Teletubbies say “Eh-oh!” to the 21st century with touch-screen tummies

The TV family are back, but rebooted into a digital language that today's kids understand...

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The Teletubbies will look a little different when they make their comeback later this year. The beloved TV characters are getting a 21st century makeover complete with touch-screen tummies to appeal to today’s digital-savvy children.

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Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who first appeared on our screens in 1997, originally had TV screens on their stomachs and antennae on their heads. In the reboot, the creatures still sport their distinctive head gear but the tellies will be replaced with iPad-style tummies which will screen live-action films from a child’s perspective.

The touch-screens are one of several new updates for the upcoming CBeebies remake, including virtual flowers which gradually come into bloom as the episode progresses, and an eco-friendly windmill made from real materials.

And it won’t just look modern – the show will sound different too, with Jim Broadbent and Fearne Cotton as the voice trumpets that pop out of the ground and Jane Horrocks as the “tubby phone”, a mobile phone-style gadget that will make the original 1997 episode look very dated indeed.

The Teletubbies’ first incarnation was seen by around one billion children in more than 100 countries after it was launched in 1997, but creator Anne Wood told Radio Times in February that she was “sad” to sell the rights to CBeebies and that she wouldn’t be tuning in.

“I couldn’t bring myself to. I mean I have nothing against them, it might be brilliant. They tell me they’ve got the best producer possible on it, so that’s a good sign. But how could I watch it? All my programmes are like my children. It’s like seeing a child remade in somebody else’s image. So good luck to them. They bought it and I can’t do anything about that.”

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The new Teletubbies will air on CBeebies later in 2015.