It's Time for the Teletubbies!

The Teletubbies is a BBC children’s TV show aimed at pre-school aged children. Starting from 1997, it ran on many TV networks around the world, winning a BAFTA in 1998. However, few children’s shows in recent years have attracted as much controversy as the Teletubbies has.

In 1997, two award-winning children’s television producers, Andrew Davenport and Anne Wood, developed the idea for the Teletubbies through many interviews with nursery school teachers, children, and linguists. They developed the show in an attempt to teach toddlers the skills they would need as they entered into pre-school and beyond. The show quickly became wildly successful.

In addition to accusations that the show had psychedelic connotations due to its off-beat dialogue, off-the wall concept, and use of bright colors, it also faced accusations from angry parents that one of the Teletubbies was homosexual.

The show focuses on four characters that live in a dome called the Tubbytronic Superdome. The dome has flowers that talk, rabbits, and audible birds. It’s always sunny except for a few days when it rains and during Christmas time when it snows. What makes the Teletubbies special is that they have television screens adorning their abdomens. The Teletubbies themselves relate to young children because they act like them. They speak in a special baby language (also controversial for many speech therapists) and often communicate using only sounds because, although they can understand what’s being said to them, they cannot yet speak back.

Tinky Winky is the first Teletubbie. The largest, he’s purple and the symbol on his head is a triangle. He often carries his “magic bag,” a red piece of luggage. Tinky Winky was the character that caused the most controversy because his purple triangle was associated with the Gay Pride movement and so was his “magic bag” because some insisted it was s purse.

Po is a female Teletubbie. Considered the “baby,” she is red and her antenna looks like a stick that’s meant to blow bubbles with. She loves her scooter, which she calls “Scoota” and she is the naughtiest of the Teletubbies. The writers wrote her to be bilingual so she also speaks Cantonese.

Dipsy is the green Teletubbie whose symbol is a dipstick. He owns a white furry top hat and he is thought of as the “stubborn one” who refuses to go along with his friends. As his face is noticeably darker, many insist he is a “Black” character.

Laa-Laa is another female Teletubbie who is yellow and has a curly antenna. She loves to sing and dance and is very mothering towards the others. She has a giant orange bouncy ball that’s as large as she is.

The show has other characters as well. Voices are often added as is the character of Noo-Noo, who is shaped like a vacuum and is the Teletubbies’ housekeeper and guardian. It communicates through sucking and slurping noises. The show has no other physical characters; voices are used when needed, but otherwise it is the four Teletubbies and Noo-Noo.

Although dogged by controversy, Teletubbies was one of the most-watched children’s shows of all time.