Tuesday 25 October 2016

TV: Teletubbies are getting a reboot... 'eh-oh' or 'uh-oh'

Teletubbies co-creator Anne Wood won't be watching the remake
Teletubbies co-creator Anne Wood won't be watching the remake

IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Some of the best: divorce made it into Irish law, finally dragging us into the 20th century. Sort of. Michael Lowry resigned from Fine Gael... although his constituents continue to vote for him in large numbers, which probably nullifies the positive aspect.

The IRA had a ceasefire. Podge and Rodge’s A Scare at Bedtime began airing on RTE2, thus dragging Ireland further into the 20th century. Sort of.

Charlie Haughey was revealed to be a chancer (who knew?) who took 1.3 million in old money from former supermarket supremo and noted cocaine/prostitute user Ben Dunne.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks arrived in Wexford to film the D-Day invasion scenes for Saving Private Ryan on Curracloe beach, boosting the economy with substantial tips to taxi drivers and the gift to a local pub of a helmet that Mr Hanks wore in the movie (I know; I saw it behind the bar once).

Some of the worst: Saving Private Ryan advertised to the world that Curracloe beach is a great place to go if you want to have your legs blown off.

Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for Angela’s Ashes, the most miserable book (with the exception of Peig) anyone anywhere has ever written, which convinced millions around the globe that Limerick is the best city in the world to go to if you adore rain. It was later turned into a film, so that’s two bads.

The Regressive Autocrats climbed into bed with Fianna Failure and the two of them began the lengthy process of doing to the population what Marlon Brando did to Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris, only without the butter. Bertie Ahern became Taoiseach. Write your own punchline.

Jim Kemmy, a fine politician and an even better man, died aged 61 (on my birthday), proving once again that only cream and bastards rise.

Oh, and Teletubbies exploded into the world. Actually, exploded is too small a word. Explodededed might be better. It was a phenomenon. Or a phenomenonemon, if you prefer.

Not that the Teletubbies, four chubby, differently coloured aliens — one purple, one green, one yellow, one red — with differently shaped antennae sticking out of their heads and little television screens in their bellies, would have understood any of this. They used simple words to communicate.

“Eh-oh” (hello) and “Tubby toast” (er, tubby toast, which is all they ate, despite sharing their world with loads of nice, fat, juicy rabbits) was about as complex as their language got.

The target audience was children aged one to four, and they loved its simplicity and candy colours. So, apparently, did university students, who found in it the modern equivalent of The Magic Roundabout, which their mothers and fathers had enjoyed while stoned.

American televangelist Jerry Falwell, who died in 2007, hated it, though. He thought the tallest Tellytubby, Tinky Winky, who was purple, carried a handbag and had a triangle-shaped antenna, was the leader of a sinister plot aimed at turning the world’s children into homosexuals. Mind you, he also put the blame for 9/11 on “pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians”, so he was clearly talking sense.

Anyway, the BBC is about to remake Teletubbies. Why is anyone’s guess. What can you do to update a children’s programme that was pretty much perfect to begin with? Introduce a romantic subplot? Have Po sliding into alcoholism and drug addiction? Change the characters’ colours around?

Anne Wood, co-creator of Teletubbies, is understandably outraged. What would Jerry Falwell think?

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