Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
5pm, Wednesday. Conference call time for Mama Mirabelle!
In a unique three way co-production, Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies' production partners have bases on both sides of the Atlantic and a truly international team of creators.
All the animation is produced in Honiton, Devon where King Rollo Films lovingly create Mama's African Savannah with a team comprising some of the world's foremost animators from Britain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland and Denmark.
While they're busy crafting the animated characters and their world, researchers in Bristol at the BBC's Natural History Unit and National Geographic's American archives in Washington pull together the special films which feature in Mama Mirabelle's movies of live action animals from around the globe.
Once the films are sketched and scripted, voices are added by actors in London and LA with a separate cast for each country. In the US, Mama Mirabelle is voiced by Ugly Betty star Vanessa Williams, while UK viewers will hear the vibrant tones of the doyen of children's TV, Floella Benjamin.
The show is finally pulled together in a weekly five-way transatlantic conference call between London, Devon, Washington, LA and New York.
Mama Mirabelle is a sassy, soulful elephant living in the African Savannah. She cares for and plays with her son Max and his friends including Bo the cheetah, Karla the zebra and monkeys Kip, Flip and Chip.
Mama Mirabelle has travelled the globe filming all the animals she's encountered and, with a loud trumpet, she calls them from every corner of the planet to the Savannah for her Movie Time.
The themes throughout the series are the universal themes of childhood and children's discovery about their worlds. These themes include play, food, animal homes, sleep, celebrating difference and what makes each person (and animal!) a special individual.
Mama has gone where no elephant has gone before. She's a world traveller and has brought back home movies to prove it.
The kids throw questions at Mama and she can handle every one. Whatever they want to know – whether it's why they need to sleep at night or why they can't go to the watering hole themselves – Mama will help them find the answers to their questions using footage from the amazing collection of wildlife movies she has gathered along her travels.
Mama Mirabelle – Larger than life, Mama Mirabelle is gregarious and kind-hearted as she opens up her home, the Savannah, to her young friends. Warm, nurturing and with a great sense of humour but endlessly patient with every question posed by the kids.
Bo – A cheetah cub and a born comedian. He likes to shout out funny remarks about the on-screen characters, give voice to their thoughts and comment on the ironies. He's high energy, high volume and high-maintenance - much like your normal five-year-old.
Karla – A zebra foal who is more thoughtful than Bo. She's an explorer with an open, inquisitive mind, and always has lots of questions, the most common being "Why?" She's forever questioning the rules of nature, the universe and animal behaviour.
Max – Mama's son, Max is a toddler teetering on the verge of childhood, but with one eye always on his Mama. A little younger than Bo and Karla, Max has all the enthusiasm and wonder of a little child. "Wow!" is his favourite interjection whenever something Mama shows him seems awe-inspiring.
Some stories from the Savannah
Tails – Max has a case of tail envy. Karla's tail is long black and flowy. Bo's is like some sort of snake charmer's serpent – it floats, swishes and does his bidding.
Max's doesn't seem to do anything – it's grey and just hangs there. Mama knows just how to cheer him up with a movie which shows how lots of animals use their tails and why each one of them is special ... even Max's.
Home – A pair of lost bird twins are discovered by Max, Karla and Bo who are keen to help the twins find their way home. Mama takes them on a cinematic safari exploring all types of animal dwellings to help them on their way.
Play – Everyone wants to play but nobody can agree which game. Bo wants his favourite "pounce and prance", Karla wants to play "nuzzle tag" and Max fancies "elephant trunk orchestra".
They all think their game is best and start getting cross when the others won't join in. Mama's movie shows how and why animals play differently and it soon becomes clear that it's much more fun to play together.