Teletubbies

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Teletubbies
Created byAnne Wood
Andrew Davenport
Developed byRagdoll Productions
Darrall Macqueen Ltd[1]
StarringOriginal series:
Dave Thompson
Simon Shelton
John Simmit
Nikky Smedley
Pui Fan Lee
Revival series:
Nick Kellington
Rebecca Hyland
Jeremiah Krage
Rachelle Beinart
Voices ofOriginal series:
Toyah Willcox
Eric Sykes
Mark Heenehan
Revival series:
Jane Horrocks
Jim Broadbent
Fearne Cotton
David Walliams
Rochelle Humes[2]
Narrated byTim Whitnall[3]
Daniel Rigby[4]
Opening theme"Teletubbies say 'Eh-oh!'"
Country of originUnited States
United Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes365 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)David G. Hiller
Vic Finch
Production location(s)California
Marea Britanie
Running time25 minutes (Original Series), 15 Minutes (Revival Series)
DistributorPinewood Studios, CBeebies, Ragdoll Productions, Darrall Macqueen Limited, Nick Jr. Productions
Release
Original networkNickelodeon (U.S.)
BBC (UK)
Picture format480i
Original releaseMarch 31, 1997 (1997-03-31) –
2001
Other websites
Website

Teletubbies is a British BBC children's television series appropriate for pre-school viewers. The Teletubbies are also known as “Meme Demons” when the screen is black and white. It was produced from 31 March 1997 to 5 January 2001. It was produced by Ragdoll Productions. Ragdoll's creative director Anne Wood CBE and Andrew Davenport created the show. They wrote all 365 episodes. The show had two narrators; Tim Whitnall (for the United Kingdom and Canada) and Rolf Saxon (for the United States). Teletubbies was also aired internationally in the United States on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Public television aired reruns until 29 August, 2008, when it was pulled from the schedule.[5]

Although the production of the original 365 episodes were cancelled on 5 January 2001, a new series aired in 2015.[6]

The story[change | change source]

The show takes place in a grassy, floral landscape populated by rabbits with bird calls audible in the background. The four Teletubbies live in an earth house known as the "Tubbytronic Superdome." Located in the ground, it has two entrances: a hole at the top, and a large semicircular (shaped like the half of a circle) door at the dome's foot.

The Teletubbies are four colourful humanoid puppets (aliens; due to having antennae); four multicolored toddlers. They have TV screens in their stomachs and antennas on their heads. They live with a number of anthropomorphic objects (objects with human-like characteristics) such as the Noo-noo, a blue vacuum cleaner, and the Voice Trumpets, a set of speakers shaped like shower heads.

The show is created for infants, with bright, colourful and family-friendly design. Also, it aims to educate young children of transitions that can be expected in life.

On every episode, the Teletubbies do similar activities, like playful interactions between the Teletubbies and the Voice Trumpets, or the mishaps caused by the Noo-noo. That also includes the footage of live children displayed on the screens in the Teletubbies' stomachs, and the magical event that occurs once per episode. The activities are different from each episode but still very similar.

Characters[change | change source]

The Teletubbies[change | change source]

Tinky Winky[change | change source]

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 red magic bag 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[change | change source]

Dipsy (played by John Simmit) is the second Teletubby. He is lime green and is called "Dipsy" because his straight antenna looks like a dipstick[source?]. He has a black and white furry top hat that he likes a lot. Dipsy is the most stubborn of the Teletubbies, and will sometimes refuse to go along with the other Teletubbies' opinion. His face and ears are notably darker.

Laa-Laa[change | change source]

Laa-Laa is the third Teletubby. She is yellow, has a swirly 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. Laa-Laa is one of the two girls in the teletubbies show.

Po[change | change source]

Po is the red Teletubby. She is the fourth of the Teletubbbies, and has an antenna that is round. Po is the smallest of the Teletubbies and gets into trouble the most. She also says the word "Eh-oh" (hello), a word used by herself and the other three Teletubbies.

Po's favorite object is her blue and pink scooter, which she calls "'cootuh"(, but also "'cooter" or "scootuh"). 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 two languages. Those languages are English (or the broadcasting country's language) and, especially for counting, Cantonese. For example, she says "Yat, yi, sam," which means "One, two, three." She is a problem solver and the best "spider-fighter". Po is also a Tomboy type. Of all four Teletubbies, she usually becomes most involved with the audience. She loves both attention.

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, who can speak Cantonese as well.

Although many are unsure of Po's gender, or think she is male, probably because of her scarlet/red color and tomboyish behaviour, she is explicitly female in several episodes, such as "Dad's Portrait" (Episode 216, first broadcast 1998) and "Numbers: 2" (Episode 30).

