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Tuesday, 7 April, 1998, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Teletubbies go west
Teletubbies: works of "genius" or "loathsome rat-baby visages"?
Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po look set to become a hit across the Atlantic after acquiring American accents and different pictures for the screens on their stomachs.

Billed as the first show aimed at children as young as one, the Teletubbies have earned rave reviews from US TV critics for their stateside debut.

High ratings are predicted on US TV
Jeff Weingrad, the TV Editor at the New York Daily News, said: "We gave it three-and-a-half stars on our four-star rating.

"Some people don't like the idea that kids younger than four are being targeted as TV viewers.

"But any adult that doesn't see the magic of Teletubbies is like those who can't hear the tinkle of Santa's sleigh because they have lost their ability to believe.

"We loved the music, the repetition and the simple rolling actions."

'A certain genius'

The New York Post TV Editor Adam Buckman was similarly bowled over.

"There was a lot of pre-launch worrying that ever younger kids would be begging their parents to buy the toys and buying in to consumerism," he said.

Revenge for the Power Rangers?
"But when I watched the show this morning it seemed just like any other innocent kids' show.

"It is a very gentle programme for little kids, they are very friendly, innocent creatures.

"It seems to me that the show was made with a certain amount of genius. It is difficult to make a programme for babies and they have done a good job," he said.

A rare dissenting voice came from the online magazine, Salon, which urged parents to savour the "blessed ignorance" of not knowing who the Teletubbies are.

"Soon, you will not be able to hide from the loathsome rat-baby visages of the four Tubbies," it added.

Marketing bonanza

The Teletubbies' appearances on PBS Television are being backed up with a big marketing campaign run by the show's US distributor, The Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company.

TV series will be boosted by $1m advertising campaign
Toy manufacturer Hasbro is also set to launch a full line-up of Teletubby products in the autumn.

But devotees will be shocked to learn that the series has had to undergo changes to prepare it for US audiences.

Clips of English children at play, which appear on the Teletubbies' stomachs, have been replaced with those of American children, while the disembodied voices gain a stateside twang.

See also:

07 Dec 97 | UK
Teletubbies top the charts
16 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Gift of speech for Teletubbies
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