Nickelodeon Orders 'The Substitute' to Series, Picks Up 'Top Elf' Holiday Competition

Makeup - Jace Norman in THE SUBSTITUTE on Nickelodeon - Publicity-H 2019
Bonnie Osborne/Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon is giving a full series order to The Substitute after two specials performed well for the kid-focused cabler. The Viacom-owned network is also adding a holiday-themed competition called Top Elf to its roster of unscripted shows.

The two shows fall under Nickelodeon's new unscripted division. The Substitute is in production on its 10 episodes and set to premiere in October, while Top Elf begins filming its five-episode order in September for a holiday-season debut.

“Giving our audience a range of unscripted content in different formats is one of our top priorities," Rob Bagshaw, executive vp unscripted content at Nickelodeon, said Wednesday in a statement. "Top Elf is an irresistible opportunity to celebrate the holidays with a uniquely comedic approach to a high-stakes competition. Our first new format from this division earned high marks from our audience, so we’re very pleased to order The Substitute for a full series."

The Substitute features stars who go undercover — with help from special-effects and makeup artists — as professionals in various fields of work, surprising kids at school, camp and other locations. At the end of the day, the organization where each star works gets a $25,000 donation.

Henry Danger's Jace Norman and YouTuber (and soon-to-be NBC late-night host) Lilly Singh starred on the specials, which aired in April and May and averaged about 810,000 viewers for their initial airings. The Substitute is produced by Industrial Media's The Intellectual Property Corporation; Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman and showrunner Todd Hurvitz executive produce with Nickelodeon's Jessica Brown.

Top Elf will bring seven kids with exceptional design and building skills to the North Pole for a series of holiday-themed challenges. The participants will compete to have their wish lists fulfilled — not for themselves, but for members of their communities.

Mike and Tim Duffy of Ugly Brother Studios created the series and executive produce with Jimmy Fox of Main Event Media, an All3Media America company. Bob Schermerhorn, showrunner Lisa Fletcher and Nick's Paul J. Medford and Mandel Ilagan are also exec producers, and Michael Pearlman will direct.

The two series join an unscripted and game-show lineup at Nick that also includes reboots of Double Dare and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, The Dude Perfect Show, Crashletes, Keep it Spotless and Lip Sync Battle Shorties. The network also has greenlit the competition show America's Most Musical Family, hosted by Nick Lachey.