'The Deep'.

The aquatic animated adventures of the Nekton family are returning to the ABC after the broadcaster greenlit a fourth season of The Deep.

Based on the graphic novel series from author and playwright Tom Taylor and co-creator James Brouwer, the program follows a family of underwater explorers who live in a state-of-the-art submarine named the Aronnax.

Australia’s A Stark Production will produce 13 new half-hour episodes alongside previous collaborator Canada’s WildBrain, while also welcoming Singapore’s Infinite Studios to the process.

ABC is the commissioning broadcaster, working with Singapore’s Mediacorp and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), and receiving support from Screen NSW.

A Stark Production CEO Avrill Stark told IF WildBrain and Infinite were “fantastic partners” to have on production.

“The series director, Trent Carlson, and the team at WildBrain have been on this voyage for three seasons and it’s been an absolute pleasure,” she said.

“We’re thrilled that Infinite has come on board in season four and have dived into the animation with a wonderful passion for the show.  

“What’s unique about The Deep production is the way we are all working so well together as ‘one team’, even though we’re spread across the globe.”

International broadcaster partners CBBC (UK), WildBrain’s Family Channel (Canada), Super RTL (Germany), and SVT (Sweden) have also already committed to the new episodes, building on the success of the previous seasons, which have been sold to more than 130 markets.

ACTF handles distribution rights for Australia and New Zealand, with Infinite Studios managing rights for Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and China. WildBrain oversees the remainder of the international sales.

ABC head of children’s content Libbie Doherty said The Deep was an iconic ABC ME series.

“Our loyal fans have been patiently waiting for the next adventure full of non-stop thrills, amazing marine life and, of course, the inimitable spirit and humour that The Deep is famous for – no doubt the Nektons will continue to exceed all expectations,” she said.

“Our deepest thanks to all our local and global financing partners who are joining us again for more adventure.”

In season four, the Nekton family have finally found the fabled city of Lemuria, unlocking secrets and tantalising mysteries. But the greatest discovery they’ve made is also the most shocking: proof that Ant and Fontaine’s grandparents made it to Lemuria. The Nektons had given up on ever seeing their loved ones again – but now they have hope.

Stark believed the show’s mix of adventure and mystery, along with its universal themes, had allowed for greater connection with worldwide audiences.

“It’s been a big hit with families who enjoy co-viewing – they see the Nektons as a family they would like to belong to,” she said.

“So in some territories, it’s played in a prime time slot for this reason.

“Then of course the series is set in the vast ocean and much of the storytelling is anchored around actual sea creatures; that has intrigued audiences.”

A Stark Production will handle scripting, storyboarding and design, and original music score of the new episodes, with WildBrain managing editorial, directors, voice recording, and post-production. Infinite Studios will oversee layout, animation, FX, lighting, and composition.

Mediacorp head of English audience Sapna Angural said the series underscored the value the company placed on content collaborations.

“We are confident in the capabilities of Singapore’s creative team in delivering local stories that will resonate with the local and regional audience,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with some of the most prominent names from across the globe on this exciting journey to bring the fresh new season of The Deep.”

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