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Cardiff’s Calon Brings Welsh Icon Back to the Screen

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Covid 19 may has caused understandable disruption for many tv production companies but Cardiff based Calon, like many animation companies has worked through to create its new series of Sali Mali – animated in 2D and now nearing completion, having been made entirely during the pandemic.

Based on the much-loved Welsh character, Sali Mali is a 26 x 5 minute series for preschool children made for S4C and the Young Audience Content Fund. It brings the character back to the screen after an absence of many years.   It is based on books first published in Welsh over 50 years ago and features the adventures of a Welsh girl and her pet jackdaw, piglet and mouse.  The first episode will be screened on S4C on Christmas Eve.

Rhys Ifans narrates the series in both English and Welsh, and Cerys Matthews sings the title song, also in both languages.  The series will be broadcast initially in Welsh on S4C and then rolled out internationally.

Calon had planned to animate the series in its studio in Cardiff Bay but had to quickly adapt when the pandemic started.  “Everyone has worked from home,” said Producer Robin Lyons, “except Rhys and Cerys who recorded in Covid-safe studios in London”.

“To revisit this song so many years apart was something else,” said Cerys Matthews. “I loved it then and I love it now though so much life has passed and changed from when I was first presented with this gem of a tune.”

“It was right in the middle of the earliest lockdown when I recorded this brand new version with its new words and arrangements.  I’ve got to say it was pure pleasure; it was a refreshing change of scene – to enter a studio to do something so familiar and enjoyable in the midst of something so unusual was great.

“We had to keep socially distant, of course, so we took it in turns to stand in the hot spot between the play back speakers to check the takes and some of the team members were with us remotely rather than in the studio itself. But all in all it was a very welcome reminder of what life will hopefully be like once we put this chapter behind us, fingers crossed.

Lyons admits that there were challenges. 

“We had to rely very much on the goodwill and the skills of our artists.  We weren’t able to support them in the way that we would if we were all in the studio together.  I’m very pleased with the result.  The style is simple but very charming and the storytelling is lovely.”

The series is thought to be the first in the UK to be made using Blender software.