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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March 2005, 12:20 GMT
Animated series to promote Irish
Colin and Cumberland aim to make learning Irish fun
A cigar smoking dog is to spearhead BBC Northern Ireland's latest addition to its Irish language output with a new animated television series and interactive website.

Colin & Cumberland is an introduction to the Irish language through television, radio and online.

Launched on Monday, the website is is aimed at giving 18-40 year olds a taster of the Irish language.

The television programmes encourage the viewer to learn some key Irish phrases.

Cumberland, an Irish speaking sausage dog, is sidekick to Colin, a DJ on an Irish radio station despite the fact he cannot speak the language.

The Colin & Cumberland concept was initiated by BBC Wales and separate local versions of the series will be broadcast there, in Welsh, and also in BBC Scotland (in Gaelic).

"The project is aimed primarily at viewers who have found the idea of learning a whole new language a bit daunting before," said Kieran Hegarty, BBC Northern Ireland Head of Interative & Learning.

"But it will also be a valuable resource for people who have just started Irish language courses, particularly those lacking confidence.

"This is not a structured language course. The content is elementary - greetings, ordering drinks, asking personal questions and so on.

"The website's language content is graded and progresses from single words and phrases to more structured patterns.

The first programme in the television animated series of Colin & Cumberland - comprising two five-minute episodes and 10 one-minute 'shorts' - will be broadcast on BBC ONE NI at 2245 GMT on Wednesday, 16 March.


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