The claymation favourite Morph is moving from the BBC to Sky after the satellite broadcaster announced its first move into original programming for children.
The speechless animated model, first unveiled on the BBC in 1977, will return in a new series of adventures available exclusively through Sky Kids, a new app featuring thousands of children’s shows.
The new Morph episodes will be created by the Oscar-winning Aardman Animations studio. The character is moving to pay-TV, after returning to the CBBC channel last year.
Sky Kids, available from Thursday to Sky Family pack subscribers, promises to be a “fun and safe way for pre-schoolers to 9 year-olds to enjoy the widest range of popular kids’ TV programmes.”
Designed for children viewing content through smartphones and tablets, the app will offer access to 4,000 episodes of shows currently running on channels including Disney Jr, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Sky has also licensed popular series which run on CBeebies including The Octonauts.
Competition for the attention of younger viewers, who are shunning traditional television screens, is becoming more intense.
On-demand service Netflix is reviving children’s favourites including Care Bears & Cousins. Disney is launching new television shows through its mobile apps and the BBC is working on a standalone Children’s iPlayer.
Sky is also planning to invest in the creation of home-grown children’s programming. Short features showing children how to create and film their own characters will run alongside the Morph episodes, which are due to begin in the autumn.
Children will create their own profiles, ensuring they see programmes aged at their particular age group. Parents can switch the app “off” at bedtime through a pre-set timer. Despite their popularity among its audience, the app will not feature games.
Sky said it planned to create children’s versions of popular entertainment shows on its adult channels. However the broadcaster said programmes such as Ross Kemp’s Britain and Arctic murder mystery series Fortitude would be unlikely candidates for a children’s remake.
Lucy Murphy, head of Kids Content at Sky, said: “We have worked really closely with lots of children and parents to design the new Sky Kids app. Safety is of fundamental importance so parents will be able to filter what their child watches according to age.”
Morph was originally introduced by the late artist Tony Hart and created by Aardman Animations for the Take Heart series. Aardman revived the series with the help of a Kickstarter-supported fan appeal in 2014.
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