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Series / Teletubbies

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Over the hills and far away... Teletubbies come to play.

Tinky Winky, (Tinky Winky!) Dipsy, (Dipsy!) Laa-Laa, (Laa Laa!) Po (Po!). Teletubbies! (Teletubbies!) Describe yourselves here! (Eh-Oh!)

These four playful, cuddly, and giggly characters live in an astroturf paradise, surrounded by shower-head looking loudspeaker systems that rise from the ground, are surrounded by rabbits, and live with a robot vacuum cleaner called 'Noo-Noo'. Their only sustenance is toast and pink custard, and they all speak in baby talk. They have magical television screens on their stomachs, which receive signals from real children via their windmill transmitter when one of them picks up a broadcast via the antennae on their heads. And the sun is a baby's head.

Teletubbies originated on The BBC in 1997, and proved to be popular worldwide. The show ended in 2001 with a whopping 365 episodes but was revived in 2015 on BBC yet again, and on Nickelodeon in the United States. On September 7th, 2022, it was announced that a US dub of the revival would be released onto Netflix on November 14th that year.

One day in Teletubbyland, the Teletubbies made a page detailing the tropes shown in their series.

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Noo-Noo was changed from blue to orange in the reboot, likely to make chroma keying him easier.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Laa-Laa's name is patterned after Nala from The Lion King (1994).
    • With all their bizarre names, Po is the closest one to sounding normal.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Tinky Winky is purple, carries a bag around, and has an inverted triangle for an antenna. Though these are most likely coincidences and the creators even denying this, it didn't stop him from being embraced by the LGBT community in the late 1990s as an icon. Even today, he's still seen as this by many fans.
  • Animals Not to Scale: Because the Teletubby costumes were huge (ten feet tall), and the setting had to be built to scale, the rabbits that were brought in to populate Teletubbyland were Flemish Giants, which are famous for being much larger than most other breeds, to de-emphasize the size of the costumes.
  • Anonymous Band: The jazz group that performed nursery rhyme covers in certain Tummy Tales segments is a legit band named King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys. Unfortunately, they went uncredited in the episodes they appeared in.
  • April Fools' Day: The official YouTube channel sometimes does this. They'll upload a video claiming it's a Missing Episode or a special, only to then turn out to be something Boohbah related, plugging that official channel afterwards.
  • Ascended Meme: The official YouTube channel uploaded their own rare windmill clip. In reality, it's a clip from Chinese New Year with pre-recorded footage of a metal pinwheel and some cheap sparkle effects.
  • Bag of Holding: Tinky Winky's bag can hold almost anything, though it becomes heavy.
    • This is more than likely the reason the show refers to it as a "magic bag".
  • Bilingual Bonus: Po actually speaks Cantonese, a dialect of the Chinese language, at least in the original BBC broadcasts. This is most noticeable when she's riding her scooter (fi-dit and mon means fast and slow in Cantonese respectively). She has also been heard to count to three in Cantonese (yap, yi and sahm means one, two and three in Cantonese respectively). Po also means the action to hug in several Chinese dialects.
    • Additionally, Tinky Winky can be heard with a heavy American accent in a lot of episodes of both the original series AND the reboot.
  • Bunnies for Cuteness: Brown rabbits serve as background characters in the show, mostly for establishing shots.
  • Catchphrase: A lot.
    • They say their own name.
    • "Over the hills and far away, Teletubbies come to play."
    • "One day, in Teletubbyland..."
    • "Something appeared from far away."
    • "Teletubbies love each other very much."
    • "Eh-oh!"
    • "Uh-oh!"
    • "Naughty Noo-Noo!"
    • "Again, again!"
    • "All gone!"
    • "Big Hug!"
    • "Time for Teletubbies."
    • "Time for Tubby Bye-bye!"
    • Laa-Laa has "Bibbaly cheese!" whenever she's frustrated.
    • Sometimes they'll say their name along with their favorite thing, for instance "Tinky Winky bag!" and "Dipsy hat!"
    • They'll often sing a song while out for a walk, like for instance, Tinky Winky, who sings "Pinkle winkle Tinky Winky!"
    • Po often says "Fi-dit!" and "Mon!" when she rides her scooter.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Christmas in South Africa", "Christmas in Finland", "Christmas in the UK", and "Christmas in Spain" are episodes that share two common themes. Those being that, they're all snow episodes, and the Tummy Tales segments showcase different Christmas traditions from around the world.
    • There's a four episode Story Arc where a fully decorated Christmas tree appears in Teletubbyland, and each of the Teletubbies, in separate episodes, find a present under the tree; likewise, the footage they watch in Tummy Tales is of kids doing fun things for the holidays.
  • Colour-Coded Characters: Tinky Winky is purple, Dipsy is green, Laa-Laa is yellow and Po is red.
  • Couch Gag: The last Teletubby that jumps out of Home Dome in the intro is always different. Sometimes it coincides with the episode's theme (such as in Colors - Purple, where Tinky Winky came out last), while most of the time, it's random. This also applies to what happens at the end of every episode after the first time the narrator says bye-bye to each Teletubby. One random Teletubby will pop back up from the hill and say "Boo!" then burst out laughing, and the others follow. But the boo shouter is always different.
