8-year-old Randalstown actor is main character in new global animation

  • Belfast-based production company Sixteen South have sold their new children’s animation Odo to broadcasting giants across the world.

    The main character, Odo the owl, is voiced by eight-year-old Shea Brady from Randalstown, while Julia Dillon from Co Laois plays his best friend and shy orphan bird Doodle. 

    Targeted at three to five-year-olds, the show tackles topics such as mental health, self-belief, migration, racism, adoption and loneliness, and aims to help combat the rise in anxiety and depression in children by teaching them the importance of self-efficacy and belief in themselves.

    The series was created with Polish co-producer Letko and made its debut on Channel 5’s Milkshake! in the UK and Northern Ireland on Saturday 7 August. It will roll out across the Republic of Ireland on RTE later this year. 

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    Other international broadcasters that have picked up the show include KiKA Germany, HBO Max in the USA and Latin America, ABC Australia, TVO-Kids! Canada, Canal + France, SVT Sweden, NRK Norway, Mini Mini Poland and S4C in Wales.  

    Shea and Julia’s voices will feature in all of the versions in the English-speaking territories.   

    Sixteen South previously produced a show called Lily's Driftwood Bay, with its main character Lily being the first major kid's character with a Northern Irish accent to be broadcast all over the world without being redubbed, says Colin Williams, creator and showrunner at the production firm. 

    "We wanted to do the same with Odo, so we cast Shea in the lead role," he continued. 

    "It’s a series all about positivity, fun and unity - and so for Odo’s best friend, we wanted to showcase an Irish voice so we chose Julia to play Odo’s best friend Doodle. Their relationship is a strong symbol of cross-border Irish friendship - and very apt at this time of disruption and uncertainty”. 

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    Shea Brady said: “I did lots of auditions for Odo over Zoom and finally got to go to the studio for a final audition.  I did some voice acting for about an hour and when I got out of the booth, Colin the Producer told me I had an early Christmas present, and I got the part! I was very happy and proud of myself!”   

    Julia Dillon added: “When my mam told me I’d got the part I was REALLY excited and couldn’t wait to start! Doodle is really sweet, kind, funny, intelligent and cute but she can also be a little shy.  I think I’m quite nice too but I don’t really get shy around other people!” 

    “Developed, written and produced completely at home during lockdown, Odo is the antithesis to 2020, which has seen humankind at its best and its worst," continued Colin.

    "Through our little self-confident owl Odo and his diverse group of friends, we want to gently tackle important issues like migration, racism, inclusion and adoption but, ultimately, we want to show children that, like Odo, everything is possible - they can achieve their goals, while being caring and considerate of others at the same time”. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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