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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 01:21 GMT
Teletubbies head for Russia
The Teletubbies
The Teletubbies live in a brightly coloured sunlit world
Thousands of Russian children have flocked to a party in central Moscow to celebrate the launch of the BBC cult television programme the Teletubbies in Russian.


I really like the Teletubbies, I think they are really friendly

Katya, aged five
The Teletubbies, introduced in Britain three years ago, has been a world-wide hit, broadcast in 36 languages to more than a billion viewers.

Now Russia's state television channel, RTR, has bought all 365 episodes of the programme, which is unlike anything it has shown before.

Designed for toddlers, Teletubbies describes the adventures of four cuddly creatures and their pet in an imaginary sunlit world full of flowers and rabbits.

'Telebellies'

The programme, to be first aired on Monday, has been adapted for Russian viewers under the name Telepuziki or Tellybellies.

The Teletubbies
Watched by children in 120 countries
Four Russian actors have been hard at work for months getting into character and adapting the scripts to their local audience.

The trademark Teletubby greeting "Eh-Oh" has been replaced by the Russian word for Hello, and one of the characters - Tinky Winky - gets the more Slavic-sounding name of Tinky-Vinky.

To celebrate Russia's initiation into the world-wide craze, RTR organised a mass party in a department store off Red Square.

"I really like the Teletubbies, I think they are really friendly," said Katya, aged five.

The children could see video clips of the Telepuziki and buy Teletubby merchandise, but the characters themselves did not appear.

BBC spokesperson Rachel Booth said this was because in real life they are about 2.7 metres (nine feet) tall in their costumes, and so could have frightened the toddlers.

"Children tend to think of the Teletubbies as their special friends, their peers or contemporaries if you like, and so we don't want to disillusion them," she added.

Welcome escape

The programme has long stirred up controversy in Britain because the characters talk in baby language.

This has prompted eduationalists to accuse the show of talking down to its young audience.

But BBC Moscow correspondent Caroline Wyatt says there has been no such dispute in Russia.

She says that, with many families struggling to make a living in the new Russia, a programme where the sun always shines on a brightly coloured world, is sure to be welcomed by young and old alike.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Steve Rosenberg, in Moscow
"The Teletubby revolution is well and truly under way"
Video
Watch The Teletubbies in Russian
See also:

24 Aug 99 | Education
Teletubbies' teaching tonic
25 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Teletubbies say 'hola'
15 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Teletubbies say 'konnichi wa'
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