By Duvindi Illankoon Meet Jimi and his friends. They’ll take you on a rollercoaster ride of numbers, letters, fun facts and crafts in an interesting half hour segment on ITN, every Tuesday at 6.30 pm. You may be five or 25 but this show will keep you hooked for its sheer quality. Welcome to ‘Jimi [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Jimi’s world


By Duvindi Illankoon

Meet Jimi and his friends. They’ll take you on a rollercoaster ride of numbers, letters, fun facts and crafts in an interesting half hour segment on ITN, every Tuesday at 6.30 pm. You may be five or 25 but this show will keep you hooked for its sheer quality.

Team behind ‘Jimi and friends with Munchee’ - (left to right) -Shyam, Angelo and Shraepathy

Welcome to ‘Jimi and Friends with Munchee’ – a hundred percent homegrown English educational television programme for children. �Angelo and Shyam De Silva form the creative front of Technics Intermedia (Pvt) Ltd, writing, voicing and producing the show. Together with Shraepathy Attanayake (who handles the business side of things and also produces the show), they started working on the initial premise for ‘Jimi and Friends’ in 2010. Angelo, an Elocution teacher and corporate trainer having previously scripted another popular English show for children at the time, was well aware of the need for a quality educational programme in English that catered to children in the country.

“Even the cartoons that were being shown on local television were dubbed!” he says in dismay. “When we were younger cartoons used to be a tool that most kids learnt English from. It was something unconsciously done. But now the trend is to dub anything and everything so where are kids exposed to the English language? Only in the classroom where it’s forced down their throats.”

Despite what might be said to the contrary, English is still a vital tool for communication in a global context, he adds. “Like it or not English is the international language. Without it you’re hardly going to make it to top places even in your own country.” Recognising this need he set up Technics Intermedia together with Shyam and Shraepathi and began the grunt work for Jimi and Friends.

Scene from the show :Mariazelle sings Polly to sleep

The team conceptualised and created the bright and very colourful characters of the show themselves – curious school kids Jimi and Polly, investigative Fuzzy Frown, the exuberant Quincy Cool, the bumbling duo Naughty Nice and Peter Pebbles and superhero Captain Zero were all brought to life in a little house off Narahenpita, with everyone chipping in and working well into the night to get it just right. “My living room was a nightmare!” laughs Shyam, the whiz behind the creations of the show.

The first season of the show was filmed with 52 episodes being shot over a period of seven months. The team then went into post-production; the work involved at this stage is substantial and rather challenging, I’m told. “There are very few skilled animators in Sri Lanka,” says Angelo. “Just because you could make a box flip on a TV ad doesn’t mean you can make a tree come alive and walk and talk. We had to hunt down some of the best in the industry.”

It certainly looks worth it. In a small dark room above the studio three animators are fine tuning their work. In this room, post production involves animation, editing and audio. The show must occasionally be voiced over if required and often, 30 seconds of what you see on television involves days of editing and animation.

Aside from the seven main characters and the extras, they occasionally have some special guests on the show. One such guest was Mariazelle, who memorably sang Polly to sleep with an original children’s song. They’ve also had doctors, aircraft engineers and teachers making appearances in between the very many segments that they squeeze into that 22-minute time slot on ITN. An average show will include a number session – ‘Something’s Fuzzy’ where the delightfully grumpy Fuzzy Frown investigates a math or word related matter, ‘Story Time’ in Uncle Quincy’s shop with his talking books, Naughty Nice and Peter Pebbles pontificating on the baffling things of life, Polly chirpily reeling off some fun facts in general and of course the ‘Magic Hands’ segment where each week the kids are taught to make some exciting new craft.

Walking through their office it’s clear that this last segment is the favourite amongst their young fans. Bright handicrafts struggle for space on the office walls and perhaps the most intriguing fact is that most come from kids living in the outstation areas. These are certainly not substandard creations made from second-hand material; they’re beautifully crafted with top quality paper and are inscribed with messages from adoring little fans wanting more. It’s all about giving them a top class production, says Angelo. “In Sri Lanka we’ve got this unfortunate habit of toning things down for children’s shows,” says Angelo.

“With Jimi and Friends we’re looking to deliver a consistently top-class show because we don’t believe in second-hand, and it shows when these kids respond to that by sending in such beautiful creations.” The staggering investment in producing the show has all been worth it, says Angelo and Shyam. Their current viewership for the show (fully shot and edited in HD, mind you) hit a peak of 1 million a week according to statistics (they’ve only been on air since June 2012). Brands such as ‘Ritzbury Pebbles’ and ‘Munchee Nice’ have supported this one of a kind initiative as official sponsors.

Jimi and his friends have already sung and danced their way into the hearts of millions of little children islandwide and for the producers that’s the true meter of success. They’ve got one simple request to all parents out there – monitor their viewing and introduce something that won’t just entertain, but will also educate.

Jimi and Friends with Munchee is broadcast every Tuesday from 6.30pm on ITN. The repeats run on Sunday at 4pm. You can also find them on

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