  • Cultural Translation: In some countries, the title has a the added at the beginning of it, such as in France.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Honestly, what else can they sing?
  • The Face of the Sun: The sun has a giggling baby for a face.
  • Free-Range Children: They're supposed to be babies (just like the Target Audience), yet they live on their own with no parental care or supervision. May be justified, as they seem to be some kind of aliens; whatever species they are apparently has very precocious offspring (and a lot of help from technology), and therefore little to no need for parental involvement.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Variant. 365 episodes were made with no defined Pilot and Grand Finale; this meant that either children would outgrow the show before they started to notice reruns between 1997 and 2001, or stop watching because the vignettes made kids crap themselves.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Tinky-Winky (phlegmatic), Dipsy (melancholic), Laa-Laa (sanguine) and Po (choleric).
  • Gag Dub: The Bear and the Lion - the Slovak Lion is a chatterbox, the Finnish Lion is a crazy lunatic, the Finnish bear is Carribean, the Flemish Bear is a nerd, the Flemish Lion has a sore throat, and the Polish bear is an old woman.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble:
    • There are 2 boys (Tinky-Winky and Dipsy) and 2 girls (Laa-Laa and Po).
    • This remains the case in the reboot, adding 4 boys (Daa-Daa, Ba, RuRu, Duggle Dee) and 4 girls (Mi-Mi, Ping, Nin, Umby Pumby).
  • The Great Flood: In one of the Magical Events, most of Teletubbyland floods, and three ocean liners come to sail on the new ocean.
  • Group Hug: The Teletubbies frequently share one.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Tinky-Winky and Po. The two are frequently seen together and the former is the biggest and oldest Teletubby, while the latter is the smallest and youngest.
  • The Hyena: Almost everyone, especially The Face of the Sun. Noo-Noo and the narrator are the exceptions, since Noo-Noo can't talk, and the narrator only tells the story that happens in each episode.
  • Iconic Item: Tinky-Winky has his infamous purse, Dipsy has a cow-print hat, Laa-Laa has a big orange ball, and Po has her scooter.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Noo-Noo. He can get up to no good at times and can suck up the Teletubbies' things and run away with them, but he always gives them back in the end.
  • Lighter and Softer: The edited version of The Lion and Bear Magical Event is this compared to the original version. The Lion and Bear sound more cheerful and silly, the music is more upbeat and the sketch uses various sound effects throughout.
  • The Kiddie Ride: There's two fashioned after the Tubbytronic Superdome, and another after Noo-Noo.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Tinky-Winky, Dipsy and Laa-Laa certainly have enough naivety and indifference to fit this trope, having the simple mind of a young child. Po, not so much, since she does have a bit of an intelligent side to her.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Po and Tinky-Winky.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • They all have TVs on their stomachs, hence the "tele". As for "tubbies", well they are pretty fat (and the stomach thing again). Though, in the reboot, they're stomachs work more like tablets, with a YouTube-styled play button appearing before the transmission starts.
    • Dipsy has a meaningful name in his own right - it comes from the antenna on his head, which bears a resemblance to a dipstick.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: Although targeted at pre-schoolers, much older kids seemed to watch this show as well... mostly out of irony, probably. It even had a cult following amongst adults for a while.
  • Mythology Gag: The reboot has tons of small references to the original show.
    • The intro is essentially a shot-for-shot remake of the original opening. A few slight tweaks have been made, but they're not that noticeable.
    • A few of the Hollywoodedge sound effects that were used in the original show are sprinkled in.
    • Dipsy sings his hat song in "Favourite Things".
  • Narrator: Very important, since the Teletubbies themselves can't talk comprehensibly.
  • Never Mess with Granny: The Polish bear and the Funny Lady.
  • No Fourth Wall: The Teletubbies often times greet the audience and interact with the narrator, sometimes refusing to do what the Narrator tells them to do. During one episode, the narrator said, "One day, in Teletubbyland, Laa-Laa uses the watering can." Laa-Laa giggled, and then said the exact same thing', including the "One day" part.
  • Oh, Crap!: A rare example occurs during the episode "Tweet, Tweet" where a butterfly that has been going around Teletubbyland lands on the end of Noo-Noo's nose - it's one of the few moments in the show where it's possible that something really bad could happen. It turns out okay, though.
  • Parrot Exposition: This is all the Teletubbies are capable of in terms of exposition.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Everyone - the Teletubbies, the baby in the sun...
  • Product Placement: Skype is used in the Tummy Tales segment for "Say Hello".
