Teletubbies is a BBC children's television series, particularly aimed at babies and preschool toddlers, produced from 1997 to 2001 by Ragdoll Productions. It was created by Anne Wood CBE, Ragdoll's creative director, and Andrew Davenport, who wrote each of the show's 365 episodes. Narrated by Tim Whitnall, the programme was a rapid critical and commercial success in Britain and abroad, particularly notable for its high production values; it won a BAFTA in 1998.

Although the show is aimed at children between the ages of one and four, the show was a substantial cult hit with older generations, particularly university students who bought the customary regulation T Shirts. "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!", a single based around the show's theme song, reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart in December 1997 and remained in the Top 75 for 32 weeks, selling over a million copies.

The programme features four colourful tubby creatures: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who live within a futuristic dome (the "Tubbytronic Superdome"), set in a landscape of rolling grasslands. The environment is dotted with unusually talkative flowers and periscope-like "voice trumpets". The only natural fauna are rabbits (although birds are often heard, particularly blackcap and wren) and it is always sunny and pleasant save for occasional blowy days, rain and puddles, and snow at Christmas time.

The Teletubbies are played by actors encased in large costumes, although the sets are designed so as to give no sense of scale. The costumes vaguely resemble bulky spacesuits, although the Tubbies appear not to wear clothes. They are instead furry, and have metallic silver-azure rectangular "screens" adorning their abdomens. These screens are used to segue into short film sequences, which are generally repeated at least once. When the series is shown in different countries around the world, the film inserts are to be tailored to suit local audiences (The British inserts are default).

The Teletubbies have the bodily proportions, behaviour and language of toddlers. The pacing and design of the show was developed by a cognitive psychologist, Andrew Davenport, who structured the show to fit the attention spans of the target audience. The repetition of practically every word is familiar to everyone who has ever worked with young children.

The Teletubbies speak in a gurgling baby 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, The Flowerpot Men).[citation needed] Tubbies are at the stage of understanding speech but not yet fully capable of articulating it, exactly like their target audience. They often simply groan in disapproval in situations 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 Tubby's name]; "Uh-oh", a common toddler response to anything untoward; "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 they get. Perhaps the most common exclamation, however, is "Big hug!" which one or more of the Teletubbies will invariably call for during the course of an episode, resulting in an enthusiastic group hug ("Teletubbies love each other very much", confirms the narrator).

The surreal environment is an evocation of a toddler's perception of the world, where they are ordered about and told to go to sleep, while wonderful and mysterious things happen without explanation. A prominent feature of each episode is a radiant sun that has an image of a smiling baby superimposed upon it. The baby in the sun occasionally laughs out loud in short bursts. To adults the laughter does not seem to be in response to any stimulus or humorous developments in the plotline of the episode.

The Teletubbies' diet seems to consist exclusively of Tubby Custard (which is sucked through a spiral straw bowl) and Tubby Toast (circular toast with a smiley face on it). One of their companions is the Noo-Noo, a sentient, self-propelled vacuum cleaner.

In 2001 production was cancelled and it was announced that no new episodes would be produced. It is often alleged that this was due to substantial pay rise demands by the previously anonymous actors portraying the Teletubbies. However, since the four years of production had exceeded the target audience's age span, it was deemed that continuation was unnecessary, and the existing 365 episodes will be played in re-runs for years to come.

In real life the Teletubbies' landscape was an outdoor set located 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.[1][2] It was reported that by 2002 the set had become overgrown, and pending the 2003 lease expiry it was expected to become farmland again.

(Dave Thompson, Mark Heenehan, Simon Shelton): He is the largest of the Teletubbies, is covered in purple terrycloth, has a triangular antenna on his head, is the clumsiest Teletubby, and is notable for the red luggage (described by the show as a "magic bag", but often perceived as a woman's handbag)...

(John Simmit): Male and green with a straight dipstick on his head. Favourite thing: black and white hat (used for role-playing). Loves to dance. Has a darker coloured face than the rest. Dipsy is the most contrarian of the characters, and will sometimes refuse to go along with the other Tubbies' group opinion. One example is the episode where Laa-Laa played the guitar. Both Tinky Winky and Po ran away, but Dipsy thought her playing was lovely.

