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15/12/2005

New ITV series coming to Belfast

The Northern Ireland television sector looks set to have a happy New Year as the province is poised to welcome one of Europe’s biggest television production companies to its shores in January.
Emmy Award-winning Initial, part of the hugely successful Endemol Group, is coming to Northern Ireland to shoot the first 26 episodes of a new children’s television drama series, ‘Bel’s Boys’, which has been co-funded by the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission (NIFTC).
The show is to air in 2006 on the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV1, in its children’s slot CITV. Bel’s Boys follows the fortunes of pop-obsessed nine-year-old Bel, who ends up managing a new boy band. Bel really does know what works, music wise; but will the band, her Dad and the world take a 9 year old seriously?
Although Northern Ireland has recently seen a spate of feature films go into production, there has been a distinct lack of home-grown television product for network broadcast and the growth of this sector has been a major objective of the NIFTC.
Chairman Colin Anderson and CEO Richard Williams have been working with Initial for nigh on a year now and both agree it is a huge coup for Northern Ireland that a company of this calibre is coming to the province, not only to shoot the series, but also to do all the postproduction.
Anderson commented: “There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work to reach this point. The presence of a film or television crew often brings a sense of excitement but you have to remember that with it comes economic benefit for the province – in terms of utilising local cast and crews and facilities. And of course when the series is broadcast on television, it helps build positive exposure for Northern Ireland to a much wider audience.”
Williams added: “We’re all about building a sustainable industry here in Northern Ireland. Now that Endemol has discovered Northern Ireland’s potential, we hope they will come back again – and we’re working hard to ensure that others will follow.”
Initial’s Christopher Pilkington is Executive Producing the series. He commented: “This is a great aspirational story, and we are excited at the opportunity of basing and shooting the series in Northern Ireland. The NIFTC has been really helpful in facilitating this creative relationship, and we are looking forward to working with the rich talent base across the province. The series celebrates story-telling, and great music, so where better to be working? This is a hugely important series for us, and to be working with CITV and the NIFTC feels like the beginning of a big story, and one that we want to run and run.”
Overall, from pre-production, to shoot and through to post-production, Bel’s Boys will spend just over 6 months in Northern Ireland. All the cast is being sourced from there and the production team is headed up by local producer Colin McKeown.
(GB)
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