BBC to Premiere Animated "Doctor Who" Series on its Red Button Interactive TV Service

--CBBC Announces Plans to Transform its Cartoon Works Portal into "Destination" Site for UK Animation

The BBC plans to premiere "Dreamland," a six-part animated series based on its long-running sci-fi program, "Doctor Who," through its red-button interactive TV service and through its "Doctor Who" Web site. Digital TV viewers will be able to access the show this fall by pressing red while watching BBC One. The series, which totals 45 minutes, will subsequently be broadcast in its entirety on CBBC, BBC Two and BBC HD. Written by Phil Ford ("Doctor Who," "Torchwood," "The Sarah Jane Adventures"), "Dreamland" will see Doctor Who, played by David Tennant, traveling to Roswell, NM. During a visit to a local diner, he stumbles across a mysterious alien artifact which, the BBC says, leads him on a mission "to rescue Rivesh Mantilax from the threat of the Viperox and the clutches of the American military." The show is being executive produced by Russell T. Davies, Julie Gardner and Piers Wenger, and directed by Gary Russell.

In the run-up to the premiere, viewers will be able to visit the Doctor Who Web site to access a behind-the-scenes production blog on the making of "Dreamland," allowing them to follow the progress of the animation as it develops. The series was commissioned by BBC Drama Multiplatform and is being produced by Brighton-based animation company, Littleloud. "I'm extremely excited about 'Dreamland,'" BBC Drama Multiplatform commissioner, Rosie Allimonos, said in a prepared statement. "It presents an amazing opportunity to expand the multiplatform storytelling potential of 'Doctor Who.' To offer the ability to watch this brand new 'Doctor Who' animation on so many different BBC platforms is a real treat for our audience." According to the BBC, its BBC Red Button interactive TV service now reaches around 11 million viewers a week.

In related news: CBBC, a BBC channel targeted at six- to 12-year-olds, announced Friday that it plans to expand its online portal, Cartoon Works, into "a new destination to premiere short-form content from the UK animation industry." Starting this fall, the portal--which CBBC describe as an "online interactive creative playground"--will showcase animated films from both amateurs and professionals, and the films will then be broadcast on CBBC's linear-TV channel in the spring. Cartoon Works is being project-managed by CBBC producer, Helen Brunsdon, was commissioned by former CBBC controller, Anne Gilchrist, and is run by the CBBC Interactive team. Its executive producer is Rachel Bardill.