Character Names[change | change source]

The antenna shapes of each Teletubby provides clues as to the character's names:

  • Triangle: Tinky Winky
  • Dipstick: Dipsy
  • Loop: Laa-Laa
  • "O" shape: Po

Other Characters[change | change source]

Noo-Noo[change | change source]

Noo-Noo (played by Mark Deans) is the Teletubbies' sentient automated blue vacuum cleaner. He cleans up after the Teletubbies ("Noo-Noo tidy up!"). It has been shown that Noo-Noo has extraordinarily large storage capacity. He also has the ability to spit out any contents, often things that it should not have consumed in the first place such as the Teletubbies' blankets, foods, or favorite things. Then he is called "Naughty Noo-Noo!"

Noo-Noo does not share the Teletubbies' enthusiasm for big hugs, resulting in Benny Hill style chase scenes around the dome when the Tubbies try to express their thankfulness, during which Noo-Noo does an impression of a Formula 1 car engine in full flight. The Teletubbies always win and give Noo-Noo a 'big-hug'.

Supporting Characters[change | change source]

Although non-sentient, the other machines of the Teletubbies' house known as the Tubbytronic Superdome also play a major role in many episodes.

  • The Voice Trumpets are devices resembling periscopes. They are also guardians of the Teletubbies. They live outside in the fields. They sometimes come out of the ground to talk to the Teletubbies. They can play games with the Teletubbies, usually games such as hide-and-seek.
  • The Sun Baby (played and voiced by Jess Smith) appears at the beginning and the end of each episode. Her job is to wake up the Teletubbies.
  • The Tubby Toaster is very unreliable, and often either leaves a Tubby without their toast or buries them under heaps of toast.
  • 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 TV screens, as well as announcing Magical Events, the Lion and the Bear or 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. The "Birds" are planned to be in the TV series, but only heard off-screen.

Physical Cast[change | change source]

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 Jess Smith who plays the Baby Sun, who is believed to have been around seven months old at the time of filming.[7] 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 Teletubbies' instruments[change | change source]

Each of the Teletubbies plays a number of instruments.

Controversy[change | change source]

Tinky Winky[change | change source]

Tinky Winky started a still talked-about controversy in 1999 due to his carrying a bag that looks like a woman's handbag.

He was first called gay by the academic and cultural critic Andy Medhurst in a letter of July 1997 to The Face, and gained the interest of Jerry Falwell in 1997 when Fallwell said that the character was a "gay role model." Falwell wrote about it in his National Liberty Journal. He said that in the Washington Post "In/Out" column someone had written that lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres was "out", or uncloseted, as the main gay model, while the Tinky Winky was "in", or closeted. Falwell said it was because of the Teletubby's purple color, the "purse" (British for Handbag), and the triangle antenna which all represented homosexuality. Also, Tinky Winky dances in a tu-tu, which supporters of the theory may take as evidence.

This caused many Christians to boycott Teletubbies because it made them think that Teletubbies support homosexuality. A February 1999 article in the National Liberty Journal, published by evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell, warned parents that Tinky Winky could be a hidden homosexual symbol, because "he is purple, the gay pride colour, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle, the gay pride symbol".[8] A spokesman for The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company, who licenses the characters in the United States, said that it was just a magic bag. "The fact that he carries a magic bag doesn't make him a homosexual. 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.[9]

Po[change | change source]

A girl's talking Po doll was thought to be saying "faggot, faggot" as well as "fatty, fatty". Supporters of the interpretation of Tinky Winky as gay pride symbol might take this as evidence as well. The toy was recalled and it was revealed to have said "fidit, fidit," inspired by the Cantonese for "faster, faster."[10]

Sponsors[change | change source]

In the United States of America, the show is sponsored for broadcast on television; this is a list of the companies who have sponsored the show.

  • Nickelodeon Home Entertainment (1998-2008)

References[change | change source]

  1. Franks, Nico (6 November 2015). "Nickelodeon takes Teletubbies reboot". C21 Media. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  2. "It's time for series two of Teletubbies!". Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  3. "Teletubbies voices revealed for new series". British Broadcasting Corporation. 7 April 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  4. Fullerton, Huw (16 June 2015). "From BT adverts and Teletubbies to Undercover - the screen journey of Daniel Rigby". Radio Times. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  5. "The Trouble With Teletubbies". Commercialexploitation.org. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  6. "CBBC wants first tenders | News | Broadcast". Broadcast now.co.uk. 29 June 2001. Retrieved 10 July 2010.
  7. "Singles : Artists : Age". Record Breakers and Trivia. EveryHit.com. Retrieved 2008-09-30. Jess 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.
  8. France-Presse, Agence (11 February 1999). "National News Briefs; Falwell Sees 'Gay' In a Teletubby" – via NYTimes.com.
  9. Dotinga, Randy (April 12, 2000). "Lawsuit to Target Teletubbies for Gun Talk". APBNews. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. http://crossroad.to/Q&A/Toys-Games/teletubbies.htm Teletubbies Q&A's

Related pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]