Five's Milkshake! is to introduce a “softer touch” with a “whimsical” series of hand-drawn animated shorts, about a girl who is friends with a pig and a unicorn.

Impossible TV is producing Castle Farm, a 26 x 5-minute preschool show based on work by Irish illustrator Corrina Askin. It blends 2D drawings with 3D CGI animation and follows the adventures of Penny, a little girl who lives on a farm populated by familiar animals and more unusual ones, who can all talk.

Five director of children's programming Nick Wilson said: “The setting has an ageless feel. You won't be able to tell if it is contemporary or medieval.”

Peter Scott is the executive producer, John Higgs is the series producer and the lead animator is Peter Addington.

The broadcaster is fully funding Castle Farm and expects it to give the schedule a “gentle, softer” touch when it launches next year.

Wilson added that he is currently looking for a “big, bold, colourful” 26 x 15-minute drama for 2011, and a “strong, story-led” animation for late 2010. “I'm not talking low-cost animation here. I'm talking high-end CGI or model animation that we would co-produce,” he said.

The strand has also ordered four indies to produce a family-based follow up to its pre-school documentaries Big School and Play.

Sixth Sense Television, Two Hand Productions, Lambent Productions and Two Sides TV will each produce 10 x 7-minute shows about families in Wales, Scotland, Sussex and Norfolk. Family (working title) will go out in 2010.