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Lime Tree Lane animated production series to hire 26 persons

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Christopher Daley (left) and Omar Azan of the Bashco infomercial.

Local production house ListenMi Caribbean will start production on an animated version of the 1980s sitcom Lime Tree Lane and is set to employ more than 20 persons to work on the series.

The production house won't say whether they will draw on favourite characters such as Christopher Daley, who played the role of Johnny. They say, however, that viewers can expect known characters with new storylines.

Beyond the nostalgia, the project forms part of a drive to earn new revenue and increased awareness of the series, while also driving local content for the burgeoning animation industry.

"This could be historic," said Keith Campbell, chief executive of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.

The PBCJ holds the rights to the series and will offer ListenMi support through facilitating endorsements. The production will begin in mid-month 2019 with plans for 12 episodes in the first series.

PBCJ receives channel support from the Government but also from endorsements from the corporate sector rather than offering advertising. PBCJ still airs reruns of Lime Tree Lane daily at 7.03 a.m.

Lime Tree Lane was one of the longest-running series on Jamaica's daytime television and revolved around the lives of Miss Zela, Maas Gussie, Maas Donald, Johnny, Miss Uptown, Constable Uptown, and a few others. The show and its cast are associated with core Jamaican values.

"We expect no fewer than 26 people will be needed to work on this series. But we're very open to co-producing with other animation studios," stated ListenMi in response to Financial Gleaner queries. "We are finalising the budget now to ensure that the quality of the production is in line with the global potential of this series."

Kenia Mattis is the co-founder and CEO of ListenMi Caribbean, known for creating programmes including ListenMi News, Maroons comic series and a barrage of radio advertisements.

ListenMi now describes itself as offering full animation studio services. It has developed animated shorts for brands such as the Jamaica Public Service, Broadcasting Commission, University of the West Indies Press, and also its own series, The Adventures of Kam Kam.

ListenMi said Lime Tree Lane "shows a range of characters from kids to adults and is a funny, sassy comedy that brings different people together. We also believe that if done right, we can bring global distribution potential to this title as we leverage the Caribbean diaspora worldwide and countries where our music is strong."

PBCJ will have first rights to broadcast for the animated series. After that ListenMi hopes it will find a home on free to air channels locally, and then regional and global distribution. The target audience ranges between ages seven to 11, but the company expect parents to tune in also, due to its nostalgia.

"Many of us grew up with it and it helped reflect and define the culture we understood as Jamaican, while it is new to the younger generation. We hope to bridge this gap. It was the most popular TV series in Jamaica in the 1980s-1990s and lends itself to global adaptation," added ListenMi.

Some two years ago, the PBCJ and ListenMi began discussions into creating programmes which engage with a wide cross section of the population. It was decided that "old shows with a modern format" would be the way to go, said Campbell.

"We invited some of the characters of Lime Tree Lane who are still alive to participate in the project," he said, adding that "the characters want to participate."