Musical stars take centre stage in new CBeebies animation Yukee set in Northern Ireland
Date Posted: February 2, 2024
Brand new animation Yukee, set in Northern Ireland, is a music-first preschool series created by musicians for the musicians of the future. Yukee is a 52×7 2D animated series produced by local company Score Draw Media for CBeebies with funding from Northern Ireland Screen. Yukee will air on CBeebies weekdays from Monday 5 February, and episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer.
The show is a series about the sheer joy of making a noise with friends and reminds us that ‘music is for everyone’, as well as having themes of community, friendship, and cooperation at its heart. Yukee offers young audiences a gentle, child-centred introduction to music education and exposes them to simple, yet fundamental musical concepts that will form a strong foundation for lifelong learning and enjoyment of music – beat, rhythm, pitch, tempo, timbre, form, dynamics, expression and style.
Yukee herself is of Northern Ireland and Chinese heritage – and in every episode takes her own beloved red ukulele into a magical garden filled with instrument playing animal friends. Music adventures are never far away, and song ideas can come from anywhere in the garden – be it the rhythmic pitter patter of raindrops, or a gang of passing ants stomping their tiny feet to a steady beat.
Star guests and stories include: Wet Leg who appear as a travelling troupe of snails called The Slime Sisters proving that the most important instrument of all is your voice; Ezra Collective – who are cast as travelling jazz musicians Ezy and Ray in an episode all about improvisation and taking inspiration from the music unexpected of places; Maisie Peters who plays a mouse that’s become lost in the garden and needs a musical map to find her way home. Lauren Laverne who plays a roving reporter called Roxie Rabbit from what other station but, of course – Sticks Music.
Yukee also features the legendary voice of PP Arnold, playing the first mouse of Soul, none other than Cleo Nibbles; Dame Evelyn Glennie, who plays a percussive woodpecker called TipTop in an episode all about listening skills and rhythm; Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) who crash lands into the garden as a musician pigeon called Feathers (with a guitar called Wheezy) needing the right beat so he can learn to flap his wings again; And the iconoclastic-voiced Chali 2na (Jurassic 5) – who comes into the garden as a rapping fox called Bushy T, teaching old school hiphop skipping songs. Sam Carter (Architects) plays Hoops Van Badger, king of rock, in an episode all about loud and quiet music. Tom Odell plays Paulie, a piano playing peacock in an episode all about the magic of when words and melody come together.
It was commissioned by Kate Morton, Senior Head of Commissioning for BBC Children’s 0-6, and Beth Gardiner is the Commissioning Executive for BBC Children’s 0-6. The series producers are Stephen O’Neill and Mark Gordon, and the executive producers are Sam Barlow, Sean Carson from Score Draw Media and Somu Mohapatra.
This commission is part of the BBC’s Across the UK strategy, which aims to better reflect, represent and serve all parts of the UK.
Kate Morton, Senior Head of Commissioning for BBC Children’s 0-6, says: “Fusing entertainment and education for preschool children across the UK is a key part of our strategy – and there is no better way to do this than through having fun with music! Yukee’s world isn’t just about music, it’s also about friendships and connecting with the natural world around her giving a strong foundation for lifelong learning and enjoyment. We’re thrilled to have such amazing musical talent on board and to be collaborating with a brilliant production team in Northern Ireland on this project.”
Mark Gordon, Executive producer at Score Draw, says: “We could not be more delighted to be launching our special pre-school music series Yukee with CBeebies and the BBC. The whole idea of Yukee is to allow very young children, before they pick up an instrument, to be able to gently dip their toes into simple music ideas and concepts. Score Draw as a production company is filled with musicians, composers and music obsessives – and every part of this show’s creation is cut through with that same music DNA. We cannot wait for children to engage with the characters, guests, and stories in Yukee – and especially with all of our wonderful songs!”
Wet Leg says: “Our unexpected magical musical adventure has turned us into two touring snails, as the Slime Sisters in CBeebies’ new animation Yukee! We hope we can spark a little love of music making amongst CBeebies fans.”
Dame Evelyn Glennie says: “I was thrilled to be a guest on Yukee. It’s so important for Children to be introduced to basic music skills at an early age. Learning to listen and experience the different sounds and ingredients that make up music will give Children a solid foundation for lifelong music appreciation.”
Sam Carter (Architects) says: “Doing this was so much fun and something that I was so thrilled to be asked to do. Fun and easy musical learning like this is so important. If it wasn’t for the musical teachers in my school I wouldn’t have ended up with the career I’ve been fortunate enough to have.”
PP Arnold says: “I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the Yukee series that introduces young children to music in such a fun, inspirational way. It was my pleasure to share my love of Soul Music through the character of the darling ‘Cleo Nibbles’ the Soul Mouse. I hope that Cleo Nibbles will be the catalyst to opening the door for the children to discover this genre of music that comes from Gospel music and the Blues, the root of Rock and Roll and Pop music.”