SVT, the Swedish equivalent of the BBC or PBS, wants children’s programmes it buys from abroad to have a good gender balance, and has therefore changed the sex of several characters – mostly animals or machines.
Thus Jett from Korean kids’ hit Superwings – a male airplane in the original – has discovered his female side in the Swedish version. Similarly, Ted the truck in Canadian animation Trucktown has switched out a chromosome for his move over to Sweden, where she is known as Linn.
Pontus Torpvret, purchasing manager at SVT’s children’s channel Barnkanalen, told Aftonbladet that they chose which characters to change with an eye to giving girls strong role models: “Girls who climb trees, girls who build go-karts, girls who go on adventures. Like girls actually do in real life,” he said.
Likewise, the channel aims to offer male characters who show a sensitive side.
Not all foreign production companies agree to the sex changes, with authors often objecting to their characters being tampered with. Now, SVT sometimes makes the gender bending a condition of buying the series at all.
Swedish kids’ TV is well know for its progressive attitudes. SVT received worldwide attention last year for a video featuring dancing genitalia called Snipp and Snopp. This was followed up with a rap about periods starring a dancing tampon.
Last month it was announced that the eponymous hero in the Swedish version of comic book icon the Phantom might also become a woman.