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‘Eh-oh!’: Teletubbies to return on Netflix as series reboots for streaming

It has been a quarter of a century since the Teletubbies first arrived on the BBC with their baby-faced sun and chorus of “eh-oh!”, eliciting joy, rage and puzzlement in equal measure.

Now Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are staging a comeback – with a 2022 twist – in a Netflix reboot narrated by Tituss Burgess, the US actor and singer and star of Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The new Teletubbies will premiere on the streaming service on 14 November.

It is one of several rebooted children’s shows from the 1990s and 2000s which have assumed vintage status in contemporary pop culture, including DuckTales on Disney+ and Animaniacs on Hulu, and are aimed at the children of those who watched them originally.

Teletubbies first arrived in 1997 and ran until 2001 before being relaunched in 2014 on CBeebies. The characters have also made appearances on This Morning and were reunited on Britain’s Got Talent with Simon Cowell, who was behind their song Teletubbies Say ‘Eh-oh!’. Remarkably, the song reached no 1 in the charts.

In the US, where Teletubbies was first shown on PBS in 1998, the show fell foul of the religious right when it was denounced by Jerry Falwell. The late televangelist claimed that Tinky Winky was gay and the show was “damaging to the moral lives of children”.

But Falwell’s criticism only raised the show’s stature. His comments led Kenn Viselman, head of the show’s production company, to say that Tinky Winky is “not gay. He’s not straight. He’s just a character in a children’s series. I think that we should just let the Teletubbies go and play in Teletubbyland and not try to define them.”

The show has also made ripe material for Saturday Night Live sketches – most recently in an episode starring actor and director Regina King as a stoned police officer who sees a grown-up Teletubbies sun.

The latest announcement is one of a new roster of programmes by Netflix targeted at preschool children.

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These include Spirit Rangers, which had an all-Native writers’ room and tells the story of three Chumash/Cowlitz siblings who help protect the land and spirits of the national park they live in, launching on 10 November, and Princess Power, coming next year.

Netflix is also launching new seasons of Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant on 17 October, Gabby’s Dollhouse on 1 November, StoryBots on 21 November and CoComelon next year.

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