Killoe man plans kids TV show

John Connell and production company DMCi have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for his children's television show, 'Mr Crocodile'. Photo: John Minihan
A Killoe man who is currently living in Australia has unveiled plans to create a children’s television show, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for the project.

A Killoe man who is currently living in Australia has unveiled plans to create a children’s television show, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funding for the project.

John Connell, whose family now reside at Soran near Ballinalee, told the Longford Leader he hatched the plan for ‘Mr Crocodile’ while he was still a student.

“It all began with some doodles on a balcony when I was a young exchange student in Australia,” he said. “I was in a silly mood and had a pen and paper in my hand, and in walked Mr Crocodile. That was the start of my journey into the world of entertainment.

“That first doodle of Mr Crocodile has grown from a simple sketch on a notebook to a living, breathing character. I’ve been working on the show for the last four years on and off, both in Ireland and Australia, but it was a chance meeting with the director of an Australian production company, DMCi, in 2013 that has really moved the project forward” added John, who is based in Sydney, where he works as a journalist, author, and playwright.

The writer also explained that the show is aimed at children who are experiencing learning difficulties.

“The show is aimed at 5-10 year-olds, with a specific interest in children with learning challenges, including autism, so a few of the shows cater to children with these issues. It is a moral show based on social stories, so helping each other out, being respectful to adults, etc. My sister Linda is an occupational therapist and helped us devise the whole angle of the show.”

Talking about the characters on the show, John said there will be about 10 in total: “Three good guys, three bad guys, Barry the barramundi - a fish who is our narrator - and other ancillary characters. Each character has their own issue. For example, Mr Croc can’t swim and Ziggy the cockatoo, his best friend, can’t fly, so everyone is trying their best to cope with their own challenges just like in real life.”

To finance the programme, John says he is aiming to raise €10,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, “which will cover the cost of our next round of development and allow us to begin the next phase, moving from production to making the show outright. We are hoping to move into production in 2016.

Asked where it can be viewed when completed, John said it will be widely available online.

“We have been in talks for a while about this and we are thinking of bringing the show online first so that it will be available on YouTube, our own website, and other free video players. That way, children around the world can watch the show and it means we can create and release episodes much faster than on traditional TV.

In addition to working on Mr Crocodile, John recently released his first novel, ‘The Ghost Estate’, through Picador in Australia, and it has been garnering favourable reviews.

“It’s just been nominated for the Queensland Literary Prize here in Australia, so I’m very happy about that,” he admitted. “I’m about to fly to London at the end of the month to meet with my agent to discuss the book coming out in the UK and Ireland, and also to talk about my next book about JFK.”

To support the Mr Crocodile Kickstarter campaign, go to http://bit.ly/mrcrocodile.