Celebrities including TV presenter and broadcaster JLS star-turned farmer JB Gill, reporter Ashley John-Baptiste, husband and CBeebies star Joanna Adeyinka-Burford enjoyed a slice of Saint Lucian sunshine on 4th February at a special screening for BBC CBeebies’ BAFTA-winning show JoJo & Gran Gran.
Hosted by BBC Studios Kids & Family and the Saint Lucia High Commission, the event at the Curzon Cinema in London’s Soho offered a sneak preview of the ground-breaking show’s special episode – It’s Time to Visit Saint Lucia – which is set to air on CBeebies on Sunday 12th February.
Compered by Joanna Adeyinka-Burford, there was a warm introduction from the High Commissioner for Saint Lucia to the UK, His Excellency Anthony Severin. Following the screening, cast members took to the stage including Taiya Samuel who voices JoJo (who recently won a BAFTA for Best Young Performer for her role) and Llewella Gideon who voices Great Gran Gran, Cathy Tyson who voices Gran Gran, Tameka Empson who voices Mummy, Ashley Joseph who voices Maccy and who also co-wrote the episode, and Frank Skully who voices Mister Yellow.
The event saw guests taste Creole food and enjoy a performance from the Lucianites Quadrille group. Children were entertained with JoJo & Gran Gran themed activities while face-painters were on hand to spread some colourful cheer. Families also enjoyed some delicious cocoa tea, bakes and banana bread which gave more Saint Lucian flavour to the day.
Ros Attille Head of Preschool Development BBC Studios Kids & Family said: “Family and heritage are central to the premise of JoJo & Gran Gran and we are proud to have produced this special episode to explore Gran Gran’s Saint Lucian roots. We are thrilled that so many families and children have joined us to enjoy a warm Saint Lucian welcome on this cold February day.”
The High Commissioner praised the series for communicating and celebrating the importance of community values and said it was a wonderful opportunity for viewers to see these in action in Saint Lucia.
JB Gill said: “I loved it, it was great to see Saint Lucia and the mountains, I come from the Caribbean so it’s nice seeing it represented.”
Celebrating Gran Gran’s Saint Lucian heritage and featuring the voices of BAFTA winner Cathy Tyson (Gran Gran), Tameka Empson (Mummy), Ben Bailey Smith (Daddy), Floella Benjamin (Mrs Alfred) and BAFTA-winning Taiya Samuel (JoJo), the extended episode sees the family arrive in Saint Lucia to see Great Gran Gran (Llewella Gideon) receive a special medal of honour from the Island’s Mayor Paul (Rudolph Walker).
After arriving at Great Gran Gran’s house, JoJo realises that she has left her suitcase, and more importantly her cuddly toy Panda, in Mr Yellow’s van. Frantically retracing Mr Yellow’s steps, the family have a whirlwind tour of Government House, the local market and Mrs Alfred’s clothes shop before tracking Panda down.
The day finally dawns for Great Gran Gran’s award ceremony but a storm has struck overnight, putting the event at Government House under jeopardy. Can JoJo and her family find a way to still hold the ceremony and give Great Gran Gran a day of celebration and dance to remember?
Interspersed with the animated story, live action sequences show Saint Lucian children sharing their feelings about their own “Gran Grans”, while young Saint Lucian boy Tamari and his family enjoy a delicious picnic on the beach.
JoJo & Gran Gran is produced for CBeebies by BBC Studios Kids & Family Productions, in association with animation production studio A Productions and inspired by characters created by Laura Henry-Allain. Showcasing the special relationship between grandparent and child, the series reflects kids’ lives and inspires real-world discovery and play. Since its debut in 2020, the series has picked up several major gongs including a Broadcast Award, a Kidscreen Award and a BAFTA.