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One of the most lovable and popular children characters currently shown on television, Little Charley Bear was only released last year and yet it has already enjoyed success with the new series airing on the CBeebies channel and toys selling at shops.
The popular teddy bear has also enjoyed some DVD releases and with this week’s release being part of a big collection of merchandising, these six new episodes will appeal to children while also having some great appeal for grown-ups to enjoy watching with them.
Each of the six episodes included start with a white, blank screen with only a toy box sitting in the middle, with the narrator (voiced by James Corden) asking if Charley Bear is there and the teddy bear pops up from behind the box or playing with his toys in different scenarios that he is imagining.
We then enter his imagination to see him pretending to be another person, from an Antarctic adventurer to a zoo keeper in a different and colourful location with his toys coming to life and being part of Charley’s imagined stories. But there would always be a situation where he would either have to help or make amends with someone, reach a particular goal or to simply explore new things about the world that young children will also feel.
The ending of each episode sees his imaginative adventures finish and the narrator says goodbye to him, with Charley waving back and continues to enjoy playing with his toys.
All six of these episodes are really pleasant and charming stories that offer a surprisingly wide option of storytelling that has made the series and the main character really appealing towards young children.
As far as animated children’s shows go, this is not the most detailed use of computer animation compared to other CBeebies shows like the Octonauts or 3rd and Bird, but it is only because the settings, locations and some of the toys featured use a very simple design layout that doesn’t require a massive budget or too much detail. Even with Charley’s imagination coming to life, the animation team made it simple and recognizable enough so that children can just focus on the characters.
Character design is made in the same simple and recognizable style that really makes them each stand out in their own rights, especially with the star of the show. From Bellarina the ballerina doll to Frozo the toy penguin to Rivet the robot, each of the characters are given their fair share of screen time on all the episodes, being part of Charley’s imaginative stories.
Some grown-ups and people interested in animation might have some issues with the overall presentation, but the animation does well with the scripts and make the characters appealing towards children.
While young audience members will have enough appeal for the series, there is something for grown-ups to enjoy and that is the narration by James Corden.
The actor and comedian previously did a good job doing the voice of Mouse in both The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child and he does another good job as the narrator with a calm, approaching voice work and as he is also the only speaking character, he really does a good job at bringing the storytelling to homes in the UK.
Some people who are new to this series might be a bit surprised, especially if they have only seen his work inGavin & Stacey and A League of Their Own and it’s great to see him working on different projects. This might even encourage them to watch these episodes with their children rather than putting the DVD on to keep them occupied.
Overall, the elements for both children and grown-ups blend together well enough that families might be invested in Little Charley Bear together rather than being solely for young children, something that the Big Barn Farm DVDs last week didn’t quite have. Who knows, you might even find yourself saying to the screen with Corden “Are you there, Charley Bear?”