Mukpuddy makes cartoons that are both silly and exciting, with characters we truly care about.

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