Jellyfish Originals, the kids and family content division of global animation & VFX studio Jellyfish Pictures has secured the rights to adapt author and presenter Dermot O’Leary’s book series, Toto the Ninja Cat.

Based on the popular book series by O’Leary and illustrated by Nick East, this  new comedy series is inspired by Dermot’s own cats and tells the story of Toto, a partially sighted cat “with razor-sharp senses, a nose for danger and a crime-busting spirit of adventure.”

The series incorporates themes of friendship, inclusivity and winning in the face of adversity.

Writing duo, Huckerby & Ostler (Peter Rabbit, Moomin Valley, Danger Mouse) head up the TV adaptation. Dermot O’Leary will also act as Executive Producer, alongside Dee Koppang O’Leary, whose credits include Bridgerton, The Crown, The Split and Rivals.

The deal was negotiated by Karen Lawler, Head of Media Rights & Audio at Hachette Children’s Group (HCG), and Natalie Llewellyn, Managing Director – Animation & Originals at Jellyfish Pictures.

Natalie Llewellyn said, “Toto is a strong, empowering female lead who demonstrates positivity, adaptability, and resilience. We’re delighted to be working with Dermot and HCG and can’t wait to bring Toto’s hair-raising adventures to life, encouraging kids everywhere to embrace their inner ninja!”

HCG’s Karen Lawler added, “The HCG Media Rights team have loved Toto since her first day in print. We are committed to fostering strong relationships between book creators and producers, working with the best in the business and pairing our books with the right partners – and we know Jellyfish Pictures will be the purr-fect match for Toto!”

Dermot O’Leary said: “Toto the Ninja Cat is about to go on her next big adventure, being brought to life in her own animated children’s series. I had so much fun writing the books and so I can’t wait to see the world I created on the page unfold on the screen. I look forward to working with Jellyfish Pictures and Hachette on making this a reality.”

The books have proved to be a global success with Hachette Children’s Group publishing five books to date, selling over half a million copies worldwide and translating the titles into 17 different languages.

Jellyfish Originals manages the development, rights management, financing and commercial exploitation of original animated properties. Their inaugural original series, Stan & Gran, co-produced with Jollywise Media, was recently greenlit by Milkshake! UK and goes into production early 2024.

Pippa Considine

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