An inspiring Scottish children’s television show has sparked a surge of interest among under five-year-olds keen to see unique artefacts held in museums across the UK.
The filming of 20 new episodes of CBeebies’ favourite, Teacup Travels, has begun with new outdoor scenes filmed at the Head Gardener’s Cottage in Princes Street Gardens, in
Edinburgh today (9th August 2016). Viewing figures for the first series topped over 550,000, according to BARB ratings, with three of its episodes in the top ten for children’s programmes.
Award-winning production company Plum Films, based in Leith, has appointed a team of researchers to locate 20 more inspiring artefacts from museums up and down the UK. The artefacts, which are Japanese, Viking, Greek and Mayan, are being used to create new tales as told by BAFTA winning actress Gemma Jones, who plays Great Aunt Lizzie.
The second series, scheduled to be on air before Christmas, features Gemma Jones, who is also playing Bridget Jones’ mother in the forthcoming Bridget Jones’s Baby; Evie Brassington as Charlotte; and Kemaal Deen-Ellis, a new actor from Manchester, who plays Lokesh.
Co-producer Simon Parsons said: “The beauty of our show is that each and every one of the 20 artefacts that appear in the new series, can be seen in real life in museums across the UK. We know how much kids love going to museums, so Teacup Travels well and truly opens the door to ancient history for little ones”.
One of the venues is the Dick Institute Museum and Gallery in Kilmarnock, run by East Ayrshire Council. “We’ve had a definite surge in young visitors since the Teacup Travel episode featuring the Penanular Celtic brooch was first shown. There has been increased local interest and we’ve spotlighted the artefact so it can’t be missed. It’s certainly been a great way to inspire young minds about history and other cultures,” said Jason Sutcliffe, team leader of collection care at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock.
Susan Gray, of the National Museums Scotland said: “The National Museums Scotland are working with Plum Films who are inspired by real museum artefacts to create fictional adventures in the hit TV series Teacup Travels. We are delighted to help them bring the past to life for young children.’’
Double-Oscar winning set designer Les Dilley, who won his Oscar for Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, has continued his commission to turn the interior sets and the artefacts into realistic props that feature in each story.
Other Scottish museums involved include Inverness Museum, Dumfries Museum, Stranraer Museum, Whithorn Priory and Museum in Newton Stewart, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow and the National Museum of Scotland. Across the rest of the UK, museums in Manchester, Cambridge, Swansea, York, Exeter, Norfolk and Peterborough, as well as the British Museum are involved in encouraging the young Teacup Travel visitors to view original artefacts.
Tony Bibby, who devised Teacup Travels after telling tales of Great Aunt Lizzie to his own children, said: “We been touched by the feedback from the first series. We’ve even heard of a five-year-old pulling his father towards a museum exhibit saying; ‘Look, Daddy, an Egyptian headrest!’ That’s the kind of wide-eyed engagement that is wonderful to see.’’
Co-producer, Micky MacPherson said, “We’re thrilled to have secured a second series for our much loved Teacup Travels and have plans for some exciting new surprises and adventures for Charlotte, as well as introducing new characters. Big thanks to Kay Benbow and Michael Towner at CBeebies for their continued support of Teacup Travels”.
The second series announcement came shortly as news of Teacup Travels will be shown in Australia’s ABC network.
Series two sees our intrepid explorers going on adventures in new lands far away and back in time to Edo Japan, Ancient Greece, the Mayan civilisation and the Viking lands. Our young audience will learn how ancient artefacts were used – from a pig rattle to a spindle whorl, from jade ear ornaments to a spouted tea pot, to name but a handful – then back in Great Lizzie’s cottage, the children will be amazed to see the object they discovered back in her home.