Darrall Macqueen Ltd
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Darrall Macqueen is an independent children's television production company based in London, United Kingdom. It was formed in 2000 by Billy Macqueen and Maddy Darrall who were formerly Vice President Programming and Development (Europe and Africa) and Director of UK Programmes for the Walt Disney Company, London.
Darrall Macqueen’s first production was a converged TV/web event week for ITV in January 2000 called Mouse. This was transmitted live every day over children's half term school holidays on CiTV, celebrating the internet and interactivity. A further two Mouse event weeks were commissioned in 2001, during which time Darrall Macqueen were consulting for HomeChoice (UK based VoD service now called TalkTalk TV) on their pre-school and children's broadband strategy, and for Yes Television (UK based IPTV and VoD) on their children's ADSL channel and branding creative strategy. In 2002 Darrall Macqueen were asked to tender for a new CBBC weekend interactive magazine show and won the commission with Smile, hosted by a teenage Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates and Devin Griffin (currently all BBC Radio 1 DJs). Smile ran from 2002 until 2007 with more than 250 three-hour live broadcasts, winning Darrall Macqueen a BAFTA in the Interactive category in 2005, an Interactive Indie of the Year Award (2005) and a BAFTA in the Presenter category for Barney Harwood who was the host of Smile in 2007.
In 2002, Darrall Macqueen devised and was commissioned to make CBBC's first interactive drama series, UGetMe. The 32 45-minute dramas, with associated web radio shows, showcased the work of great young British comedy performing and writing talent such as 15-year-old actor Josh Herdman (Gregory Goyle in the Harry Potter features) and writers Howard Overman (who went on to devise Channel 4's Misfits) and Michael Wynne (who went on to write the feature Summer of Love). UGetMe was co-devised by Jacquetta May (creator/writer of the feature In Love With Barbara), and its start-up director was Otto Bathurst (who went on to direct Hustle, Five Days and Criminal Justice for which he won a BAFTA).
In 2004 Darrall Macqueen created a live action comedy format with the presenting talent from Smile for CBBC called The Crust. This 15-part urban sitcom set in a pizza take-out starred Reggie Yates and Devin Griffin alongside Sharon D Clarke.
In 2004 Darrall Macqueen made a series of 13 high octane game shows for CiTV called Play the Game, and, in 2005, Darrall Macqueen was asked to produce CiTV's thrill seeking action series Feel the Fear, starring Steve Wilson and Holly Willoughby. In 2006 they produced 30 comedy animal tales for CiTV called Animal Spies, which featured the voice talent of Lenny Henry and Ricky Tomlinson.
In September 2005 the leading Australian production and distribution company Southern Star took a majority shareholding in Darrall Macqueen. Southern Star, who already owned Carnival Films and Oxford Scientific Films in the UK, were then bought by Southern Cross, who in turn were purchased by Fairfax Media. When Endemol took over Fairfax Media in 2009 Darrall Macqueen took back full control of the company.
At the 2006 Children's BAFTAs, Darrall Macqueen won the inaugural BAFTA for Production Company of the Year.
In 2007 Darrall Macqueen created Bear Behaving Badly for CBBC, a 26-part slapstick sitcom for 7-11 year olds that pitted Smile's blue bear called Neville against a corrupt caretaker called Mr Angry Pants. Darrall Macqueen have so far produced four series of Bear Behaving Badly for CBBC (78 25-minute episodes) and the series is one of CBBC's most successful comedy "classics" both on TV and online with the Nevaland game brand at www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc.
In 2009 Darrall Macqueen developed a comedy animation series called Pet Squad with Irish comedian/writer Caimh McDonnell. The series was acquired by CBBC and co-produced by March Entertainment in Canada, Inspidea animation studio in Malaysia with support from MDeC (the Malaysian government's media support fund) and distributed by Sony Pictures in Los Angeles. Pet Squad (52 11-minute episodes) has been a ratings success for CBBC and was described by CBBC Controller Damian Kavanagh as "one of our biggest hits of the year". The series was sold to TVE in Spain. Pet Squad was voiced by top British voice talent Ben Small (voice of Thomas the Tank Engine), Ronni Ancona, Rob Rackstraw (voice of Travis, Spud and Scoop in Bob the Builder and Kwazii in Octonauts) and Adam Longworth (voice of the King in Jelly Jamm).
In 2011 Darrall Macqueen won its first commission from CBeebies to make a pre-school series called Baby Jake. Series two is currently in production and mixes live action and 2D photo-real animation to bring a real baby to life. The series is animated by Jam Media in Dublin and the lead writer is Dave Ingham (Charlie and Lola, Koala Brothers). Baby Jake is broadcast on the CBeebies International Channels and launched on RAI in Italy in April 2012. Baby Jake toys, books and DVDs are available.
- 2005: Children's BAFTA to Smile for Best Interactive Programme
- 2005: The Indie Award to Smile for Best Interactive Media
- 2006: Children's BAFTA for Production Company of the Year
- 2007: Children's BAFTA to Barney Harwood for Best Presenter
- The Crust
- Play the Game
- Feel the Fear
- Animal Spies
- Bear Behaving Badly
- Hi 5
- The Fluffy Club
- Pet Squad
- Baby Jake
- Topsy and Tim