by Lesley Apps
MAGIC was unfolding this week in a backyard not too far from your own, in the same garden where we were first introduced to the now world famous Dirtgirl and her friends in 2009.
That animated children's television series Dirtgirlworld, conceived by creative duo Cate McQuillan and Hewey Eustace, has picked up award after award since its inception.
The series also became the launching pad for a range of interactive and educational platforms, webisodes, and even an Opera House musical.
And while that series will live on in the land of TV repeats, this month the partnership reached the pinnacle of their Dirtgirl dream, a live action television series commissioned by the ABC.
The secret filming of the new Get Grubby TV series has this week been rolling in the backyard garden-cum-film set of its creators in the Dirtgirl heartland of Whiporie, 40km north of Grafton.
The small team of ridiculously talented people, including the film editor of Dr Blake and Miss Fisher's mysteries series, have been working relentlessly in this productive pocket of bushland over a tight 17-day schedule to create the 20-episode series commissioned by the national broadcaster.
The new series introduces a whole new line-up of mini characters who will join Dirtgirl and her good friends Scrapboy and Costa the Garden Gnome for special episodes.
Leading the charge of the new characters is Mini Dirtgirl who will make her debut appearance on one of the series' early episodes.
A recent search saw 762 children from across the country, including about 40 from the Clarence area, apply for the handful of new special episode characters which also included Surfer Girl and Bee Boy.
But like most of the crew and characters working on this awesome production, they found their Mini Dirtgirl right here on home soil.
Four-year-old Danielle Hay from Baryulgil was on set this week shooting her very first scenes, decked out in identical gear to her 'full-sized' persona, the character defining red wig, pink dungarees and bright yellow gumboots.
Cute doesn't go anywhere near describing the pair as they trudged around the sunflower filled garden filming a segment with Dirtgirl's new all-girl band (another new arrival featuring some of Australia's best female musicians).
Danielle's mum Bec Hay said Dirtgirl was her daughter's hero so the chance to be a part of the program was unbelievable.
"They just told us to come down to do a test screen shot. I had no expectations but then they told us she had the role. Not many people even get to met Dirtgirl so we are pretty lucky to be a part of this amazing process."
Cate McQuillan and Hewey Eustace said they produced a pilot episode for Get Grubby TV at the end of 2014 and being given the go ahead to produce a full series was a dream come true.
"Having a live action TV show has been our ultimate goal. Creating a program that has even more substance to its content and will appeal to a broader young audience is what doing this show was all about. We want to keep encouraging kids to get outside again."
As for Dirtgirl herself, the Grafton raised actor Maree Lowes said it was great to play a live character in a real garden.
"Kids will get to connect with real characters this time. They will also be able to make a live connection with the values of the show which is golden. And it's just so much fun filming in the real world. I got to ride the flying fox seven times in a row today."
- The debut series of Get Grubby TV including the Mini Dirtgirl episode will go to air on the ABC in September this year.