This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2009-01-10 — sourcemeta

Source: 1, 2
Author:Barbara Hooks (The Age, Green Guide)

Tv eye

Shiffs that prance in the night

After Melbourne producer Jonathan Shiff accepted the inaugural International BAFTA Award for Excellence in a Children’s Program for Ocean Girl, everyone wanted to know him. But not because he won the award against 33 contenders from all over the world. At the London awards ceremony, Cleopatra, the hot new act set to follow the Spice Girls, came down into the audience and, to his horror, pulled him on to the stage. “And so there, before the BBC and ITV cameras, I found myself dancing with the latest pop sensation of Britain, as part of their act. At supper afterwards, I had 700 people from the British broadcasting industry come up to me, more of them commenting on my dancing than congratulating me for the award. But my daughter was very impressed.”

And Shiff may yet fetch up on Airport. As very few BAFTAs travel out of the country, Heathrow’s security staff were intrigued. “The X-ray machine bounced and they gathered around to inspect it because they’d never actually picked one up, or felt it - and they are the Oscars of Britain.” Ocean Girl, now in its fourth series, is seen by 50 million people in 115 countries, making it one of the most recognised Australian shows around the world. Children’s television programming was selected for the first international BAFTA, but other categories for non-British programs are set to follow in future years.

A real sea change

“The Gods were smiling on us,” says Peter Beilby, chief executive of Artist Services production division. The day after the beachside launch of SeaChange at MIP, Cannes experienced a real sea change, with two-metre waves crashing along the jetties lining La Croisette promenade, dragging deckchairs and umbrellas out to sea. Several hundred buyers attended the launch, “a French interpretation of an Aussie BBQ”, complete with balloons and SeaChange beachballs. “The weather was cooler than usual and the backdrop as the sun set was quite dramatic, with dark clouds in the background. So when SeaChange, in all its bright glory, leapt on to the preview screen everyone came awake and it looked fabulous.” Beilby says several broadcasters expressed interest, including the BBC, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, a major German broadcaster and all the Scandinavian countries. “We’re quietly confident its success here will be reflected internationally.”