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|Format||Children's television series|
|Developed by||Ragdoll Productions for BBC Television|
Pui Fan Lee
|Opening theme||Teletubbies say "Eh-oh!"|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||365 (List of episodes)|
David G Hiller|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Original run||31 March 1997– 5 January 2001|
Teletubbies is a BBC BAFTA award-winning children's television programme, mostly made for toddlers, and produced from 31 March 1997, to 5 January 2001 by Ragdoll Productions, with a total of 365 episodes. The show is about the adventures of Teletubbies Tinky Winky, who is purple, Dipsy, who is green, Laa-Laa, who is yellow, and Po, who is red.
It was created by Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport, who wrote each of the show's 365 episodes. Narrated by Tim Whitnall, the show quickly became a success both with critics and with the public in Britain and other countries, and won its BAFTA in 1998.
The show remained in production for three more years, and released a single, "Teletubbies say 'Eh-oh!'", based on the show's theme song, which reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1997 and remained in the Top 75 for 32 weeks, selling over a million copies.
In the show, four colorful, mythlogical, magical, free-spirited, toddler-aged, tail-less doll-like creatures, known as the Teletubbies, play in the mythological and magical world of Teletubbyland. They do things that little children like to do, such as rolling on the ground, laughing, running about, and watching real children on the televisions on their bellies. A mysterious pinwheel, known as the Magic Windmill, stands at the back of the grassy, technological Tubbytronic Superdome, and microphonic periscope-like telephones, known as Voice Trumpets, rise out on the meadow or inside the Superdome. The Baby Sun, a mythological infant sun, makes baby noises during the show, and it rises and sets to begin and end the show. The land is covered with unusually talkative flowers and an anthropomorphic elephant-like vacuum-cleaner, known as Noo-Noo. The only natural animals are rabbits (although birds are often heard). The weather is always sunny and enjoyable except for some cloudy days, with rain and puddles, and snow at Christmas time. The Teletubbies are played by actors dressed in stuffy costumes, although the recording site is designed to give no sense of scale (weight). This is where the name "Teletubbies" comes from: tele is the British word for television, and tubby is the British word for stomach. These screens are used to switch into short movie sequences, which are generally repeated at least once. When the series is shown in different countries around the world, the movie clips are changed to fit the countries' main audiences. (The British versions are the originals.)
The Teletubbies' body shapes, actions, and ways of talking are similar to toddlers. The speed and design of the show was made by writer/co-producer Andrew Davenport, who shaped the show to fit the attention spans of the target audience. The repeating of just about every word is familiar to everyone who has ever worked with young children. There was also help from Shatarra Willis the stage manager who helped the show to become a success. The Teletubbies speak in a toddler-like language which is the subject of some controversy among educationalists, some of whom argue that this supposedly made-up talk is not good for children. (A similar complaint was made forty years previously about another children's series, Flower Pot Men.)
The Teletubbies are at the stage of understanding speech but not yet fully capable of repeating it, exactly like their target audience. They often simply groan in anger in times where a human toddler would throw a tantrum. The Teletubbies' catch-phrases are "Eh-oh" (hello), as in: "Eh-oh, Laa-Laa", to which Laa-Laa will respond, "Eh-oh, (other Teletubby's name)", "Uh-oh", a common response to anything that's not good, "Run away! Run away!", especially from Dipsy, and "Bye-bye" at least four times in a row. Laa-Laa, when flustered, will explode with "Bibberly cheese!", which is as angry as the Teletubbies get. But perhaps the most common exclamation is "Big hug!" which one or more of the Teletubbies will call for during the course of an episode, resulting in a big group hug. Their diet is mainly of "Tubby Tustard" (which is sucked through a circular straw) and "Tubby Toast". They are very messy eaters. In one episode, "The Tubby Toaster", the machine that makes Tubby Toast went seriously wrong and filled the Teletubbies' house with toast. Fortunately, one of their companions is Noo-Noo, a vacuum cleaner. Machines like Noo-Noo,the voice trumpets, and the televisions in the Teletubbies' stomachs were designed to show small children, who are born into a world surrounded by strange and powerful electronic gadgets, that technology is benevolent and helpful, not something to be afraid of.
