Teletubbies 20 years old today

Picture: BBC
Picture: BBC

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Teletubbies - the TV show which made Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po household names - turns 20 today.

The British series, in which the characters say ‘Eh Oh’ and sport antennae on their heads, is now a huge hit, seen by around one billion children in over 100 countries.

But its simple language and child-like movements were initially frowned upon by parents.

The three-year-old boy, Ned Frost, who starred in the very first ‘tummy screen’ film in the debut episode of Teletubbies, is now a 23-year-old medical student, training to become a doctor in Newcastle.

‘They were looking for a family riding bikes in London. I was very talkative, was filmed on my bike, and didn’t mind the camera,’ he told the Press Association.

‘Friends found out about the episode I was in and it was later used during a paediatrics teaching session to show child development,’ he said.

‘I was in two more episodes.’ he added. ‘And I still ride a bike, all the time.’

The original series was created by Anne Wood and Andy Davenport for the BBC, which is airing a new series.

CBeebies Controller Kay Benbow said that it had been a ‘risk’ commissioning the show.

But she added: ‘It was a risk that paid off and we are very proud of the show’s fantastic heritage and its continued success.’

Here are 10 facts about the show

:: Co-creator Davenport was inspired to create the movement and appearance of the Teletubbies by the astronauts from the 1969 moon landings, saying: ‘I found it funny that it represented the peak of human endeavour and here were elite astronauts looking and behaving like toddlers.’

:: The Teletubbies were originally going to be called the Teleteddies.

:: The original rabbits in the show were a domestic breed known as Flemish Giants. But the animals did not live up to their reputation and more animals had to be bought because they did not breed.

:: Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh reached number one in the UK charts in December 1997, selling over one million copies. The record deal with BMG was signed by then A&R executive Simon Cowell.

:: Toyah Willcox, Penelope Keith and Eric Sykes were among the actors who provided voices in the original series.

:: Wimbledon tennis champion Goran Ivanisevic said in 2001 that the Teletubbies helped him to relax before his matches.

:: Nick Kellington, who plays Dipsy, also plays Bistan from the rebel alliance in Star Wars: Rogue One.

:: At 7ft 11in to the top of his antennae, Tinky Winky is the biggest Teletubby.

:: Tubby custard is not as delicious as it looks - it was originally made from a mixture of mashed potato and red and yellow acrylic paint and smelt foul. Tubby Toast is made from home insulation foam.

:: The original Teletubbies merchandise was so popular that, collectively, it outsold all other Christmas toys twice over in 1997.