H2O - Just Add Water: articles

H2O cast / The Wigggles

The Wiggles and H2O-Just Add Water break US accent barrier

THE Aussie accent is no longer a barrier for home-grown children's television shows trying to break into the US market, industry experts say.

The Screen Producers' Association of Australia conference was told yesterday that the broad Australian twang had, in the past, made it difficult to sell shows in the United States.

But the US success of The Wiggles, and now H2O - Just Add Water, a show about girls who turn into mermaids, was breaking the accent barrier.

"I used to think the accent was a problem but H2O is now on Nickelodeon US, it's rating really well and I'm told it's being moved to a Saturday night spot prime time," H2O producer Jonathan M Shiff told the Gold Coast conference.

"That's great for Australia generally if our live action accents can spread."

Disney Channel Australia programming director Anthony Danna said many people doubted The Wiggles would be successful before their 2002 US debut.

But, The Wiggles and H2O had paved the way for change in the US.

"The success H2O has had on Nickelodeon is actually opening up a lot of eyes that were once closed or ears that didn't want to listen," Danna said.

"(Accent) is not an issue any more, and it shouldn't be.

"If anyone in the United States tells any of you that accents matter, they're lying. They are most likely using it to mask some other issue that they have with the series and it's an easy way to not hurt people's feeling because it's something you can't change."

Grahame Grassby, director of production house Stella Projects, said there were ways of getting around stubborn television executives who wanted to dub American voices onto Australian shows.

"On Bananas in Pyjamas the voices were an enormous problem when it went to America and Disney said 'we're going to have to dub the voices'," Grassby said.

"Then a pioneering legend Jerry Sachs, who was absolutely legendary in the American children's TV business, said 'you don't need to dub these voices, that's what bananas sound like'.

"In one fell swoop our entire problem was solved."

By Alyssa Braithwaite
November 14, 2008
The Daily Telegraph