Valley's dirtgirlworld success

SUCCESS: Dirtgirlworld creators Cate McQuillan and Hewey Eustace in the photo they provided Rolling Stone magazine, taken by Coffs Harbour photographer Toni Fuller.
SUCCESS: Dirtgirlworld creators Cate McQuillan and Hewey Eustace in the photo they provided Rolling Stone magazine, taken by Coffs Harbour photographer Toni Fuller. Toni Fuller

WHEN Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace’s brainchild dirtgirlworld debuts on Australian television today, the Whiporie-based couple will be in Sydney for the ABC3 launch.

Even though dirtgirlworld will not be screened on ABC3, instead running daily on ABC2 at 11.45am and Monday to Friday on ABC1 at 3.45pm, it is testimony to the couple’s new-found status that they were invited to the station’s launch.

But Cate is still the same busy and vibrant person she always was, even if she’s learnt a bit more television-speak of late.

She admitted, however, to being a bit obsessive about the fan mail pouring in since the show was launched in the UK and Canada earlier this year.

“It’s rating through the roof ... to give you an idea, it started in the UK four weeks ago and there are 243,000 kids watching it every day – that’s 50 per cent up from normal. It’s like two MCGs of kids sitting down and watching it,” Cate said.

“We’re getting letters from parents who are so excited and tell us the full-on experience of how their kids relate to the show ... it’s really hitting the 4-7s which is where we wanted it.

“Most of them are just happy the show has got a message ... it’s got values without being preachy.”

True to the show’s sustainability theme, the show’s preview DVD arrived last week not covered in plastic but in a recycled cardboard folder printed with vegetable-based waterless ink.

The show itself had my own children enthralled, my four-year-old flat out refused to leave the room until we paused it. There are 52 11-minute episodes in the first series and the five we viewed were compelling viewing.

With lovable characters, bright settings and animation that perplexes the senses, dirtgirlworld is a complete innovation.

“It’s experimental, especially the first episode – we were absolutely making it up as we went along,” Cate said.

“Something’s worked really well and other things we had to tweak.”

The show now employs 130 people internationally and has involved a whole swag of Clarence Valley people, including Wooli Public School students who are known as the Green Thumbs (see story P3).

Some other local or formerly local people involved include: Michael Balk and Maree Lowes (voicing of the main characters), Paul Agar (songwriting/sound engineering), Zoe Coombs-Marr (runner/production assistant), Owen Cassidy (sound recordist) and Judy Hackett (marketing).

On top of the Australian TV premiere, dirtgirlworld will launch its interactive website through the ABC portal from tomorrow. The site is www.abc.net.au/children/dirtgirlworld.

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