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Little J & Big Cuz: Kids TV

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Animated image featuring an elderly Indigenous woman, Indigenous boy and girl, and a black and white dog inspecting green emu eggs in a nest on red soil with trees in the background.
Little J and Big Cuz on another adventure, with Nanna and Old Dog to guide and protect them. (Image courtesy of NITV)
3 May 2019

The 2018 Logie Award winning children’s TV show, Little J and Big Cuz is a hit with families all around Australia.

Starring Miranda Tapsell and Deborah Mailman in the title roles, the show won the Most Outstanding Children’s Program award.

It first aired on NITV in 2017, telling the stories of 2 Indigenous children aged 5 and 9 who live with their Nanna and their pet Old Dog.

All their friends are nearby, and school is just a stroll away, along a bush track.

There is magic in Nanna’s backyard from where many of the adventures begin. By stepping through gaps in the fence, Little J and Big Cuz can find themselves in Saltwater, Desert or Freshwater Country.

Nanna and Ms Chen, the school teacher, are important to their adventures. Both characters provide guidance in solving problems and giving direction.

The show engages, entertains and informs all children and particularly speaks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in urban, rural and remote locations.

The 11-minute episodes are designed to demystify Indigenous culture for non-Indigenous children and demystify school for Indigenous children.

The idea for the show came in 2013, after research by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found a need to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children as they transitioned from home and childcare to school.

An important feature of the show, and a reason for its success is the use of Indigenous languages.

Ned Lander is the series producer.

‘On Series One, the show was re-voiced into six languages; Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara, Djambarrpuyngu, Yawuru, Walmajarri and palawa kani, the reclaimed Tasmania composite language,’ Ned said.

‘The scripts are translated by local speakers working with Indigenous and non-Indigenous linguists.’

‘The casting is done from the local community and recorded in the community or a studio if one is readily accessible. The programs are then edited and modified to fit the particular language and the edits are sent back to the community for checking.’

A long term goal for the show is to have it re-voiced into most, if not all of Australia’s Indigenous languages.

The response from viewers has been overwhelmingly positive, the common theme being one of gratitude for its message and ability to capture the attention of its target audience.

Feedback has come from communities through school principals, linguists and individuals with their points noted and where possible, incorporated into Series 2.

Series 2 is expected to be released on NITV and the ABC late 2019.

Find out more

SBS funded Little J & Big Cuz in conjunction with Screen Australia, Screen Tasmania, ACER and Film Victoria.

The ABC has co-commissioned Series 2 with NITV which will be shown on both of their live to air services as well as their catch-up and on-demand services.

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