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Friday, December 25, 1998 Published at 14:09 GMT


Teletubbies' secrets revealed

Eh Oh: Tubbies in the snow

Nasa astronauts and the Power Rangers were the unlikely early inspirations for television's fab four, according to a documentary screened on BBC Two on Christmas Day.

The adventures of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po were also intended as an "antidote" to violent children's shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, one of the show's creators told BBC Two's Big Hug: The Story Of The Teletubbies.

Loving each other matters

Anne Wood, creative director of Ragdoll Productions which makes the shows, said: "I wanted to make a programme that had the direct opposite message - that `big hug' was the event of the day, and loving each other very much mattered."

The series, featuring the cuddly colourful characters, took the world by surprise when it was launched less than two years ago, spawning a massive merchandising campaign.

Ms Wood said she and co-creator Andrew Davenport had been watching an in-flight screening of Power Rangers when she realised she wanted her show to give an alternative message.

Spacemen in original proposal

When she had originally made it known that she was looking for programme ideas, Mr Davenport had put forward the idea of a children's sitcom.

"Two of the characters in my proposal were spacemen who lived at the bottom of someone's garden in a magic wood," he said.

"One of the things that fascinated me about Nasa spacemen is that there's all this high technology involved inputting a spaceman inside a space suit, and sending him up into space and landing him on the moon and it's the most advanced technological thing that ever happens.

[ image: A worldwide hit]
A worldwide hit
"And then when they climb out they look like toddlers toddling around a new world for the first time. There's a sort of absurd kind of enjoyable irony in that."

When Ms Wood was asked to tender for a new pre-school show for the BBC, she asked Mr Davenport whether he would mind if the spacemen were adapted for a for a younger age group.

Teletubby evolution

Ms Wood said: "How about we make them for pre-school children and multiply them - and then put them in a magical land, a place where television comes from, and have a magical windmill that rules over that land?"

Big Hug looked at the highs and lows of the evolution of Teletubbies, from the hold-up in filming due to interest in the specially-built site which locals believed was going to the location of a blockbuster film, to the criticism the programme received for the way the characters spoke.

As well as looking at the story of the Teletubbies, Big Hug took a nostalgic look at the past and pays homage to other BBC children's classics from Andy Pandy to The Clangers and Play School.

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