Teletubbies

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Teletubbies is a BBC children's television series, primarily aimed at pre-school viewers, 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. The programmer's original narrator was Tim Whitnall. The programme first aired on 31 March 1997, was syndicated in the United States on the PBS network on 6 April 1998 and aired until June 19, 2005. [1] In 2001 production was canceled and it was announced that no new episodes would be produced, with the last episode being aired on 5 January 2001. However, a total of 365 episodes had been produced – enough for a full year.[2] The series was one of four PBS shows to be taken off its regular airing, the other shows being Boohbah (in 2005), Reading Rainbow (in 2006) and Mister Rogers Neighborhood (in 2008).

The programme rapidly became a critical and commercial success in Britain and abroad (particularly notable for its high production values), and won a BAFTA in 1998.[3] Teletubbies Everywhere was awarded "Best Pre-school Live Action Series" at the 2002 Children's BAFTA Awards.[4]

The programme revolves around the adventures of Teletubbies, Tinky Winky, who is purple; Dipsy, who is green; Laa-Laa, who is yellow; and Po, who is red. In the show, the four colourful Teletubbies play in the cheerful and fun Teletubbyland. They do things that little children like to do, such as rolling on the ground, laughing, running about, and watching real children on the televisions on their bellies. Mysterious pinwheels and telephones rise out of the meadow to show the days' activities. The sun, who has a baby's face, makes baby noises during the show, and it rises and sets to begin and end the show.

Although the programme is aimed at children between the ages of one and four, it has a substantial cult following with older generations, mainly university and college students.[5] The mixture of bright colours, unusual designs, repetitive non-verbal dialogue, ritualistic format, and the occasional forays into physical comedy appealed to a demographic who perceived the programme as having psychedelic qualities. Teletubbies was controversial for this reason, and also for a perception that it was insufficiently educational.[3]

The programme was also at the centre of a controversy when American cleric and conservative pundit Jerry Falwell claimed in 1999 that Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies, was a homosexual role model for children. Falwell based this conclusion on the character's purple colour and his triangular antenna; both the colour purple and the triangle are sometimes used as symbols of the Gay Pride movement.[6] However, despite an ensuing boycott,[clarification needed] the programme remained in production for two more years, and "Teletubbies say "Eh-oh!"", a single based on the show's theme song, reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1997 and remained in the Top 75 for 32 weeks, selling over a million copies.

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