Teletubbies

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Teletubbies is a BBC television program for toddlers which has crossed the age divide and become a firm favourite, particularly amongst students. It features four colourful tubby creatures: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who live in a deeply psychedelic environment, where the most dangerous predators in sight seem to be the flocks of rabbits which adorn the set. The four teletubbies have television screens mounted on their tummies.

They speak in a gurgling baby language which is the subject of some controversy amongst educationalists, some of whom argue that this made-up talk is not good for children. (A similar complaint was made forty years previously about another childrens' series, `The Flowerpot Men') Though they are actually over 7 feet tall, a fact disguised by the use of a very large breed of rabbit as the only other living thing for comparison, the Teletubbies have the bodily proportions, behaviour and language of toddlers at the stage of understanding speech but not yet fully capable of articulating it: exactly like their target audience. The surreal landscape is like the world of a toddler, where they are arbitrarily ordered about, told to go to sleep, and wonderful and mysterious things happen without explanation...

The Teletubbies' catch-phrase is Eeh-oh (meaning hello) as in: Eeh-oh, Laa-Laa to which Laa-Laa will respond Eeh-oh.

Their diet seems to be almost exclusively Tubby Custard (which is sucked through a spiral straw) and Tubby Toast, and they are spectacularly messy eaters. In one episode, the Tubby Toaster, the machine that makes Tubby Toast went seriously wrong and filled the Teletubbies house with toast. Fortunately one of their companions is the Noo-Noo, a talking vacuum cleaner.

One Teletubby, Tinky Winky, was the focus of a brief controversy in 1999 due to his carrying a bag that looks much like a woman's purse, (although he was first outed by the academic and cultural critic Andy Medhurst in a letter of July 1997 to The Face). A February, 1999 article in the National Liberty Journal, published by Jerry Falwell, warned parents that Tinky could be a hidden gay symbol, saying "[h]e is purple -- the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle -- the gay pride symbol." A spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Co., who licenses the characters in the United States, said it was just a magic bag. "The fact that he carries a magic bag doesn't make him gay. It's a children's show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish." However, this did not stop people from wrongly interpreting the sounds that the original version of the Talking Po doll produced as "faggot faggot," when in fact they were "fidit fidit."

/Talk