The Teletubbies' landscape is an outdoor set in rural Warwickshire, England, at Sweet Knowle Farm, Redhill Bank Rd, Whimpstone, CV37 8NR (between Stratford upon Avon and Shipston on Stour, close to the River Stour). All the Teletubbies say "Bye-Bye" three times. The narrator bids each Teletubby goodbye, and they disappear, but reappear a moment later saying "Boo!". The narrator then says "No", (which they copy) and proceeds to say goodbye to each Teletubby again. The sun is then shown setting, and the Teletubbies each say goodbye again, before jumping down a hole in the roof of their house. Finally, one Teletubby says goodbye a fourth time - they pop out of a hole in the house and say "Bye-bye!". For special episodes, and at the end of the "Fun With The Teletubbies" cassette, all four Teletubbies say "Bye-bye" in this way. Many of the occurrences of the show, including the end sequence, and the scene preceding the short film broadcast on a character's tummy were shot only once, and the same scenes are used in each episode. A main feature of each episode is a sun that has a picture of a smiling baby on it. The baby in the sun occasionally laughs out loud in short bursts. In 2001, production of the show was cancelled and it was announced that no new episodes would be produced. (However, BBC ran a few in-the-can episodes from mid 2001 to early 2002.) However, the existing 365 episodes have been played in re-runs for seven years until January 2008.
Tinky Winky, (played by Dave Thompson, Mark Heenehan, and Simon Shelton), is the first Teletubby. He is the largest of the Teletubbies, is violet, and has a triangular antenna on his head. He is notable for a magic red hand luggage bag (described by the show as the Bag, but often described by other media as the Handbag) he always carries. He is also found dancing in a ballet-style skirt from time to time, which is also often worn by Laa-Laa.
Dipsy (played by John Simmit) is the second Teletubby. He is green and is called "Dipsy" because his horn looks like a dipstick. He likes his black and white furry top hat, which he once lost. Po finds it while riding her "scooteh", but instead of simply returning Dipsy's hat to the stricken Dipsy, Tinky-WInky runs around it for about ten minutes shouting "Dipsy Hat! Dipsy Hat!". Dipsy is the most stubbon of the Teletubbies, and will sometimes refuse to go along with the other Teletubbies' group opinion. His face and ears are notably darker (like the Rabbits). Dipsy is rumoured to have a romantic relationship with Po, although he may or may not be cheating with Laa-Laa.
Laa-Laa is the third Teletubby. She is yellow, has a loopy antenna, and is concerned with the welfare of all. She is the best singer of all the Teletubbies, and is a "Drama queen", party-girl, and motherly type. Her favorite thing is a bouncy, orange ball, which is almost as big as she is. She likes to sing and dance, and when flustered, may explode with "Bibberly cheese!"
Po is the red Teletubby. She is the fourth (and last) of the Teletubbbies, has an aerial that is the shape of a circle, is the smallest of the Teletubbies and is most often the one who always gets into trouble. She also says the word "Eh-oh" (hello), a word used by herself and the other three Teletubbies.
Po's favorite object is her scooter, which she calls "scooteh" (she also calls it 'cooter or 'cooteh). Po often wants attention and can sometimes be mischievous and naughty when she disobeys the commands of the "Voice Trumpets".
Po is bilingual, meaning she can speak more than one language. Those languages are English (the broadcasting country's language) and, especially for counting, Cantonese. (For example, "Yat, yi, sam," which means "One, two, three.") She is a problem solver and the best "spider-fighter". She is also a Tomboy type, and of all the Teletubbies, Po usually becomes most involved with the audience. She loves both attention and her red circular aerial on her head.
In the Teletubbies' house, she sleeps at the side of all the other Teletubbies and sometimes eats Tubby Toast while the others are sleeping. She is voiced by Pui Fan Lee, which is why she can speak in dual languages. (Supporters of the interpretation of Tinky Winky as pride symbol might take this as evidence.) The toy was recalled and it was revealed to have said "fidit, fidit," inspired by the Cantonese for "faster, faster."
Although many are unsure of Po's gender, or think she is male (probably because of her scarlet (red) color and tomboyish antics), she is clearly said to be female in several episodes, such as "Dad's Portrait" (Episode 216, first broadcast 1998) and "Numbers: 2" (Episode 30). Many refer to her as "he" (the same happens with Tinky Winky and Dipsy; even Noo-Noo), even though it is "she" (the same happens with Laa-Laa).
