Why adults love In the Night Garden
In The Night Garden: an artistic work of sheer genius and immense profundity? Discuss.
I've been debating this very seriously on Facebook with friends. A nation of well-educated professionals looking after children are currently directing their powers of critical analysis onto a children's TV show.
We're exhausted and imagine ourselves brain-dead after a day of childcare; completely lacking in intellectual stimulation after hours with only a one-year-old to talk to - and then we spend half an hour staring slack-jawed and boggle-eyed at In The Night Garden. And we love it.
An eminent scientist tells me that in his lab, the talk is all about the show: how it is made; what it all means...are we all Igglepiggle?
Meanwhile, my husband, a musician, insists (I honestly don't know whether he's serious) that the Tomliboo music is some of the most interesting avant-garde improvisation around today.
Clearly, In The Night Garden is a metaphor for life. The child at the beginning is Igglepiggle, who sails away on a sea of sleep and dreams of a fantasyland, a garden in the stars. Igglepiggle then dreams everything that happens in the garden while he bobs around in his little boat. Which is why it doesn't matter that the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk change size all the time.
"Hang on, that's not to scale!", a Night Garden newbie, as yet uninitiated, will say. "Ah, but no," the exhausted parent who has watched hundreds of episodes night after night replies with great passion and seriousness. "You see, this is a dream-world in which everything is changeable and relative."
The Wottingers seem to fascinate us adults, perhaps because they are so mysterious; only appearing from time to time. Wave to the Wottingers! One friend, a 32-year-old lecturer in English Literature and mother of one with a first from Cambridge, muses: "I get quite excited when the Wottingers are on.
"But their relationship with the Pontipines puzzles me. Why do the Ps pretend to be out when the Ws come to visit, for example? Why do they always start the picnic before the Ws have got there? It's weirdly passive aggressive."
She adds: "Igglepiggle gets on my nerves a little; any minor setback and he falls over at once. Makka Pakka I have time for. He's obviously got some issues around hoarding and OCD, mind you - all that face-washing."
Personally, I am intrigued by the Haa Hoos. I would like to know more about their day-to-day lives.
Here, for all the other big ITNG fans out there, are 10 BBC-verified facts that you never knew about the cultural phenomenon of our era.
1. Since its UK launch in March 2007, In the Night Garden has achieved global success with programmes airing in 36 countries, and translated into 19 different languages.
2. In 2012, In the Night Garden was the second most popular programme for 0-4 year olds in the UK, coming just behind The Adventures of Abney & Teal.
3. 100 episodes of the show were painstakingly produced in one go over a six-month period, with the live-action sequences filmed in real woodland in Warwickshire.
4. All the performers' movements were carefully choreographed. They wore specially designed, highly-technical costumes containing equipment to manage movements of the characters' heads, eyes, and hands, or inflating Upsy Daisy's skirt, for instance - as well as screen and audio links to the production team. The original costumes and props are now in archive storage (where exactly, the BBC won't disclose, presumably for fear that hordes of two-year-olds will descend, demanding to see their beloved Ninky Nonk).
5. Other elements were added in after filming by a team of editors and animators. Complicated post-production took three years before all the episodes were completed.
6. Andrew Davenport created In the Night Garden, writing all 100 episodes, and composing all of the music for the series. He also co-created Teletubbies with Anne Wood, the founder and creative director of Ragdoll Productions.
7. Andrew Davenport studied Speech Sciences at University College, London (a vocational degree for Speech Therapy training), and, on graduating, wrote and performed in comedy theatre before joining Ragdoll Productions as a puppeteer and writer for Tots TV.
8. The In the Night Garden magazine sells almost four copies every minute – making it one of the bestselling magazines in the UK!
9. The series is massive in China. It launched in China in 2009, becoming the country's number one rated children's programme in its first run. In 2011 In the Night Garden opened its first 'Edutainment Centre' in China, a place for children to play in an educational environment with the much-loved characters (for God's sake, somebody start one in Britain!)
10. Following a successful launch on Scandinavian TV, schedulers moved its broadcast slot to the dismay of many viewers, who then set up a Facebook page in protest which generated over 20,000 fans and questions being raised in the Norwegian Parliament. And all for the love of Igglepiggle.
What do you love about In the Night Garden? Or are you not a fan?