From Po’s lesbian scenes to Tinky-Winky being 10 feet tall. Here are 10 little known facts about the hit TV show
Before the onset of ‘Sofia the First’, ‘Doc McStuffins’ and ‘Peppa Pig’ , Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa and Po were the main sources of entertainment for pre-schoolers all over the world.
And the creators Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport struck gold with the BBC show that went on to air internationally and become a global phenomenon.
Today, we look at a few facts about the beloved children’s show that may surprise you:
1. It was a BBC cash cow
Taking over the world in the late 1990s, the Teletubbies show made about 15 Billion Kshs for the BBC from overseas sales and over 5 Billion Kshs in revenue for BBC ,this is according to their 1998/1999 annual report.
It also turned the creators into multimillionaires with Anne’s net worth being at almost 16 Billion Kshs when she was named the third richest person in British broadcasting in 2001 by Broadcast Magazine.
2. The Teletubby Hill was turned into a pond due to trespassing fans
The famous hill in Wimpstone, Warwickshire, England where part of the show was shot had to be turned into a pond due to trespassing Teletubbies fans. Rosemary Harding who owned the farm said “People were jumping fences and crossing cattle fields. We’re glad to see the back of it.”
3. Teletubbies were enormous
Despite their diminutive nature on TV, the Teletubbies were actually goliaths; 6 feet and above giants to be precise. According to TIME magazine, Po was the smallest at 6 ft. 6 in, Dipsy and Laa-Laa stood at 8 feet while Tinky Winky towered above the rest at 10 ft. tall. Which is pretty tall as he was taller than the world’s tallest man Sultan Kösen who stands at 8 ft.3 inches tall.
4. Tinky Winky was accused of being gay
Known for his red patent-leather handbag, purple Tinky Winky was accused of being a bad influence as he allegedly had ‘homosexual tendencies’.
Jerry Lamon Falwell, an American Southern Baptise televangelist and the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Virginia was among his most vocal denouncers. In an article called 'Parents Alert: Tinky Winky Comes Out of the Closet' on the National Liberty Journal, Jerry writes "He is purple - the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle - the gay-pride symbol…As a Christian I feel that role modelling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children."
In retaliation, Steve Rice, a spokesperson for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment, which licensed the Teletubbies in the US, said: "The fact that he carries a magic bag doesn't make him gay. It's a children's show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish. To out a Teletubby in a pre-school show is kind of sad on his part. I really find it absurd and kind of offensive."
5. Tinky Winky's original actor was fired for inappropriate interpretation of the character
The person who originally played Tinky Winky Dave Thompson, left the show over "creative differences" after 70 episodes as the production company, Ragdoll, felt he was "misinterpreting" the role by insinuating that Tinky Winky was gay.
In a dismissal letter sent to Dave, the company claimed that his "interpretation of the role was not acceptable." as a reason for his dismissal. He was later replaced by Simon Shelton who is also known as the Dark Knight in the Incredible Game, a popular British children's game show.
6. 'Po' was in a sexually explicit TV Show
Pui Fan Lee, who played Po, lesbian acts in the 2001 Channel 4 show Metrosexuality attracted a storm and backlash because she performed a sex act on a woman in the sexually explicit show.
Defending herself, Pui told The Sun, “I didn’t take the lesbian role to be deliberately controversial. Yes, I was Po. But I am an actress too and the role looked interesting, exciting and challenging.”
7. Teletubbies went double platinum
In 1997, the show's theme song ‘Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!’, was number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in December 1997 and was certified as double-platinum, making it a commercial success.
8. The show was translated into 40+ languages and sold 33 million+ DVDs
When it aired for four years (between 1997 and 2001) the Teletubbies’ 365 episodes were sold to 120 regions and translated into 45 languages. More than 33 million DVDs of the show have been sold internationally as BBC revealed when they launched their Beanie Babies stuffed animals.
9. It was still commercially-viable 12 years after its finale
In December 2013, the duo sold their rights to the Teletubbies name and their Ragdoll company to Canada’s DHX media for more than $27.7 Million.
After the huge purchase, Michael Donovan, CEO of DHX Media said: "Teletubbies is a worldwide phenomena. This globally recognized brand will be highly complementary to the DHX Media library, which is now one of the largest independent libraries of children's TV content in the world."
10. It was revived in 2015
The show is celebrating its 20 anniversary this year following its revival in 2015 on CBeebies, a kids' station owned by BBC television network. When it made it's comeback, the show came with a Tubby Mobile Phone voiced by Jane Horrocks and touch screens on the character's tummies to make it more modern.
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