The Noo-noo (played by Mark Deans) is the Teletubbies' sentient automated vacuum cleaner-like Teletubby who cleans up after the Teletubbies ("Noo-Noo tidy up!"). It has been shown that the Noo-noo has extraordinarily large storage capacity and the ability to regurgitate any contents, often things that it should not have consumed in the first place such as the Teletubbies' beds' blankets or Dipsy's hat ("Naughty Noo-noo!"). The Noo-noo does not share the Teletubbies' enthusiasm for big hugs, resulting in Benny Hill style chase sequences around the dome when the Tubbies try to express their gratitude, during which the Noo-noo does a fine impression of a Formula 1 car engine in full flight. The Teletubbies always win, and give the Noo-noo a 'big-hug'.
Although non-sentient, the other machines of the Teltubbies' house known as the Tubbytronic Superdome also play a major role in many episodes. The Tubby Toaster is notoriously unreliable, and routinely either leaves a Tubby without their toast or buries them under a deluge of rounds. The dome's central console has a battery of knobs and levers with which a Tubby often chooses to amuse themselves ("Adjustments!"), although the outcome is normally limited to a variety of loud and surprising noises being generated. The central console is also home to the Tubby Sponges ("Wash, wash, wash. Wash, wash, wash. Tubby, Tubby, Tubby, Tubby. Wash wash wash"). Outside the Superdome, the Magic Windmill gives the signal to the Teletubbies that it is time to watch the Earth's children on either one of their T.V. screens, Magical Events or the Lion and the Bear or for Tubby Bye-Bye.
The show also features the Little Lambs, the Dog, the Butterfly, the Pink Spider, the Magic Crown, the Socks, the Vest, the Pants, the Blue Mittens and the Pink Boots and occasionally, the Trees, the Clouds and the Rabbits. (Although the "Birds" are planned to be in the TV series, but only heard off-screen.) The only physical cast members are John Schwab and Sandra Dickson, who play the Voice Trumpets, Penelope Keith, who plays the Bear with Brown, Fuzzy Hair, Eric Sykes, who plays the Scary Lion with Big, Scary Teeth and Jessica Smith who plays the Baby Sun, who is believed to have been around seven months old at the time of filming. Her giggle was included in the single Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!. Although not credited, this makes her technically the youngest person ever whose vocal appeared on a number one song.
The antenna shapes of each Teletubby provides mnemonic clues as to the character's names:
- Triangle: "Tinky Winky"
- Dipstick: "Dipsy"
- Loop: "Laa-Laa"
- "O" shape: "Po"
The Teletubbies' instruments
- Tinky Winky: saxophone, flute, bassoon, clarinet, piccolo, oboe, recorder, English horn, and contrabassoon
- Dipsy: trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, cornet, sousaphone, and euphonium
- Laa-Laa: xylophone, triangle, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, timpani, castanets, maracas, tambourine, and glockenspiel
- Falwell wrote about it in his National Liberty Journal.
A spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., who licenses the characters in the United States, said that it was just a magic bag. It's a children's show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish", he added. In an unrelated incident reported in 2000, a girl's Tinky Winky toy reportedly said "I got a gun". Kenn Viselman, then chairman of the Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company, said the toy was actually saying "Again, again!", a catchphrase from the show.
- Direct TV (1999-2000)
- KB Kids.com (1999-2001)
- Kellogg's Rice Krispies (1998-1999)
- Payless ShoeSource (2000-2001)
- Dannon Danimals (2001-2002)
- Playskool (2001-2004)
- Yo-Baby (2007-2008)
- Viewers Like You (1998-2008)
- Thank You (1999-2008)
- Literacy Today article regarding a study which found Teletubbies had a negative impact on toddlers in both vocabulary size and expressive language use.
- Sweet Knowle Farm is at coordinates
- http://crossroad.to/Q&A/Toys-Games/teletubbies.htm Teletubbies Q&A's
- "Singles : Artists : Age". Record Breakers and Trivia. EveryHit.com. http://www.everyhit.com/record3.html. Retrieved 2008-09-30. "Jessica Smith played the part of the 'Baby Sun' in the Teletubbies TV programme. Her giggle was used on The Teletubbies 1997 chart-topper "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!" Though not credited for this 'performance,' she is the youngest person to have appeared on a no.1 single. We are currently trying to ascertain her precise age at the time of recording; it is certainly less than 1 year old and thought to be around the 7 month mark."
- Dotinga, Randy (April 12, 2000). "Lawsuit to Target Teletubbies for Gun Talk". APBNews. http://web.archive.org/web/20000510155551/www.apbnews.com/newscenter/breakingnews/2000/04/12/teletubbies0412_01.html.
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- Official UK website
- Official USA website
- Official PBS website
- Official BBC/ CBeebies website
- Teletubbies at AllRovi
- Teletubbies on IMDb