German cartoon character, Werner, the star of three hugely successful feature films, is set to enjoy an international TV career.

Achterbahn, the company behind the character and all three films, has struck a joint venture agreement with the US' Platinum Studios to produce 26 English-language episodes for broadcast and the internet. Achterbahn said that the joint venture partners are also considering an English feature version in co-operation with a major studio inside the next three years.

"This arrangement represent the fulfilment of one of our most important development goals," said Achterbahn board director Jens Nieswand.

According to Philipp Hitzbleck, Achterbahn's marketing chief, the timetable will see this year used for adaptation of the particularly gutsy North German characters and situations for US and international consumption. Werner is a beer-swilling, motorcycle-riding and fun-loving goofball whose mates include a crusty plumber and a cop. Next year will see the development of stories and the beginning of production ahead of delivery scheduled for the end of 2001 or early 2002. Versions destined for TV will run at a commercial half hour, while webisodes of four or five minutes could be readied earlier.

Platinum Studios already owns about 1,000 cartoon characters and was involved in the transition of Men In Black from page to screen. Platinum CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg described the Werner project as "edgy yet mainstream."

The three Werner films (1990's Werner - Beinhart, 1996's Werner - Das Muss Kesseln and last year's Werner - Volles Rooaaa) have grossed over $100m with Volles Rooaaa attracting some 2.16 million spectators in Germany.