IT’S goodbye to The Den after almost 25 years in one or more guises, after RTÉ yesterday unveiled its new range of children’s programmes.
As part of a major redesign of content for younger viewers, children’s programming will be split between two new, so-called “channel blocks” on RTÉ 2 when the new service is launched next Monday.
RTÉjr is aimed at children aged 6 and under, while TRTÉ will target children aged 7-15.
RTÉ’s digital radio station, RTÉ Junior, will be rebranded as RTÉjr Radio, while associated content for TV and radio will be available on the RTÉ website.
Explaining the scrapping of The Den after almost a quarter of a century, RTÉ’s commissioning editor for young people’s programming, Sheila de Courcy, said the new direction was designed to meet “our youngest audiences’ needs in a way that reflects their changing appetites as they grow and develop psychologically and intellectually”.
She added: “For six and under we provide a safe, fun magical place in RTÉjr, where they can watch, listen to and engage with content which introduces them to a myriad aspects of sensory experience.”
Ms de Courcy said the new programme schedule ensured that young audiences were never more than 30 minutes away from an Irish production.
RTÉjr will see regular kids TV presenter, Emma O’Driscoll, join a new puppet, Ógie, on one of the station’s flagship children’s programmes, Hubble, every morning.
Another character, Reuben, will also act as a regular link between various programmes, while animated series, Garth and Bev and Fluffy Gardens will also return to screens this autumn.
Young viewers will also learn how to grow, prepare and eat healthy meals in a new pro- gramme set in an allot- ment entitled Grubz Up!
For older children, TV highlights will include a daily show, Elev8, with several new presenters, including Moldovan-born, Diana Bunici.
Another new home- produced series is The Rumour Room, with discussion, comedy sketches and music.
Other new shows include Super Crew, a search for Ireland’s hottest teenage hip hop dancers, and Mission Beach USA, where eight Irish teens undergo junior lifeguard training in Florida.
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