TVNZ’s iconic cartoon characters, the Kiwi and the Cat, return to our screens tonight after a 14 year gap.
The two animated characters were initially used to signal the end of transmission each night in the days before 24 hour television – and they last appeared on screen in October 1994.
However over the years TVNZ has had repeated requests for their return, and the decision has been made to bring them out of retirement in time to deliver Christmas and holiday season greetings.
While the animation and the theme music have been kept very true to the original, both have been slightly modernised for their introduction to a whole new generation of New Zealanders.
Animator Tim Hunt, of Diddley Squatt.com Ltd, who was given the brief for the new design, was asked to hand draw the new version in 2D just like the old one – so the style would be instantly recognisable.
There are three scenarios in the new series – one is a Christmas tree scene, one is a night time scene reminiscent of the old transmission closedown sequence, and one is a holiday season sequence.
The first one goes to air this evening on TV ONE and TV2 at approximately 7.30. Later in the month the series will begin playing on all other TVNZ channels and platforms.
TVNZ’s General Manager of Marketing, Jason Paris, says it was clear that many New Zealanders had a tremendous affection for the cartoon characters, and it was felt that Christmas was the perfect time to bring them out of retirement.
“They will definitely have an on-going role with us, although we are still working out how we may use them across all our platforms in the future,” he said.
TVNZ has located many of the team who worked on the original design, who are now scattered all over the world, to let them know the Kiwi and the Cat are back on air.
Anthony Stones, who was Head of Design at the time and is now in Oxford, England, said he was amazed and delighted that the Kiwi and the Cat should still be remembered, and sent his best wishes for their return to the screen.