Emmy Kids nod for Spelling Armadillo

Suhaimi Yusof is jaded teacher Mr Nasri in Spelling Armadillo.
Suhaimi Yusof is jaded teacher Mr Nasri in Spelling Armadillo. PHOTO: OAK3 FILMS

Singaporean children's TV show Spelling Armadillo has been nominated at the 4th International Emmy Kids Awards.

The 70-minute telemovie, a collaboration between the Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), MediaCorp and Oak3 Films, was nominated in the category of Kids: TV Movie/Mini-Series along with three other nominees from the United Kingdom and Netherlands.

It is the first production in South- east Asia to be nominated at the awards, which was launched in 2012 by the International Academy of Arts and Sciences to recognise excellence in children's television programming produced and initially aired outside of the United States.

Spelling Armadillo is the story of how an 11-year-old boy named Tom and a bunch of friends who are thrust into a spelling competition have to overcome self-doubt and make emotional life choices with their teachers and peers. It aired on Channel 5 in January this year.

Child actor Matthew Loo, 11, who plays Tom, is joined by established actors such as Suhaimi Yusof as Mr Nasri, a jaded teacher; Wong Li Lin as Ms Toh, the optimistic principal; and Darren Lim as Jason, Tom's dad.

Director Glenn Chan was surprised at the nomination and that their effort was so well received among the families in Singapore who tuned in, based on the positive feedback about Spelling Armadillo both on Facebook and Twitter.

The 39-year-old says: "Kids nowadays are smart, so this show was created to cater to the more intelligent kid audience of today and it worked. It also catered to families as you see both perspectives in the telemovie, with the adults and kids' perspectives coming into play, creating a wholesome experience for the family."

Ms Lim Suat Yen, Spelling Armadillo's executive producer and co-founder of Oak3 films, says the theme of the telemovie is the rediscovery of self-confidence.

Ms Lim, 43, says: "Kids today have to make difficult decisions in life. Spelling Armadillo explores the challenges they face when pursuing their dreams. The spelling competition is a perfect setting for our audience to relate to, as there is an actual spelling bee competition organised by Singapore Press Holdings."

A sequel, about Tom bringing together his team once again to win another spelling competition, is in the works. It is slated to air on Channel 5 in the first quarter of next year, with actor Paul Foster joining the cast.

The 4th International Kids Emmy Awards will be held on April 5 in Cannes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Emmy Kids nod for Spelling Armadillo'. Print Edition | Subscribe