Back in the nineties I was a sixth form student, watching bleary-eyed as four, large colourful creatures bounded around a grassy mound, surrounded by giant rabbits and shouting 'eh-oh'. If you'd told me then that my adult self would be playing a part in bringing back these curiously cuddly creatures for a whole new generation, I'd have reached for another Red Bull and sidled back to bed.
Teletubbies has been described as the "crown jewels" of British children's television and that's really not an understatement. It made its debut nearly 20 years ago, stamped itself across the public consciousness, and has never really gone away. It is still broadcast around the world and attracts more than 75million views a month on YouTube. In short, Teletubbies is a global phenomenon.
To this day, the show remains a national treasure that touches every generation: Those who watched it the first time round and now have children of their own; the students who enjoyed the 'surreal' antics of the Teletubbies with a sardonically arched eyebrow and a hangover; and the parents and grandparents who pounded the pavements and parried the panic-buyers trying to secure the very last cuddly Laa-Laa for their little ones' Christmas stockings.
But bringing back, or 'rebooting' such an adored TV classic brings with it a huge weight of responsibility - to say nothing of the risk of universal condemnation - so there must be a pretty compelling reason for doing so. The reason for us was extremely simple. Because of all the changes in the broadcast of television formats, this classic series - beloved of generations - was in danger of fading away.
So how do you take on such an iconic and recognisable show and make it into a great new series for a new generation of viewers? Hopefully by learning from the huge success of the original show but also listening carefully to the needs of those new viewers.
The way children watch TV has changed enormously in the last 20 years. Children can now view content on hand held devices whenever they want and have become used to shorter length programming with a greater degree of interactivity. We have had to take these changes into account when making the new series - harnessing the incredible tv technology which is now available to us whilst, we hope, lovingly retaining the spirit and magic of the original show.
During the development stages of Teletubbies we considered a number of different production techniques but one thing shone through - the Teletubbies needed to remain the huggable, humorous and slightly clumsy live action costume characters that children have giggled at for nearly 20 years. Teletubbies is all about learning through laughter, and there are huge, proven benefits of that in terms of learning to be yourself, communicating expression and simply having fun with others. Children see how the Teletubbies interact with each other, but they are also part of the interaction as they watch the show and that's what helps set up a framework for learning.
The original series was famously filmed outdoors on location, which provided the crew with myriad challenges, especially during the rainier seasons. But the new technology on offer now, such as CGI and blue screen, has enabled Darrall Macqueen, who produced the series on behalf of DHX Media, to bring the Teletubbies into the studio and visually enhance their world to create a colourful, rich, lush environment, complete with intricate details and natural materials, that looks and feels just like the outdoors.
A huge amount of love, care and expertise has gone into the making of this series - from every single person on the production team. The purists may shudder but we've added some fresh new elements to the series to bring it into the 21st century and propel the humour, whilst hopefully retaining all the features the audience loved the first time round and, most importantly, preserving the overall integrity of the show. The first time I heard one of the new voices, the Oscar-winning actor Jim Broadbent, say the iconic line "Time for Teletubbies" it gave me goose bumps. I hope that when our young audience hear that for the first time when it airs on CBeebies, they'll be up for a great new adventure and will come to love the new Teletubbies as much as we do.