Chris O'Dowd to voice cartoon series about puffins
Actor Chris O'Dowd is to feature in a new TV cartoon series about puffins.
The Irish actor will narrate Puffin Rock, an animated series that follows the adventures of a family of puffins on a wild Irish island.
Some of the sequences will be produced in Londonderry, where a new studio will be set up to help make the series.
"I love the whole idea and the style of the artwork. I can't wait to be involved in it, but then I do love anything with puffins," said O'Dowd.
Pip, an adventure-loving young puffin, and the hero of the show, explores the island with her little brother Baba. They make friends and hunt for food.
Derry-based media firm Dog Ears is setting up the studio to begin work on the series, which will air on Nickelodeon and Irish state broadcaster RTÉ in 2014.
Creative director of Dog Ears, John McDaid, said: "We developed a book and an app in the past year which really let the puffin characters develop. Now something amazing is happening.
"Penguin, the company behind children's books, say they have been trying to reinvigorate their brand so when we came to them with Puffin Rock they were delighted and wanted to come on board.
"Nickelodeon then came on board and we really have been sticking to our own guns. Discussions happened at the right time as Penguin were looking to refresh their brand.
"We have been waiting two years to make this announcement. Hopefully there will be a ripple effect when it comes to employment.
"You don't need to pack up your kit and head to London. We have made a book and an app in our tiny office so anything can happen.
"We're going to move into a new custom-built creative space. People making a cartoon on Bishop Street sounds amazing."
The TV series will feature 39 seven-minute episodes and Penguin will produce digital and physical format books and products to accompany it.
Dog Ears said the narrator, Chris O'Dowd, will mix amusing observations with interesting facts about the wildlife on the island.
Tim Patterson, director of programming at Nickelodeon UK, said: "Puffin Rock, with its beautiful art style and charming storytelling, is a perfect complement to the Nick Jr. schedule.
"It is a rich, gorgeous show and I am sure kids and their parents will be drawn into the programme's beguiling world."
Francesca Dow, managing director at Penguin children's division, said: "At Penguin we are experts at storytelling and we love the story and the look and the feel of the characters in Puffin Rock.
"Of course, the fact that the show is all about baby puffins also made this an even more appealing project for us. We are thrilled to be working with Chris O'Dowd and to have Nick Jr. UK and RTÉjr on board as broadcasters."