(Nikky Smedley): Female, yellow, curly antenna. Favourite thing: orange ball. Very concerned with the welfare of all. Thinks she's the best singer. "Drama queen", party-girl and mother type.

(Pui Fan Lee): The smallest of the Teletubbies, and often the one who gets into innocent trouble, e.g. eating Tubby Toast in bed. Female, red, circular antenna. Favourite thing: scooter. Bilingual: Speaks (broadcasting country's language) and Cantonese. Problem solver and best "spider-fighter". Tomboy type. Of all the Teletubbies, Po usually becomes most involved with the audience. Loves attention. Known for occasionally disobeying the commands of the Voice Trumpets. She also loves her curly red circular aerial on her head. She has a scooter, which she pronounces "coota".

One of the Teletubbies, Tinky Winky, was the focus of a still hinted-at controversy in 1999 due to his carrying a bag that looks much like a woman's purse (although he was first "outed" by the academic and cultural critic Andy Medhurst in a letter of July 1997 to The Face). A February, 1999 article in the National Liberty Journal, published by Jerry Falwell, warned parents that Tinky could be a hidden homosexual symbol, saying "he is purple—the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle—the gay pride symbol." In one episode, Tinky Winky is also seen trying on some form of skirt. A spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., who licenses the characters in the United States, said it was just a magic bag. "The fact that he carries a magic bag doesn't make him gay. It's a children's show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish."

In an 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 Co., claimed the toy acutally said "Again, Again".

At the height of the show's popularity it was heavily parodied. Several episodes of The Simpsons contain references to the Teletubbies. Notable episodes include "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" where Milhouse not only watches the show but owns a pair of Teletubbies underpants; "Missionary: Impossible" in which the Teletubbies appear as part of an angry mob who work for PBS; "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" where a character called Gaa Gaa says "hurt everyone" which goes unnoticed because of the character's "cute name"; in "Lisa the Treehugger" the titles couch gag has the Simpsons dressed in Teletubbies costumes; and in "Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays" the Teletubbies make a live appearance in a parody of a Raffi concert, where the Teletubbies serve themselves Tubby custard and the predominantly toddler audience becomes excited at this seemingly simple act.

In the British sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, Alice Tinker has her bridesmaids dressed in Teletubby costumes for her wedding in the episode "Love And Marriage".

In the Family Guy episode "A Hero Sits Next Door", Stewie is momentarily hypnotised by the Teletubbies. In "Road To Europe", Stewie attempts to run away to join a London-based Teletubbies-style TV show, but he and Brian end up on a plane for Saudi Arabia. They later find out that behind-the-scenes, the apparently lovely cast turn out to be unruly Victorian Cockneys.

In the South Park episode "Ike's Wee Wee", elementary school teacher Mr. Garrison is watching Teletubbies while high on marijuana.

In King of the Hill, in an episode called "Daletech," a tv show resembling teletubbies is seen, with the 4 teletubbies hugging and giggling.

The Australian sketch show, Full Frontal, included many sketches of the fictional Telestubbies named Lager Lager, Pisspo, Drinky Winky, and Tipsy. These four Teletubby look-alikes emblazoned with Australian beer labels would wander around aimlessly committing crimes.

At the drag strip Santa Pod in the UK, one of the track cleaning machines is painted, lettered and referred to (over the public address system) as Noo-noo, offering a little light relief for spectators when there is debris or oil on the track.

On one episode of The Fairly OddParents, Timmy Turner's imaginary friend, Gary, stacks him with the stuff Timmy liked when he was five years old, including Teletubby toys.

On an episode of Grounded for Life, Claudia thought that Jimmy was high on drugs because he was laughing while watching Teletubies. Eddie then asked Jimmy why he was laughing. Jimmy responded "Oh. Po tripped over Laa-laa and fell in the flower bed." Eddie then explained it to Claudia.

In an episode of Arthur, Buster claims Muffy as "the fifth Teletubby" in "The Contest", the first segment of "The Contest/Prove It".Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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