  • Red/Green Contrast: Between Po and Dipsy respectively. Po is energetic, lively, and the bravest Teletubby, while Dipsy contrasts with his calmer, stubborn, and more serious attitude.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Tinky-Winky and Po are Blue and Red, respectively, with Tinky-Winky's gentle and delicate nature contrasting with Po's more high-spirited and boisterous one. Tinky-Winky is also the Blue to Dipsy's Red.
    • Dipsy, however, is the Blue himself to Laa-Laa's Red, being a bit of a stubborn introvert when compared to Laa-Laa's cheerful people-orientedness.
    • Laa-Laa's carefree Cloudcuckoolander nature usually makes her the Blue to Po's pluckier, more ambitious Red.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Most of the Magic Events are done in CG.
  • Same Language Dub: An American dub was produced for PBS.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Dipsy and Laa-Laa.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Tinky-Winky and Dipsy. Tinky-Winky is a Gentle Giant who is has a strong feminine side and loves dancing in a skirt and carrying his handbag while Dipsy is more stubborn and serious when it comes to new things and is very Hot-Blooded.
  • She's a Man in Japan:
    • Thought the Bear was female? Well, in the Italian, Slovak, Swedish, Chinese and Korean dubs, she's a male.
    • While both dubs alternated between the two, most of the voice trumpets in the US dub were given female voices, unlike the original UK version where it's mostly male voices.
  • Sneeze of Doom: One episode contains an averted example of this trope - a butterfly is in Teletubbyland, and it has been going around landing on things - Laa-Laa's hand, Dipsy's arm, Po's scooter, and head, Tinky-Winky's bag, the table, and finally, the end of Noo-Noo's nose. What follows the last one is a long Oh, Crap! moment: the Teletubbies all say "Uh-oh!" as would be expected, Noo-Noo's nose starts to sway from side to side and starts to twitch faster and faster as everyone waits for the sneeze, it happens, and ... the butterfly leaves the house unharmed.
  • Signature Laugh: Again, referring to the fact that they find everything hilarious, all four of them have one.
    • Tinky Winky's laugh is the closest to sounding normal, however, he'll often chuckle when even saying something! This chuckle is heard frequently when he speaks, "Hoo hoo! Hoo hoo hoo!" However, it can also be heard like this: "Huhuhuh!Huhuhuhuhuhu!
    • Dipsy has a fast paced "Heeheeheeheeheehee!"
    • Laa-Laa's fast paced giggle.
    • Po's soft snicker-like giggle.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: There's so much to list.
  • Story Arc:
    • "Christmas Tree", "Making Christmas Cards", "Crackers", and "Christmas Carols" have an overarching story of a Christmas Tree appearing in Teletubbyland, and one of the Teletubbies opening their presents. In the US, these episodes were put into a 2-Pack VHS release titled "Merry Christmas, Teletubbies!".
    • The episodes "Christmas in South Africa", "Christmas in Finland", "Christmas in the UK", "Christmas in Spain", and "Nativity Play" have a story of snow falling in Teletubbyland and the Teletubbies discovering and playing in the snow for the first time. Additionally, the episodes' Tummy Tales segments are all centered around showcasing different holiday traditions from around the world. The episodes were also later released in a 2-Pack VHS and DVD release called "Teletubbies and the Snow" (renamed "Teletubbies: Christmas in the Snow" in the US).
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: Honestly, what else can they sing?
  • Title Theme Tune: Honestly, what else can they sing?
  • Token Minority: Word of God is that Dipsy is black and Po is Chinese. If you look closely, Dipsy's skin color (on his face) is actually slightly darker than all the rest. It was a stunt actor allusion as well: Dipsy and Po's actors are black and Chinese in Real Life as well.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Po and Laa-Laa. Po is a Plucky Girl who loves riding her scooter and tends to be very brave while Laa-Laa is more gentle and motherly, and enjoys dancing in a skirt.
  • The Unintelligible: All four of them.
  • Trash the Set: Teletubbyland was built on the spot of a farmer's field in Warwickshire, who only allowed them to use the spot for a certain amount of time, so when that time was up, the producers had to dismantle the set quick, fast, and in a hurry. This may, or may not, explain why in later episodes, newly created footage simply featured the Teletubbies in blank, solid-colored screens. Even after the set was taken down, so many curious tourists trespassed on his property to see where it was set up that the farmer eventually flooded the entire area to deter any further intrusions.
  • Uncommon Time: The music that plays during the Magic Tree event is in 5/4 time.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: "Again, again again!"
  • Vocal Dissonance: Tinky Winky. His voice is very deep (courtesy of Mark Heenehan, and later by the late Simon Shelton). But have you ever heard a baby/toddler sound like him? Downplayed in the reboot where his voice is higher than ever (courtesy of Jeremiah Krage).
  • Wham Line:
    The Scary Lion: THERE'S THE BEAR!
  • Yellow/Purple Contrast: Between Laa-Laa and Tinky Winky respectively. Laa-Laa is very bubbly with an outgoing nature, while Tinky-Winky is more of a Gentle Giant who is calmer in contrast.

The sun is setting in the sky. Teletubbies say goodbye.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Teletubbies


Simon Gets a Big Hug

Even the infamous music critic Simon Cowell can't resist the Teletubies.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / GroupHug

Media sources: