The Adventures of Abney & Teal

Thursday 22 September 2011, 18:48

Joel Creator and Director of The Adventures of Abney & Teal Joel Creator and Director of The Adventures of Abney & Teal

Abney and Teal jumping on their island

Hi, I'm Joel Stewart, Creator and Director of The Adventures of Abney & Teal. I designed the characters, and painted all the bits and pieces that their world is made up of. I work with the team on all the stories, and I oversee the finished look of the show, I also helped develop a lot of the music, and have my nose poking in just about everywhere!

I am primarily a book illustrator, who also writes (and plays a bit of music). I have always been interested in film and animation too, so when Anne Wood, founder and Creative Director of Ragdoll Productions, approached me about the possibility of developing something entirely new with them for television I jumped at the chance!

The series is about Abney and Teal who live on an island in the middle of a lake, in the middle of a park, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the big city. They share the island with an array of odd characters, and the most everyday activities seem to get them all into a host of trouble!

All the characters were invented in my sketchbooks, but it wasn't until I was out for a walk in Victoria Park in East London that I found myself casting them on an Island in a park in a city. I was just staring out at the island across the water and began to imagine the characters from my sketchbook going about their business in that setting. I heard the sounds of the city all around and realised that this was a whole world in itself, and went home to think about the best way I could make that world come to life.

For television I have been most excited by the possibilities for exploring things I hadn't been able to in books. For me a good drawing has a sense of movement in its lines and works perfectly on the page, but here I was interested more in the possibilities of combining puppets, painting, and techniques with a filmic quality. I knew that bringing all these things together would require a fantastic production team. But even now after nearly three years working on the show I'm still astonished by what we've achieved by using all these traditional, and not-so traditional methods!

I always had strong ideas about what the show should look and feel like (and we've surpassed most of those), but equally exciting has been writing with the brilliant Matilda Tristram and Steve Roberts (who is the creator of the fantastic Dipdap series), and also with Anne and the editing team. Together we've made some stories which I am just over the moon about, and I hope you will be too!

Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    Can't wait!

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 3.

    You've created a gem! My four year old daughter has really enjoyed watching the first two episodes, and so have I! The style of the show reminds me of childrens tv programmes of yesteryear, especially Bagpuss. Congratulations!

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    Comment number 4.

    It's a beautifully crafted piece of work and, I feel, would do better in the 'Bedtime Hour' as a gentle, winding-down programme for my two children.

    I have to say that there's a more than slight nod toward Oliver Postgate with the acoustic, folky instrumentation and the stop-start animation - both just add to its charm.

    Talking of which - why is there no Postgate on CBeebies regardless of its age!

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    Comment number 5.

    what a beautifully made program, my 2 love this. The stories are great and they are captivated by the animation.
    Expect nothing else from Ragdoll, well done all

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    Comment number 6.

    A fantastic programme in the best traditions of surreal British children's television. In danger of overtaking In The Night Garden in our house as favourite CBeebies show.

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    Comment number 7.

    Is Abney & Teal aimed at the same age-group as In The Night Garden? My 19 month old adores ITNG and we love it too, it constitutes a large part of her bedtime routine - but she finds the new programme quite disturbing! In the porridge episode, we haven't got past the bit where they all fall into the lake with the bubbles and the strange big creature which comes out of the water; both times it's been on she has burst into tears and said "off! off!".

    Maybe it is a bit unsettling for very little ones? Its style is very different from the gentle, calming surreality of ITNG. Not a hit in our house anyway...

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    Comment number 8.

    My children and I adore Abney and Teal! It is enchanted, my children love all the characters. It is a really lovely programme full of magic, fun and adventure. Absolutely love it!

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    Comment number 9.

    Good to meet you in Dalston yesterday evening. Turns out my son is ahead of me, as usual, and already an Abney and Teal fan!

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    Comment number 10.

    Just wanted to say what an absolute gem of a programme you have given us. Our little 10mth old girl is getting very taken with Abney and Teal, and I love sitting down with her before bed time watching it. I love the fact that there is a nod towards Postgate but that you have added your own touch. The music is wonderful too, a delightful mix of folk music. A rare and perfect programme that children and adults can watch and get joy out of! Thank you!

