TVNZ & WildBrain Commission Badjelly Staring Miriam Margoyles
New Zealand’s Mukpuddy Animation, Canada’s Sphere Animation and the UK’s Cantilever Media announce they have teamed up to produce the brand-new kids’ series, Badjelly, starring Miriam Margolyes OBE and based on a beloved story from legendary comedian Spike Milligan. Commissioned by New Zealand’s TVNZ and WildBrain Television’s Family Channel in Canada, Badjelly is the first-ever treaty co-production in kids’ animation between New Zealand, Canada and UK studios. ABC Australia has also acquired the series for their platforms. The new series is being produced with the permission of Spike Milligan Productions and the family of Spike Milligan.
Production on the 13 x 22’ 2D-animated series for kids 7 to 11-years old began earlier this year, with delivery scheduled for 2025. WildBrain is global distributor outside of New Zealand and Australia.
Based on the beloved kids’ book,Badjelly the Witch: A Fairy Story, an irreverent modern fairy tale by renowned Irish comedian, poet, playwright and actor, Spike Milligan, Badjelly delivers a fresh new take for today’s kids on this classic story, all the while preserving the crazy humour, bizarre situations and quirky characters from Milligan’s original tale that has entertained kids for generations.
Renowned BAFTA-winning stage and screen actor, Miriam Margolyes OBE, who delighted audiences as Professor Pomona Sprout in the Harry Potter film franchise, will star as the voice of the enigmatic Badjelly.
Alongside Margolyes, Rhys Darby (Trolls, Jumanji: The Next Level, Carmen Sandiego) stars as the mischievous Binklebonk, Ava Diakhaby (Shortland Street) is the charming and brave Rose, and rising star Malachi Hall (The Flatshare) is the fearless Tim. They are joined by an array of international talent, including Roisin Conaty (GameFace), Cohen Holloway (Under the Vines), Mandip Gill (Dr Who), Joe Wilkinson (Sex Education), Katherine Parkinson (Significant Other), Kiell Smith-Bynoe (Ghosts) and Julian Barratt (The Great).
Milligan originally wrote Badjelly the Witch as a fairy tale for his children in 1973, telling the hilarious story of sister and brother, Rose and Tim, who go searching for their lost cow, Lucy, only to encounter a cast of strange and magical characters in the great black forest and be captured by Badjelly, the wickedest witch in all the world. Packed full of weird and wonderful surprises about good triumphing over evil, the book was hand-written and illustrated by Milligan himself, and published by Penguin. It was later turned into a successful audio play starring Milligan and a few years later retold with a full orchestra, released by Polydor Records.
Badjelly represents a significant step for Mukpuddy, leading the charge to raise the profile of animated storytelling from New Zealand. Head writer and co-director Ryan Cooper is brimming with enthusiasm, stating, “We’ve assembled a great team of writers and creatives who are taking Spike Milligan’s creationto another level of enchantment, thrills and whimsical quirky fun. Stay tuned as this magical Badjelly animated series rekindles the spirit of Milligan’s whimsical world and takes you on an unforgettable adventure!”
“Badjelly the Witch is wildly popular in New Zealand,” says producer Simon Ward. “Generations of Kiwi kids have grown up with the book, the radio play and countless versions of the stage show. We’re delighted to bring this beloved classic to a global audience with our take on Spike Milligan’s bonkers adventure.”
Marlo Miazga, president of Sphere Media Kids & Family, says: “This project represents such fresh creative collaboration that our team leaped at the opportunity to join the party. Badjelly the Witch was the invention of one of the great comic geniuses of all time, Spike Milligan, and she is voiced in our new series by another national treasure, Miriam Margolyes. We’re thrilled to join forces with a team of unrivalled international animation talent to give this exciting new show the best launch pad for global success.”
“It’s a complete honour to be the UK Producers on Badjelly,” says Producer Carys Rowan of Cantilever Media. “We have a dream team who have an aligned vision: to create funny, relatable and visually beautiful content that doesn’t talk down to our kids.”
The development of Badjelly was made possible with the support of Ara ki Te Puna Kairangi – the New Zealand Government’s Premium Development Fund. Additionally, Badjelly is funded by Te Puna Kairangi, the New Zealand Government’s Premium Productions Fund, NZ On Air, and the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate (NZSPR) as well as the Ontario and Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credits, the British Film Institute’s UK Global Screen Fund and the UK Animation Tax Credit.