Saturday 08 Mar 2014
In developing ZingZillas, the production team set out to create a standout music show like no other seen before, bringing together the creme de la creme of the pre-school industry – from performers and writers to designer, directors and musicians.
Executive producer, Alison Stewart explains: "We wanted a show that would handle music in a really different way. Our starting point was an understanding that children love all kinds of music so we didn't restrict ourselves to any single musical genre. Instead, ZingZillas is a global music show and music is at the heart of every episode. Each programme seamlessly weaves a strong narrative with catchy toe-tapping melodies, bringing our primate band together with some internationally acclaimed musicians."
Series producer Tony Reed claims: "Great characters and a wonderful tropical island environment – once we had that the rest followed very naturally.
"Although casting our primates was a tricky task as we needed performers who could combine all kinds of talents. They needed to be able to play the instruments they play in the show, have acrobatic skills, be able to act and all this whilst wearing heavy, technology jammed costumes!"
Each episode features a different musical guest with whom the ZingZillas collaborate for their show-stopping Big Zing. Composers Banks & Wag were given the task of writing all the original music in the show. From Bhangra to blues, scat to salsa, this was a huge musical job tackled with relish.
"It's been a dream gig," confesses Chris Banks, "an opportunity to write big melodies, multiple harmonies, and rich arrangements in so many different styles. We wanted to really push the boat out, to go for something bigger and more complex than you usually hear on children's TV.
"Plus we got to work with so many amazing musicians. One week it's Julian Lloyd-Webber or Dame Cleo Laine, the next it's Elio Pace or Stuart Zender. Or the BBC Concert Orchestra. You can't really go wrong with talent like that!"
To add realism to the show's "jam sessions", the pair adopted a hands-on approach.
Wag Marshall-Page explains: "We wanted to really convey the immediacy and energy of writing a song together as a band. So we took all our gear down to Pinewood – keyboards, guitars, bass, drums – and as the ZingZillas 'played' their instruments, we provided the sound, live. I think it gives their rehearsals a genuine chemistry we couldn't have achieved any other way."
The show's Early Years Music Education Consultant, Linda Bance, explains: "When listening to or playing music it can help us relax, concentrate, be motivated and inspire us. It can keep us fit and healthy and allow us to express our emotions. Being involved with music making helps us to communicate, socialise, concentrate, and be broad minded, forward thinking and creative. Young children are naturally musical and adventurous – they love new ideas, taking risks and trying things out. We should not underestimate the power of music in our pre-schoolers' lives and ZingZillas will give them the quality musical experiences they deserve."
Head of CBeebies Production, Kay Benbow, concludes: "ZingZillas is a musical feast introducing new sounds, new instruments and musical ideas into the lives of CBeebies' young audience, inspiring them to jump up, join in and create some music for themselves. ZingZillas band of energetic primates aims to get under-sixs across the nation making music... ZingZilla-style!"