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    Comment number 11.

    Can't tell you how much my 3 year old son and I enjoy this programme. He snuggles in and we turn lights off and settle down to watch. He laughs out loud every night and I love the colours and the music. It's such a gentle watch just before bedtime!! Love it love it!! Our new catchphrase is 'wasn't that an adventure' xx

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    Comment number 12.

    I would like to say what a beautiful show you have created. My daughter absolutely loves it, and so do we. It reminds us of when we were growing up. We look forward to this being on air for many years to come - Thank you.

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    Comment number 13.

    I have just registered for the sole purpose of applauding you for this enchanting programme! I watch it as avidly as my 2 (going on 5!) year old. It feels like an old classic already! Well done and please, please, keep up the good work. Many thanks and Merry Christmas!

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    Comment number 14.

    My son absolutely loves Abney and Teal and so do I. Hopefully there will be toys soon? I'd love to get my son a cuddly neep toy! The only tiny thing wrong with the series is that Teal hardly ever says 'thank you' when Abney hands her a bowl of porridge! Excellent programme though!

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    Comment number 15.

    We love this programme!!! A firm favourite in the bedtime routine of our little boy, to the extent of having to switch to bbc i-player for more episodes when the scheduled one has finished, as nothing else will quite do it!! Many more epsiodes to come please, please, please!!

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    Comment number 16.

    Just wanted to say that my son and I love Abney and Teal. It looks beautiful, reminds me of the programmes I watched as a child...and keeps my son captivated.

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    Comment number 17.

    Abney and Teal is an utterly delicious, wonderfully made programme that completely captivates my 14 month old and I have every hope that it will for years to come....
    When is the merchandise coming forth?

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    Comment number 18.

    Fab program - well done. I have a 4 year old who spends a good deal of time pretending to be Meep with a bouncy hopper! BTW I am a Pock Pock! Makes me really nostalgic. Congratulations on creating a program that we both look forward to watching together after a long day :)

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    Comment number 19.

    What a wonderful program! Mummy, Daddy and our 2 year old just love it! Its so soothing and enchanting and I espeically love the colours and animation, so beautiful! Makes a lovely change from over-computer generated things for children these days full of bright bold colours. I think it would be better suited in the bedtime hour due to its ability to calm our son down, very much like a good bedtime story! Another suggestion is to repeat the bedtime hour from 7-8 maybe with different shows for those children that go to bed later? Just a thought.
    Abney and Teal are great! Cant wait for for DVDs and toys/plushies to come out later in the year!!

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    Comment number 20.

    It took a little bit of time to appreciate just how good Abney and Teal is. At first it seemed a bit dull and subdued compared to other programmes. But there are a few hooks into it such as Neep, the music and the physical comedy that get young and old watching enough of this to want more. It grew on me and my 21 mth old daughter at the same time in a way that few other shows have. I think it is the only cbeebies programme I have actually laughed at (the hole in the tree made by the fat Neep).

    The visuals of this are incredible. Having the city out of focus but alive in the background works so well. Many other technical aspects of the show are spot on. I only ever notice the technical aspects of shows when I'm picking holes in it (like seeing in which scale the shooting is done on ITNG) but with this show I'm doing it in a "wow, what just happened there" kind of way.

    Usually I prefer brighter and primary based colours but the pastels are the best fit for this show, how on earth did you manage to make a part-submerged and abandoned shopping trolley look beautiful?

    The visuals and the music work very harmoniously together and "harmonious" is probably the single word I'd use to describe this show. It has grabs the attention and feeds the imagination in a very subtle way. Most shows can only accomplish this with noise, speed or intensity of colour and action.

    When I look back at many of the TV shows of my childhood I get saddened by how empty they now seem, I'm sure in the years to come my daughter will see this show again and it will have lost nothing of its charm.

    Thanks for producing such a high quality programme, please make many more.

 

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