Baaad puns but great kids' TV

24th June 2005 at 01:00
For years, the Welsh have been the target of sheep-related gibes about woolly-backed natives from the mountains.

So when S4C TV producer Nia Ceidiog created a daytime children's programme about a fleecy family, she risked pandering to all those embarrassing stereotypes.

But with a Greek grandad whose wife is black and relatives spread across Europe, this clan, woolly or not, are out to challenge a few pre-conceived notions about the land of song in the 21st century. The first series of Meees, known as Baaas in English, will be shown with English subtitles on Monday, June 27, at 12.30pm.

Aimed at three to seven-year-olds, it is designed to develop young minds in a multi-cultural Welsh society.

It covers issues such as citizenship, family values, ecology and music, and primary school teachers are already planning to tune in so pupils do not miss out. There is also a music-led educational website for all young fans.

"Meees has a rainbow of cultural backgrounds, from a Greek grandad to a French aunt - it really is reflective of family life in Wales today," said Ms Ceidiog.

"It also has many parallels with the ethos of the foundation phase."

Grandad sheep Costaaas, who has a job in recycling, keeps a welcome in the hillside with his singing. A retired opera performer, he met his wife, Baaalwen, when they sang together in a choir. They have a daughter, Meeegan, who has twins, Jaaason and Meeedea, and a partner, Meeelfyn, who is not the father of her children.

The all-singing, all-dancing family of multi-racial sheep love classical music but the younger children are also big fans of rap. Ms Ceidiog, whose mum was a schoolteacher and her dad a former head, said: "The programme has real grown-up issues that adults will relate to."

Shot with actors dressed in full skin suits, the series uses the latest in animatronics to bring characters to life. The programme has already won international acclaim, and a pilot series in English was shown at last year's Cannes film festival.

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