Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Monday, 22 December 2008

Pop star writes for singing sheep

The Baaas sheep family
Baaas will be broadcast in 22 countries on Al Jazeera Children's Channel

A former pop star has swapped song writing for scriptwriting, putting words into the mouths of a flock of sheep for a children's TV show.

Stan Cullimore used to write songs and play guitar for The Housemartins but now works on the programme, Baaas.

Appropriately for a man whose band had a single called Sheep and another called Me and the Farmer, Baaas is about a family of the farm animals.

"I thought it was a lovely idea when I was asked to get involved," he said.

With a second series now showing on the Welsh-language TV channel S4C, Baaas (or Meees as it is known in Welsh) is the first children's show from the UK to be co-produced with the Al-Jazeera Children's Channel.

The programme, about an extended family of all-singing, all-dancing, multi-racial sheep, is aimed at three to six year olds.

It aims to introduce them to a wide range of musical styles, along with modern issues, such as recycling.

Mr Cullimore, who has written more than 80 children's books since The Housemartins split in 1988, said he was pleased to be involved with the programme.

"The beauty is that although it's a family of sheep they're like all families, really, in Wales and in all family-based cultures," he said.

"I've got four kids and have just had grandkids who are just the right age to be watching this.

"So I've been thinking what have they been doing and that gives me ideas.

"I also write songs for kids TV - there's one in Baaas - and I test them out on the kids first. The grandkids always love it when one of granddad's songs comes on."

New Zealand next

Not very rock 'roll, though, for the ex-guitarist of a band who went to number three with Happy Hour?

"Strangely, I was chatting to an old producer this morning who weirdly is working on the next Bob The Builder series," he counters.

"Now we've all grown older and got kids it's a case of 'I see, I get it… Then your kids like what you do…'

"It's really a pathetic attempt at trying to appear to be a cool dad or a cool granddad, that's what it is."

Baaas is made in south Wales and was created by Cardiff-based Nia Ceiriog, who was also behind Fireman Sam.

In the New Year the 52-episode series will be broadcast in 22 countries from Africa to the Gulf on Al Jazeera Children's Channel.

"It's always a pleasure when things go well and it's really nice they've got this link up with Al Jazeera Children's Channel," added Mr Cullimore.

"I jokingly wonder whether it's not just because they're both family-based cultures - but there's a lot of sheep in both countries, too.

"They'll have to try New Zealand next time or Australia…"

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