Puffin Rock is a 'once in a lifetime’ opportunity for Beth McCafferty

  • By Keiron Turish
  • BBC News NI North West Correspondent

image source, The McCafferty Family

image caption,

Beth takes over from sister Kate, who voiced Oona for four years

A teenager voicing the hero of Northern Ireland’s first animated film says her role is a „once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Puffin Rock and the New Friends is based on the Emmy-nominated cartoon series.

Oona is voiced by Londonderry schoolgirl Beth McCafferty.

„It’s crazy to be part of a film,” the 14-year-old Lumen Christi College student told BBC News NI.

She knows the character of Beth well – Oona was previously voiced by her sister Kate, now a biochemistry student at Queen’s University Belfast.

After successfully auditioning for the role, Beth preferred to take up the mantle.

„She’s such a bubbly character. She’s so funny, positive, happy, and I feel like she’s so… like me. So it was really easy to play her,” Beth said.

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The film premieres in Derry on Saturday

The film premiered at the Brunswick Moviebowl in Derry on Saturday, ahead of a wider release across Ireland on 14 July.

Beth said the cartoon’s leap from television to the big screen was „such an incredible experience.”

He added: „I was really excited. You never think it’s going to happen.”

The film was produced by Derry-based media company Dog Ears and Kilkenny-based Oscar-nominated Cartoon Salon.

Its plot sees Oona working to save a wild Irish island inhabited by puffins and working to save a precious little egg.

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John McDaid of Dog Ears said the TV show’s reach was 'enormous’

Its themes are belonging, courage and friendship, he added.

„The TV show was bought all over the world – Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and then took it to all the other places in the world that weren’t shown on Netflix,” he said.

„It’s only been two months since the film was completed and already we’ve had a lot of interest,” John added. „So it’s already sold across Japan and Scandinavia. We’re talking to UK and French distributors and Canada – which is really exciting”.

He said the TV show’s reach was enormous – nowhere more so than across the Atlantic.

„Puffin Rock’s biggest fan base is actually America. There’s a beautiful energy to it and the novelty hasn’t worn off. You know, we’re sitting here on Bishop Street (in Derry) getting these messages from Colorado or New York or wherever about our little cartoon.”

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The movie features characters from the animated series working to save their island

Narrated by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, the television version of Puffin Rock has aired on RTÉ, Nickelodeon, Netflix and Tencent in China, and has been a huge hit since it first aired in 2014.

The series has been streamed over 170 million times in China alone.

It was nominated for an International Emmy Kids Award in 2017.

The film is made with the support of Northern Ireland Screen, Screen Ireland, RTE and BBC Alpha.

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