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Latibær has a new look and the townspeople have been given American names and looks. Inga Rún Sigurðardóttir spoke to Ágúst Frey Ingason, Managing Director, about the expansion.
It’s a happy bustle at Latibær these days and Americans may not have to wait long for opportunities to get to know the Sports Elf, Solla Stirða, Goggi mega and Glanni glæpur, or Sportacus, Stephanie, Pixel and Robbie Rotten as they are called in English. The company Latibær has commissioned a so-called “pilot” or introductory episode about this creation by Magnús Scheving, which mixes puppets, actors and a three-dimensional world of cartoons. Magnús himself plays the role of the Sports Elf, who is now more of a superhero than an elf, and Stefán Karl Stefánsson plays Glanni glæpur in the introductory episode. Solla Stirða is also made of flesh and blood, but other characters are puppets.
An introductory episode has been made
It is hoped that a series will be produced according to the idea, but Magnús does not intend to take on the role of the Sports Elf if that happens. “The next step is to take this package to television stations” says Ágúst Freyr Ingason, the company’s managing director. Furthermore, a special book has been made, “show bible”, where the ideology of Latibær is introduced in more detail. The material will be broadcast on major children’s television stations in the United States and the United Kingdom. “This process is starting now” Ágúst explains, but says that it can therefore take half a year to get a result from the negotiations with the television stations. “We have great faith that this will appeal to people” he says, as Latibær’s positive message seems to be relevant in the recent debate about childhood obesity and low physical activity. “There is also a lot going on in Latibær, even though there is no violence. The message about exercising and eating healthy food is dominant” says Ágúst, who explains that a variety of issues are addressed that concern the upbringing of children.
Far ahead in health matters
“There are TV shows that deal with some of these educational programs, but what we have above all others is to deal with health issues. We are far ahead of others there” Ágúst emphasizes and says that comparable material does not exist in the United States. He adds that the message from Latibær is not too obvious either. “He appears without the children realizing it. They have chosen. This is not preaching or extremism.” The first books about Latibær were published in 1995, so the townspeople have had plenty of time to develop. “This work has been going on for almost a year now, but since February it has been in full swing.” The British company Artem created a puppet from Goggi mega, who is now dark-skinned, and Siggi, who is still cute. “We have made clay statues of the others so that it is possible to see what the puppets will look like” says Ágúst, when making puppets is expensive.
Author from Sesame Street
He says that the main emphasis has been on making top quality materials and finding the right colleagues. For example, Norman Stiles is the show’s lead editor. “He was the lead author of the well-known Sesame Street children’s show for almost two decades and received 11 Emmy Awards for his work” says Ágúst. The people of Latibær have not forgotten their Icelandic friends, but Útvarp Latibær is in full swing and in the mood for Christmas. “This is one of the few radio stations for children in the world” says Ágúst, but those who want to get to know the people of Latibær further can tune in to FM 102.2.