Behind the Scenes ... Some Technical Details

[The House]

As one watches the Teletubbies one of the things ... one of the very first things that strikes most viewers is the beautiful and splendid views of Teletubby-land. As the camera pans over hills filled with flowers, clumps of trees and bushes, all neatly manicured and cared for as a huge botanical garden might be in in our time-space reality.

As the narrator's rhytmic, sing-song voice starts that familiar opening line "Over the hills and far away ..." we have certainly, at times, envisioned a huge park or movie lot where Teletubby-land has been created for young, smallish actors to dress up in small, cute, furry costumes to entertain us with their alien-like features and baby-like talk.

However, nothing could be further from the Tubby-truth.

[Map of area northwest of London]

As you may (or may not) know Teletubbies was created by -- and is the property of -- Ragdoll Productions with headquarters in Stratford-upon-Avon in the United Kingdom (England), just northwest of London.

[Aerial photo of Teletubby-land]

Nearby, in rural Warwickshire, is Wimpstone Farm. And this (coordinates in degrees/minutes/seconds and decimal above the picture are approximate) is where the "set" that we know as Teletubby-land was constructed. There was no "sound stage" or enclosed set. All filming was done live at this location. The only enclosed area is the Tubbytronic Superdome -- which can be seen near the center of the picture. If you take the picture at the top of this page and mentally map it to the picture to the right, then you can start to get a feeling for just how small Teletubby-land really is (approximately 80 yards by 130 yards). The larger space that we are led to believe exists is all accomplished with careful and clever camera manipulations.

[Aerial photo of Teletubby-land]

A different angle and at a lower altitude this next picture gives a little better view of how the Tubbytronic Superdome dwarfs the Tubby-"set." It does, in fact, exist and it is where all of the "inside shots" are filmed. The only "trick" photography that occurs with regard to the "house" (as the Teletubbies, themselves, usually refer to it) is in the TV program intro -- there is no hole in the top of the Superdome. You will notice that Teletubby-land is in the middle of rural farmlands. Some thought was given to locating Teletubby-land in a forest or wood. This idea was scrapped quickly due to lighting difficulties.

If you look at a more recent picture of Teletubby-land (i.e. with Google Earth or one of the many mapping sites), you will find that the "pit" has been filled with water and is now a small lake.

[Aerial photo of Teletubby-land]

As we zoom in on the previous picture -- if there was any doubt in your mind at all -- some of the familiar details start to become visible. Through the "enlargement fuzz," you can certainly see the front "door" to the Dome and the familiar curved paths that lead out of the "pit" to higher locations near the whirlygig or windmill. One of the things that isn't visible is that the Tubbytronic Superdome is actually 16 feet high! And this leads us to some of the other lesser-known "features" or facts of Teletubby-land ...

[Tinky-Winky unmasked!]

You may have been fooled by he cute appearance of the Teletubbies. But:

  • Tinky-Winky is nearly 10 feet tall.
    Dipsy is about 9 feet tall.
    Laa-Laa is approximately 8 foot, 6 inches tall.
    Po is about 6 foot, 6 inches tall.
  • The actors "see" out of the mouth of the costume while the eye and mouth movements are controlled remotely by the crew with attached cables.
  • The costumes are made from a special fabric called Babygro. The costmes can take up to 8 hours to refluff after washing
  • The actors inside the costumes must take frequent breaks and remove the head to let fresh air into the costume. The costume can have a significant carbon-monoxide build-up in it.
  • Flemish rabbits are used because of their enormus size. They can grow to a total weight of some 30 pounds.
  • The Noo-Noo is large enough to hold a small man who operates it by using a television monitor.
The trick, of course, is to take away any familiar objects that would give a sense of scale. The illusion in Teletubby-land is to ensure that all objects you see on screen are scaled to make it look like it fits in the Tubby-world over the hills and far away.

Here are some of the cast members:

[Dave Thompson Tinky-Winky (1997)]
Dave Thompson Tinky-Winky (1997) (voice)

[Mark Heenehan: Tinky-Winky]
Mark Heenehan: Tinky-Winky (1997-1998)

[Simon Shelton: Tinky-Winky]
Simon Shelton: Tinky-Winky (1998- )

[John Simmit: Dipsy]
John Simmit: Dipsy

[Nikki Smedley: Laa-Laa]
Nikky Smedley: Laa-Laa

[Pui Fan Lee: Po]
Pui Fan Lee: Po (voice)

[Toni Barry: Additional Voices]
Toni Barry: Additional Voices/Announcer/Counter (voice)

[Sandra Dickinson: Female Trumpet Voice]
Sandra Dickinson: Female Trumpet Voice/additional voices (voice)

[Penelope Keith: Additional Voices]
Penelope Keith: Additional Voices (voice)

[Alex Pascall: Additional Voices]
Alex Pascall: Additional Voices/Singer

[Rolf Saxon: Narrator]
Rolf Saxon: Narrator

[John Schwab Voice Trumpet]
John Schwab: Voice Trumpet

[Jessica Smith (at 20 years old) Sun Baby]
Jessica Smith (at 20 years old: Sun Baby

[Rudolph Walker: Additional Voices]
Rudolph Walker: Additional Voices/Male Trumpet Voice (voice)

[Tim Whitnall: Trumpet Voice]
Tim Whitnall: Narrator/Trumpet Voice (voice)

[Toyah Willcox Additional Voices]
Toyah Willcox: Additional Voices

Teletubbies program, characters and logo: ® & © 1998 Ragdoll Productions (UK) Ltd. Licensed by The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company. All rights reserved. Neither Ragdoll nor itsy bitsy Entertainment, or The BBC nor PBS have endorsed or support this site. Any trademarked or copyrighted material is used here without permission because they wouldn't answer my e-mail request!

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