The Mouse is ready to find new cheese in Europe. Disney Channel in Europe will be upping investment in original programs and local co-productions, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter. The cable outfit is set to open a London office to headquarter its expansion plans and to develop both long- and short-form programming aimed at kids all over the world.
Walt Disney Television managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa John Hardie told the trade that the company’s new commitment represents its most significant drive yet to create kids TV shows in Europe intended not only for local broadcast, but for Disney Channels all over the world.
Among the new ventures is a 26-part series based on famous British author Enid Blyton’s (who also created hits such as Noddy and The Enchanted Woods) Famous Five, a popular book property featuring five young detectives that have been a huge hit worldwide for young readers for more than six decades. The books inspired an ITV live-action series in 1997. The new toon will be produced in partnership with U.K. rights owner Chorion. American writers Douglas Tuber and Tim Maile are set to work on the show, which is due for international broadcast in 2008.
Also on the London office’s development slate is a pre-school series titled Bunny Town, which features a cast of live-action puppets (developed with American Spiffy Pictures to be produced in the U.K. by Bakercoogan) and cute new French characters Whiffle and Fuzz, which will host the bedtime block on Playhouse Disney in Europe.