HARI’s Sophie “Kido” Prigent

Since its founding in 2006, HARI has produced a variety of award-winning TV series that have entertained kids around the world. Recent productions include Grizzy & the LemmingsMystery Lane and The Weasy Family, all of which, in some ways, appeal to the bridge audience, made up of children slightly older than the preschool demographic but still younger than 6. Sophie “Kido” Prigent, head of sales, talks to TV Kids Weekly about the role this bridge programming plays in the TV landscape.

***Image***TV KIDS: Is bridge a demographic that you feel is often overlooked in kids’ programming?
PRIGENT: Bridge shows tend to be well catered for. The demand for content that can be enjoyed by the whole family has increased since Covid. And bridge content has seen a high level of demand as it expands the reach from preschoolers to older kids, enabling siblings to share a moment in front of the screen without fighting for the remote control!

Without qualifying as “bridge,” per se, our show Grizzy & the Lemmings (targets kids 6-plus) works very well for preschoolers and older kids alike. This is something not only the fans and their parents appreciate, but it’s also very convenient for channels to have the flexibility to program the show in their preschool slot. We know that several of our partners do this, including Narrative Entertainment in the U.K., which broadcasts seasons one and two on POP (kids 6-10), POP MAX (boys skewed, 7-15) and Tiny Pop (kids 4-6).

TV KIDS: How does bridge programming differentiate itself from preschool shows? What does it add to the kids’ programming landscape?
PRIGENT: What distinguishes bridge from preschool is the educational angle. For a preschool show, it’s important that this age group can learn something and that the storytelling is adapted accordingly, therefore simplified and sometimes didactic. In a bridge show, the entertainment comes first. We also know that the standard practices some networks commit to as part of their social commitments to the audience are more flexible in bridge content than they are in preschool.

For The Weasy Family, our slapstick show for which we partnered with the BBC, we had to find the angles that would fit their bridge audience. That takes minor adjustments but doesn’t distract from the fun. Instead of grabbing an electric line when they’re bouncing in the air, our heroes can grab some clotheslines, for example.

Thinking of another differentiating point, The Weasy Family deals with learning emotional intelligence. That differentiates from a preschool show that, again, would focus on more basic learning, making it less family-friendly. With The Weasy Family, we want to reach the same wide audience as Grizzy & the Lemmings.

Mystery Lane, our series à la Scooby-Doo meets Sherlock Holmes, could actually also qualify as a bridge show in the sense that there is a dual narration (one for kids, one for adults). Our heroes are Clever, a very intelligent hamster capable of solving cases that baffle even Scotland Yard, and Bro, her hotheaded younger brother. While the tone and narration mainly serve the sophisticated storyline, Bro often reformulates in simpler language, which makes the show more inclusive, yet it’s [barely] noticeable.

TV KIDS: What does a bridge show need to stand out today, both for broadcasters and platforms and for audiences?
PRIGENT: Entertaining and bringing people together in front of the screen is the purpose of the kids’ and family media landscape these days since families spent so much time together during the pandemic. Our mantra is “to bring people together through stories that inspire laughter and optimism,” and in The Weasy Family, we have innovated the genre by combining slapstick comedy with a heartwarming narrative, with emotional stakes at the core. This brings plenty of entertainment and resonates with families thanks to the cute and fun factor in the father-daughter relationship that drives the story.

TV KIDS: What are some themes you would like the bridge content you are producing to tackle?
PRIGENT: “Fun for all and all for fun” is our tagline for Grizzy & the Lemmings, and for us, that means our stories should entertain the widest audience possible while caring about the youngest eyeballs! We are also very focused on developing positive character traits. For example, the lemmings, who are always very enthusiastic about anything, have a “don’t worry, be happy” [attitude] mixed with YOLO (you only live once) attitude.

TV KIDS: How are you expanding diversity and inclusion in the bridge space, both on-screen and off-screen?
PRIGENT: Our characters are animals without a gender, so our shows have wide appeal. With different personalities facing certain situations and problems, our characters show their uniqueness through their reactions at the beginning of an episode and how they make progress toward the end. That implies that all types of initial behavior, linked to some peculiar personalities, are represented.

Fun fact: In Mystery Lane, Clever, the main character, was supposed to be a male when Josselin Charier and Antoine Rodelet started writing the show. But they changed their minds and decided that Clever would be a female character in order to bring a bit more diversity to the leading roles. However, nothing in the personality traits of the character changed to “adapt” to the new gender, so we didn’t fall into the girly clichés. We didn’t make her a tomboy. The script simply didn’t change!

Off-screen, we strive to foster an environment that nurtures creativity and encourages seamless teamwork. We believe that a team reflecting the diversity of society is essential in delivering on our mission: to create entertainment for all.

TV KIDS: How has the proliferation of global SVODs, AVODs and FAST channels that cater to kids impacted the marketplace? What kinds of programming are these on-demand platforms seeking?
PRIGENT: A lot of these platforms have been licensing in bulk for the past few years, but since there’s a proliferation of channels happening now, especially in the AVOD and FAST space, they need more recognizable IPs as a window display to attract and retain the audience.

We attained full exposure for Grizzy & the Lemmings, as the series [has] continuously appealed to children and their parents since its launch in 2016. And then thanks to the series establishing itself as a top performer, [it delivers] a guaranteed audience for our newer partners.

TV KIDS: What digital extensions do you employ when developing and distributing bridge properties?
PRIGENT: With YouTube, we create original clips and compilations to accompany our content and sustain the appetite of our viewers. [We’re] counting 1 billion viewers per year for Grizzy & the Lemmings.

We’re working on strategies around TikTok and Instagram to spread the word, especially as we’re now growing our licensing and merchandising programs.