Discussion in 'Cult TV' started by Mel O'Drama, Mar 31, 2017.
Today marks the 20th anniversary!!
Today is a momentous day. Today, the Teletubbies turn 20. They’re looking well for it, too. Unlike the vast majority of 20-year-olds, the Teletubbiesown their own home, have a live-in cleaner and spend their days drifting along on the winds of serendipity, unencumbered by debt or anxiety or the nagging sense of inferiority that defines their generation. They’re the Rich Kids of Instagram, essentially, only they’ve inexplicably chosen to wear even fewer clothes.
It’s hard to imagine a time before Teletubbies. Their arrival on BBC2 at 10am on 31 March 1997 changed kids’ TV forever. Before then, any characters – especially full-body characters, such as Bungle from Rainbow or Greenclaws – tended to be accompanied by human beings for security. Most shows were just about adults dryly explaining things to an unseen audience, in English. One show was just about a rolled up piece of paper that a bloke stuck on the end of his finger. Fingermouse, it was called. It was rubbish.
Teletubbies was different. It was brightly coloured. It was airy. It was shot outside, so it had the slightest drab tinge to it. The characters communicated in what sounded like a stream of unbroken nonsense. If you were me, a 16-year-old student bunking off college in 1997, you would quickly convince yourself that you were watching a deliberately esoteric Japanese import, like Kure Kure Takora or Gamera.
Soon the press caught on to this weird new show, and there were scandals about handbags, and helicopters buzzing Home Dome, and untold treasures offered to anyone who managed to snap the Teletubby actors without their heads on. Undaunted, the show went on to spawn a million-selling hit single and hundreds of millions of pounds in merchandise sales. It became the first western kids’ show to be broadcast in China. The Simpsons parodied them. They were everywhere, a true phenomenon. And it was just a show about four big toddlers blinking into a camera. Its success was impossible to comprehend.
It’s even more difficult to comprehend now. Now, whether you like it or not, all children’s shows have a little Teletubbies DNA in them. They’re more rooted in developmental education, and less afraid to directly address their audiences in a language they’ll understand. They’re bright and fun and, in the case of In the Night Garden, even more queasily off-kilter. The shock of the new has long been dimmed, thanks to everyone’s willingness to copy the Teletubbies a little bit. To this day, this is perhaps the show’s greatest badge of success.
Plus, if Teletubbies came along today, people just wouldn’t notice. All the BBC’s pre-school programming is squirrelled away on its own channel deep down on your EPG now and, unless you have kids, you’re much less likely to accidentally stumble across it than when it was part of BBC2. They were completely a product of their time, utterly impossible to replicate any more.
If you care to watch them, new episodes of Teletubbies are still being made. The Teletubbies have different actors inside them now – Dipsy is played by Bistan the space monkey from Rogue One, for instance – and it’s very elaborately green-screened in a studio in Twickenham. The Noo-Noo is a different colour, and the episodes are half as long, but the old Teletubby magic is undeniably still there.
This is wonderful to see. The world has moved on immeasurably since 1997. Technology has quickened. Television has fragmented. But the Teletubbies are still there, exactly where they should be, laughing and hugging and blinking into camera. When the original series first aired, my efforts to secure a work experience placement on the Teletubbies set were thwarted by a foot-and-mouth outbreak. Now I watch it with my son. The first thing he ever smiled at, other than either of his parents, was a Teletubbies episode. For that alone, the show will always mean an awful lot. Here’s to the next 20 years.
I always found their incoherent babbling to be strange considering the show was aimed at very young children. Almost like it was anti-learning. I had young cousins who would watch it and then imitate them and sound really stupid. Why would you aim a show at those only leaning to speak to be based on characters that couldn't speak?
To quote Madonna... I found them reductive.
Very true. I've never got baby talk, but it does seem a large percentage of adults default to it when speaking to children. Perhaps toddlers found it comforting on that level.
I hate when adults speak to children like that. I have an uncle who is a teacher and he told me even young children find it patronising and not genuine. I noticed when talking to kids he would always try and be at eye level with them and speak to them as if they were just little adults. He wouldn't make them feel as if he was bigger or better then them. He'd speak to them as he would to adults. Obviously within reason and with a little adjustment but not baby talk.
When I think about it, the entitled, whiny, overly sensitive late teens of today probably have the Teletubbies to blame for them being they way they are. lol
It was a horrible show - however it was also pretty genius.
Tenn Ome born in 1998 and Teletubbies was still the number one show, so it's what she watched and loved.
When I say genius I'm talking about how clever the show was at gaining attention of a baby. As a parent you try all kinds of things to grab their attention and it starts off with colours and then sounds. You play with your baby, you do things to make your baby smile and giggle and if this programme came on the TV your baby is instantly drawn to the sound and colours on screen.
It doesn't matter about speech at that age, it's more about communicating with the baby and it will never work if you start having a real conversation. You're helping them to make their own sounds and you find yourself mimicking their sounds (even if you don't agree with that, it's hard not to) to get a reaction from them.
There are times when you're changing their nappy or trying to feed them and they are trying to wriggle away from you, next thing you find yourself saying "eh-ho!" and you've cracked it, you've got their attention.
I only think the Teletubbies can be damaging if you find your child is still watching and trying to talk like them at the age of 6,7,8....
I remember one cousin would watch it, and also other things like Bear In The Big Blue House, and Out Of The Box that were on the Disney channel I think. Whenever I had to look after him I made a point of not watching Teletubbies. lol I think he was about 2 or 3 at the time. I guess for kids under 2 it would have been better and I can see it's point there.
I think Teen Ome moved on to the Tweenies by the time she reached two and then it was the Disney channel, but that came with something even more disturbing....
I just got a serious bout of anxiety watching that! Real fear!
OMG that horrific evil sunbaby demon:
She's all grown-up now:
And clearly still a servant of Beelzebub.
I wouldn't be surprised if Sue Ellens creepy psychiatrist Dr. Elby was behind this.
That sun demon baby does look like his seed doesn't it?
The actor who played Tinky Winky has died.
Pish-tosh! Fingermouse starred in two shows. Fingerbobs. And it’s spin-off called Fingermouse. So it was two shows about rolled up pieces of paper that two different blokes stuck on the end of their fingers. And while Fingermouse the spin-off show can be a bit annoying and rubbish (and where is the glove anyway? Couldn’t they afford it any more?), Fingerbobs with Yoffy and Fingermouse is a lovely show. And anyone who disputes that will be shot. With the camera of my choice. This is shoddy journalism! I shall complain.
Finger Mouse always made me feel like I had smoked 78 joints and took acid. And that was before I even knew what drugs were.
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