Belfast-made kids TV series bound for American screens

Pictured is Grainne McGuiness, Creative Director at Paper Owl Films, with Jake Williamson, 11, who is the voice of Pablo
Pictured is Grainne McGuiness, Creative Director at Paper Owl Films, with Jake Williamson, 11, who is the voice of Pablo

Pablo, the ground-breaking Northern Ireland-made TV series starring for the first time a child with autism, is taking to the world stage, hitting US and Canada TV screens from this week.

Marking its transatlantic debut, Pablo, which is a live action and 2D animation series written and produced by pioneering Belfast company Paper Owl Films, has been snapped up by US network giant, Universal Kids, and Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC.

Pablo, the ground-breaking Northern Ireland-made TV series, which features a child with autism in the starring role is going global, hitting US and Canada TV screens from this week. Each episode was filmed in Northern Ireland and was devised, co-written and voiced by young autistic talent.

Pablo, the ground-breaking Northern Ireland-made TV series, which features a child with autism in the starring role is going global, hitting US and Canada TV screens from this week. Each episode was filmed in Northern Ireland and was devised, co-written and voiced by young autistic talent.

Pablo tells the story of a smart, funny and resourceful five-year-old boy with autism who handles his everyday situations in a novel way. Using magic crayons, he creates an imaginary Art World filled with playful animal characters which help him turn life’s little challenges into great big adventures.

The result is must-watch viewing for all the family – a visually stunning, highly amusing and truly authentic representation of what life is like for a pre-school child with autism.

Pablo is the first-ever TV programme to feature an all-autistic core cast. Additionally, every episode was inspired by the real-life experiences of children with autism and each one devised, co-written and voiced by young autistic talent.

The news comes ahead of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.

In Northern Ireland, more than 300 children are diagnosed with Autism every year.

Rates of children being diagnosed have quadrupled since 2002. A 2015 report released from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety confirms that there has been a 67 per cent increase in School Age Children in Northern Ireland diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Pablo creator, Grainne McGuinness of Paper Owl Films, said: “We wanted to create an authentic and compelling children’s TV series to encourage greater understanding and empathy around autism. We’re delighted that UK and Ireland viewers have so enjoyed the magic of Pablo and very proud that his exciting adventures are now going to be shared with millions of new children and grown-ups across the world.”

Audiences in Northern Ireland and the UK have already given Pablo a decisive thumbs-up.

Launched on CBeebies and RTEjr. in 2017, with the first half of the 52-part inaugural series televised over the peak autumn-winter season, the show has drawn record audiences and ratings. Series two is already in production.

Ed Galton, CCO and MD of CAKE and Pablo executive producer, said:

“Pablo has had a tremendous response from the international market. Entertaining, unique and sensitively produced, Pablo has inspired broadcasters to really get behind the series with campaigns aimed at increasing awareness and celebrating diversity among their audiences.”

Visit autismni.org to learn more about Autism.