Perhaps someone in the corporate corridors of the ABC is muttering the familiar lines: “I’m a rat, I’m a rat, I’m a clever clever rat” after stitching up a deal which could see the much loved Bananas in Pyjamas put into storage to make way for an overseas-produced cartoon version of the show.

A tip off to Crikey suggests that the ABC is prepared to retire all 200 episodes of its popular show for a one-off payment so that the European-owned production company, Endemol Southern Star, can produce an animated version of the program.

According to the tip-off, the ABC would receive nearly $5 million in return for allowing Endemol Southern Star to go ahead with the production of the cartoon at its Singapore production offices.

The tip-off said:

It is of little concern to ABC management that B1 & B2 have made around $22 million dollars for the ABC since they were created. This includes the fact the show has been sold and dubbed into many languages around the world. Most importantly B1 and B2 have become a much loved Australian kids’ show.

In the future kids will get a perky animated series that is produced in Singapore and owned by a European company. It will also put an end to any residual payments the actors and writers of the original series could earn.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking B2?”

“I think I am B1, those ungrateful executives at the ABC are replacing us with an out-sourced cartoon, despite the fact that we’ve made Aunty so much money by being our charming, albeit slightly nerdy selves.”

Noel Price, the Executive Producer of Children’s programs at Southern Star, told Crikey this morning that the tip-off is “not quite correct” and described some of it as based on “half truths”. However, rather unhelpfully, he wouldn’t say which bits are wrong. So while we know something is happening on the banana front, we can’t confirm exactly what.

Price told Crikey that he could “…point to sixteen or seventeen shows that we’re discussing with broadcasters. Some of them are shelved until a later date, some of them come off, others don’t.”

Jacqueline Chan, the general manager of business relations at Southern Star’s Singapore office confirmed to Crikey this morning that negotiations about Bananas in Pyjamas have been taking place but she said “nothing has been confirmed yet.”

The ABC did not reply to Crikey’s enquiry by deadline today.

Endemol Southern Star is a foreign-owned company after the European-based Endemol acquired 100% of Southern Star from Fairfax Media in January this year.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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