Local firm's Numberjacks help children's maths on CBeebies

PUBLISHED: 13:26 18 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

Chris Ellis with some of the Numberjacks

Chris Ellis with some of the Numberjacks

A TV production company has captured the imaginations of young children with the creation of an award-winning programme which combines education and entertainment. Open Mind Productions, which is based in Waxhouse Gate in St Albans, is the team behind the

A scene from Numberjacks

A TV production company has captured the imaginations of young children with the creation of an award-winning programme which combines education and entertainment.

Open Mind Productions, which is based in Waxhouse Gate in St Albans, is the team behind the Numberjacks series which became the first pre-school programme devised to help children with their early maths skills and it has been aired on CBeebies to great acclaim.

The show, which follows superhero number characters, attracts around 500,000 viewers each episode and in 2006 the Royal Television Society named it as the Best Educational Pre-School Programme.

The programme has also been a global hit and will be aired in about 30 different countries this year.

The Numberjacks in action

Numberjacks is the brainchild of Open Mind writer and cofounder Chris Ellis who came up with the concept of characterising numbers that live in a sofa but venture out into the real world to help children solve problems.

Chris was the director at BBC children's programmes before he left to set up Open Mind in 1989 with BBC film editor Roland Tongue, who is the Numberjacks producer.

They started out making solely educational programmes for schools TV but they began blurring the boundaries of education and entertainment when they launched a hit programme in 2002 called the Shiny Show.

Following extensive research and advice from education professionals, the pair launched Numberjacks in 2005 and many of the scenes depicting the characters' adventures were filmed in and around St Albans.

Chris, a former teacher, said that many children found maths scary but with a combination of comedy and adventure, Numberjacks introduced them to numbers, shapes and objects that helped develop their mathematical ability.

He described the feedback about the show as "fantastic" and puts its success down to a combination of elements including action, adventure and comedy.

But largely, Chris believes that children enjoy the show so much because it empowers them through learning with an entertaining format.

Chris and Roland now have 45 of the 15-minute Numberjacks episodes under their belts, a number of DVDs released and a range of associated merchandise lined-up for sale this year.

They are also scheduled to make more Numberjacks shows and are in the process of developing a new interactive website.

For more information about Open Mind visit www.openmind.co.uk

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