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Monday, October 12, 1998 Published at 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK


Teletubbies say oui

Laa-Laa, Po, Tinky-Winky and Dipsy go continental

The Teletubbies have made their debut on French television, on a channel not usually associated with the cult series' tiny audience.

The pay TV channel Canal Plus broadcast the first of 90 episodes it bought featuring the fab four speaking French on Monday.

"Canal Plus always looks for something different, for originality and creativity ... the Teletubbies made me curious," said Francoise Reymond, the channel's youth programmes director.

The channel tested the series, which has gripped toddlers in the English-speaking world, on 50 children before deciding to buy it.

"It was extraordinary to see the excitement the Teletubbies provoked," she added.

But there are no available viewing statistics. French television audience figures start from the age of four, so toddlers' viewing is unrecorded.

The Teletubbies have provoked widespread debate on their educational value. They have also attracted a following among older teenagers and students.

Teletubby toys licensed by the BBC sold out last Christmas in Britain and are fast becoming popular in America since the series crossed the Atlantic last spring.

But Canal Plus is an unlikely destination for a series aimed at toddlers. The channel does not figure near the top of viewing figures for children's programming in France, and Ms Reymond's main youth target is a teenage audience.

But she faced no homegrown competition when bidding for the series.

"The only European country where the series had not been sold was France. The Teletubbies are landing across Europe between September and December," she said.

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