The New Teletubbies – is it better than the original?

It’s the latest cult children’s programme revamped for a HD generation. So with CGI, a new theme tune and different sun baby, what did our reviewer and her 3 kids think?

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The Teletubbies are back on TV!

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In the latest trend for rebooting classic children’s programmes for today’s audience, the cult show has had a revamp for 2015.

Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po have had a snazzy makeover to appeal to a HD generation. 

And if you’ve got a mini-me under the age of 7, you’ve probably already seen one or two of the brand new episodes since it came back on telly on 9 November.

Even if you don’t have kids, there’s a pretty high chance you remember the huge, magical, sort of teddy-bear-looking aliens with screens in their stomachs.

There’s a reason for that; it’s because between 1997 and 2001 there were 365 Teletubbies episodes aired in the UK and we watched it in our billions. We kid you not – the show has been seen by about 1 billion children (and their parents) in more than 100 countries.

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To be precise, the programme was sold to 120 territories and translated into 45 languages. There were even 33 million DVDs sold around the world, it was that serious!

And who could forget the Teletubbies say ‘Eh-Oh’ single (certainly not any parent of a pre-schooler at the time)?  

However, in the extremely unlikely event you missed the eye-wateringly repetitive 3-minute, 29-second song, it was based on the show’s theme tune and reached number 1 in the UK Singles Charts in December 1997.

‘Eh-Oh’ remained in the Top 75 for 32 weeks, selling over a million copies, delighting every toddler who heard it and making every parent shed a tear when they heard those two dreadful words: “again, again”.

But it wasn’t all that bad, really, as the Teletubbies YouTube channel proved. Up until 2 weeks ago it still attracted 65 million views each month, despite having no new episodes for 14 years.

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Now the new episodes of Teletubbies are back on TV, have there been any changes?

Yes, quite a few. The new series has been brought bang up-to-date with CGI to give it a more contemporary look, as well as the addition of more modern technologies.

Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po now have touch-screen tummies and a fancy new Tubby Phone voiced by the uber-talented Jane Horrocks. 

They’ve also enlisted the celebrity vocal talents of Fearne Cotton and Jim Broadbent over the Voice Trumpets.

The Teletubbies Home Dome has had a swish makeover and they now have their very own Tubby Lift and Tubby Custard Train, which will delight little ones.

This series has been filmed on a replica set (enhanced with CGI) whereas the original was filmed on a farm in Warwickshire. Weird Tubby fact: the site has since been turned into a pond by the farm owners as they got fed up with tourists trespassing on their land to visit it.

Something else that’s changed are the working conditions for the actors, who now have a secret collapsible chair tucked away in the backside of the costume. This means that the performer can sit down between takes without having to remove their costume. 

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Undoubtedly the biggest change of the new series is the new sun. Taking over from the now 19-year-old Jess Smith is the cherub-faced Berry, who’ll giggle her way through every episode. 

The 18-month-old cutie beat huge competition to become the new ‘sun baby’ for the updated version of the hit show.

Is the new Teletubbies as good as the old Teletubbies?

Yes, I would say it is. Aside from the new features and slicker look of the show, they have kept true to the formula and feel of the original programme.

I even liked the fact they kept the sounds of the magic windmill, Noo Noo and voice trumpets very close to those in the old show – that might make me seem a little sad…but it’s the small things!

Everything apart from the new theme tune is great. My 3 year old was not sold on the voice singing the theme song and preferred the original version. When watching Teletubbies, she said, “He’s not singing it properly!” And I must say she’s right…it has a ring of bad karaoke about it!

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What are the best moments for children?

My youngest (17 months) was mesmerised by the new series and particularly loved the new sun baby, and generally watching the Teletubbies running about!

Children will love the ever-comic Noo Noo, the brand new addition of the Tubby Custard Train and Tubby Phone as well as watching the classic Tummy Time. 

And of course there’s shouting “Again, again” and saying goodbye as the Teletubbies play peek-a-boo before their final farewells and re-enacting “Big Hugs”.

There’s lots visually to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Is there anything good or better for parents?

As iconic as the Teletubbies have become, they’ve always been a bit Marmite among parents, really.

You’ll either enjoy a good childhood reminisce watching the new series (along with your little ones that is!), or find it slightly annoying/irritating when you find yourself watching it with gritted teeth.

No matter which camp you fall into, there will be moments when you raise a smile – the Noo Noo & Dipsy gets me every time!

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MFM verdict:

The new Teletubbies is a successful remake that will thrill yet another generation of pre-schoolers with their endearing silliness and adventures. Much like the original it’ll possibly send quite a few parents a bit loopy, especially if there is another hit single.

But I, for one, am glad I held on to my younger sister’s Po backpack as I have a feeling it may come in handy if Tubby fever takes grip again!

Teletubbies airs on CBeebies (channel 121) at 7.25am every morning.

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