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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Teletubbies by Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport in 1997.
TELETUBBIES
Experienced and award-winning children’s television producers Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport developed "Teletubbies" after extensive informal interviews with nursery school teachers, linguists, and young children. This research was conducted to ensure the effectiveness of "Teletubbies" in teaching preschoolers skills that can contribute to school readiness and success.
"Teletubbies" is supported by a comprehensive outreach effort for parents and caregivers to introduce the series’ concepts and their role in the effective education of our youngest viewers. The Teletubbies are Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po. They are the 4 Teletubbies, they live over the hills and far away in a place, a very magical land which is a part modern technological land and part a sort of nursery rhyme land where magical things can happen. Teletubbies
They have lots of friends with them in Teletubbyland, their best friend of all is, is the Noo Noo. The Noo Noo is a very useful friend to have because he’s their vacuum cleaner character who goes around cleaning up after them and sorts out the Tubbytronic Superdome which is the place where they live, and keeps everything spick and span in there. They live a very, very happy life, a very active life.

They run about, they play, they dance, they, eat and drink tubby custard and tubby toast. They go to bed when they feel tired, they wake up when they are ready to wake up, they live to all intensive purposes a normal happy life, and from a child’s point of view quite an idyllic life.

Ther are four people responsible for the amazing success that Teletubbies has achieced. They are Anna Home from BBC (who commissioned a new children's show),   Anne Wood from Ragdoll Productions (series co-creator and head of Ragdoll Productions), Andy Davenport from Ragdoll Productions (series co-creator, the Teletubbies writer and a trained speech therapist), and Alice Cahn from PBS (director of children's programs, responsible for bringing Teletubbies to the USA).

According to Andy Davenport this is how the idea for Teletubbies come about. It’s always difficult to say where the idea comes from because it insinuates that there is only one idea, that Teletubbies just came you know like that as an idea. It was a product of an awful lot of work, with myself and Ann coming from different directions, with different things we were working on at the time, and different pre-occupations at the time. And and it’s only once you start working together that the whole thing develops out of your, your past experience.

But from my point of view, I had worked at Ragdoll for sometime and Ann had made it known that she was open to receiving ideas for programmes and at that stage we were talking a lot about potential for a programme for older children. And so I presented Ann with basically, my own version of a format for a sitcom for 7 year olds. There were lots of things going on in that format which which I’m sure I wouldn’t like to be reminded of. But two of the characters in there were these two space men who lived at the bottom of someone’s garden in a magic wood. And they were basically NASA spacemen.

One of the things that fascinated me about NASA spacemen is that there’s all this high technology involved in putting a spaceman inside a space suit and sending him up into space and landing him on the moon and it’s the most advanced technological thing that ever happens. And then when they climb out of this space pod that’s landed on the moon what did they look like but a little toddler toddling around a new world for the first time. And there is a sort of absurd kind of enjoyable irony in that I suppose.

And so I was trying to work on the basis that these spacemen were in fact all dressed up like this because they were going out into the world to discover new things, and it was very important. So what was going on with these characters was that they would be presented everyday with a different thing which to a child watching it would be very obvious; because it would be something like a standard lamp or a hoover or something like that. And these spacemen would use all the powers of their deduction to work out what these things were. And there were different characters, one was slightly more courageous than the other, and the other one wanted to stand back and that. So these two characters were in there, and and they were very easily surprised by things and fell over all the time, and when they were worried about things they hugged each other.

And these two characters as I say were, were part of what was a much bigger format. And so I when I was showing this to Ann, Ann seemed to home in on these two characters, she seemed to like these two more than anything else.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
History of Toys  from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Four Happy Teletubbies (Out of print.)
Paperback: 22 pages / Scholastic Paperbacks; (October 1998)
Meet Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po, the adorable technological babies with TV screens in
their tummies. The characters in these story books are from the first PBS television program created
specifically for young children, ages one and up.

The PBS Companion: A History of Public Television
by David Stewart, David Steward / Hardcover - 224 pages / TV Books Inc - (May 1999)
Details the history of the landmark programming and creative personalities in the development of public television--from "Masterpiece Theatre" to "Sesame Street".

ON THE SCREEN:
Teletubbies: Blue Sky: Fantastic Friends and Springtime Surprises
DVD / PBS / 58 min. on 1 disc / Item no: TTUB622 / Less than $14.99
Blue sky! It's Springtime in Teletubbyland and the sun is shining! The Teletubbies go for a fun walk outside. Then, they fly a kite in the wind. The Teletubbies love to watch the clouds. It's a day to come outside and play with Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po!

ON THE WEB:

Time for Teletubbies
The official home for Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po. Games, activities and information for pre-school Teletubby... The BBC Education Teletubbies Website. BIG HUG the story of Teletubbies
(URL: www.bbc.co.uk/education/teletubbies)
Teletubbies at PBS Online

Teletubbies is a celebration of children's play. In a world of technology, this series introduces young children—ages one and above—to the wonders and magic of high-tech in a safe and friendly way. Public Boadcsting System Teletubbies web site.
(URL: www.pbskids.org/teletubbies/)
Teletubbies Mother
Anne Wood founded Ragdoll Production's in 1984 with the ethos that 'Ragdoll Works For Children.' Since then, Ragdoll has produced more than 1,000 programmes aimed at young children.

(URL: www.ragdoll.co.uk/annewood.html)

Teletubbies Father
Teletubbies co-creator and writer. Andrew is the sole writer of the first 365 episodes of Teletubbies produced, making him probably the most prolific and most translated children's writer in TV.

(URL: www.ragdoll.co.uk/adavenport.html)


DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are the Teletubbies, stars of a major daily pre-school television show for BBC starting on Monday March 31 1997.   Developed by Anne Wood, Creative Director of Ragdoll Productions and Andrew Davenport, writer.
  • For the PBS broadcast, several significant changes were made to adapt the series to American needs and tastes. For example, the Narrator and Voice Trumpets have American accents. These changes make Teletubbies in America uniquely our own while retaining the elements that have made it such a hit in Britain.

 

Teletubbies characters and logo copyright Ragdoll Productions (UK) Ltd 1996. Teletubbies, Tinky  Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po and Noo-noo are trade marks of Ragdoll Productions (UK) Ltd.

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised February, 2005.
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