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London - A couple who created their own children’s programmes because they were so appalled by “nonsense” such as the Teletubbies have become an internet hit.
Jezz Wright, 44, and Julianne Martin, 35, were regularly having to switch off the television because they believed the shows on offer were “numbing” their two young children’s brains.
The married couple believed popular programmes such as Power Rangers and In The Night Garden were just “virtual e-numbers” that made children hyperactive – so they decided to make their own.
They created a series of animated films based on characters called Jack And Holly, best friends who learn something of educational value through their adventures.
The stories are designed for pre-school children and can be downloaded via the internet.
The 15-minute episodes can be viewed only once they are started by parents, meaning that children cannot just sit watching programme after programme as they could with television. Mr Wright and Miss Martin believe this gets youngsters to interact with their parents and discuss the show.
The couple are now receiving more than 500,000 monthly hits worldwide on the animated tales, with interest particularly keen in the US, and experts reckon the venture could now become a multi-million-pound business with the right investment.
Mr Wright, a freelance media lecturer who lives in Norwich with his wife and their two children Cillian, eight, and Beth, five, said: “We’re delighted with the success we have had. That was never the aim, so it has been a terrific bonus. We were just fed up with all the unnecessary nonsense children’s heads are filled with. We wanted to make something we felt happy about our son and daughter sitting down to watch.
“When we were young, there would be a short spell after school when you could watch children’s TV. Now there are entire channels dedicated to it.
“The massive problem with TV for pre-schoolers in the UK is that you are either sending them to la-la land with the Teletubbies, or making them hyper watching programmes like the Power Rangers.
“TV effectively becomes virtual e-numbers for children with nothing remotely stimulating for them.”
Housewife Miss Martin added: “Jack And Holly isn’t filling children’s heads with rubbish but it still captures the imagination enough for them to be entertained.
“It harks back to old-school, traditional values in terms of children’s TV, fulfilling genuine educational material. At least that’s what we’ve aimed for.”
The creative couple were first inspired to make the films when their son Cillian was four and began asking questions about Christmas.
They started looking for programmes to help explain but found nothing suitable.
Instead they designed Jack And Holly’s Christmas Countdown, a 70-minute animated film about the friends discovering the true meaning of Christmas. It proved so popular with their children and friends’ children that they decided to continue.
Mr Wright produces and writes each episode, Cillian performs the voice of Jack and Miss Martin performs the voice of Holly. Family friend Graham Jones draws the animations, which have been expanded to a whole series of stories. Last month, Mr Wright and Miss Martin launched their own online channel, allowing anyone with a Roku TV Box or a smart TV to stream their programmes via the internet, like BBC iPlayer.
The programmes can currently be downloaded for free but the couple also sell DVDs via their website, www.jackandholly.com. - Daily Mail