Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po – they have been such a wonderful part of my childhood! Ragdoll’s Teletubbies – the TV series for kids broadcasted during the late Nineties by BBC was, indeed, a big time hit. Its popularity was huge, which had eventually earned it a Bafta award and promoted it to a cult status amongst people of all ages.
Of course, we all remember those vibrantly colored aliens, their non-verbal dialogues and all of their quirky actions upon the green flower valley they dwelled in. But, besides this fantasy, there were a hell lot of other things about the series that had gone unnoticed or were neglected and disremembered in the course of time. In a short walk down memory lane, let’s look at what we have missed during the entire Teletubbies show so far.
Did you know that the iconic hill house is now gone?
Sadly, it’s no more. The series was filmed upon a certain farm in Wimpstone, Warwickshire with the Teletubbies house decorated with flowers and windmills. But, after this BBC show was terminated, the set was pulled off, leaving only the grassy framework standing for the people to enjoy. But, because this expectation of enjoyment led to only some irksome trespassing, the owner, Rosemary Harding decided to turn the hill into a pond and run an aquatic shop out of it instead.
And that the Teletubbies were actually humans dressed in giant costumes?
Yes, it’s true. Tinky Winky, the three-year old purple alien, was played by famous ballet dancer and choreographer, Simon Shelton. The role was originally offered to actor Dave Thompson, who was later sacked because he misinterpreted the character to be gay. The hat-decked green alien, Dipsy, was played by stand-up comedian John Simmit. Bright yellow Laa-Laa was played by dancer Nikky Smedley and actress Pui Fan Lee was chosen for the role of the cute, red and ever-shy Po.
The height, the costumes, the vacuum cleaner, the rabbits…
Tinky Winky was a 10 feet tall character. Dipsy was 9, Laa-Laa 8 and Po, about 6 feet. The costumes were heavy and hot, made of a fabric material known as Babygro. The actors playing the roles worked for eleven hours a day and had to frequently come out for a gulp of fresh air as their outfits easily assimilated carbon monoxide. These costumes, once washed, took almost 8 hours to come back to their original shape. The actors saw through the mouth of the outfit and the movement of the eyes were controlled from a distance by the crew via cables attached to them.
The Teletubbies also owned a vacuum cleaner named Noo Noo. This machine was big enough to hold a small man within it. This advantage was utilized to operate the movements of Noo Noo via a TV monitor.
Giant Flemish rabbits were used to complement the size of the Teletubbies, each weighing about 30 pounds. Interestingly, these rodents were engrossed maniacally in mating, causing the entire crew to work hard to bring them back on the shoot.
The Teletubbies owned props that actually stood for some deep inner meanings!
Okay, the purple hand bag Tinky Winky owned, did stir up some controversies, almost alleging the show of promoting homosexuality. But, in reality, it had another, entirely different purpose to serve. The bag, which had more volume on the inside than on the outside, was actually meant to demonstrate size and magnitude. Similarly, Dipsy’s hat stood for leadership qualities, guidance and authority. Laa-Laa’s ball was meant to showcase the fascination kids have with spheres. And, lastly, Po’s scooter was symbolic to travel and directions.
The show had even inspired a Chartbuster and earned itself a name day, too.
2007 marked the 10th anniversary of this famous TV series and also witnessed the announcement of its name day, the Teletubbies Day, on the 28th of March. That year had also seen the birth of a Chartbuster titled “Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh,” which was based on the show’s theme song. This single had sold over a million copies and reached the number one position in the month of December, 2007.
The Teletubby-land has been by far the most beautiful and engrossing fantasy lands I’ve ever seen. But, the amount of hard work and unimaginable imagination behind its creation outpaces my exhilaration, leaving me dumbstruck. With such amazing facts unveiled, the show sure is a treat to every patron of creativity. The iconic hill house is gone, yes, but with the revival of the series this year using replica model sets, has brought back so many fond memories from those unsullied childhood days.
Reliving every moment now…