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TV chiefs call time on Teletubby land; TIME FOR TUBBY BYE-BYES AS SECRET SET IS DISMANTLED.

Byline: BARBARA GOULDEN

EH-OH! It's time for Teletubby bye-bye at the closely-guarded Warwickshire home of the cuddly children's television characters.

Despite continuing high security at the secret Teletubby land in the fields just outside Wimpstone, near Stratford, we can reveal that the set is being dismantled after 365 episodes.

The grassy mound is still there, but the "rabbit" holes down which Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po frequently disappear have been covered over.

The windmill is on its side after being dismantled and the flowers are in crates ready to be taken away as the sun sets on Teletubby Land for the final time.

Filming there began in 1995 and finished last summer.

The hit programme has been translated into 147 languages and seen by more than one billion children around the world.

Creators Ragdoll Productions, based in Stratford, are currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to the last 30 programmes.

Today, staff at Ragdoll - who frequently got lost travelling to Wimpstone as maps were never provided - are busy working on their next children's projects, soon to be revealed.

They are also putting Po and co on to the BBC's digital channel, where they appear as single characters showing youngsters how to recognise primary colours and musical sounds.

Ragdoll spokesman Chris Bates said: "In the next few months, the mound will be dismantled and the field will revert back to growing crops.

"It is still fenced off from the public and will only be used again if anyone needs to shoot scenes for videos or anything like that.

"We think 365 episodes is enough - our audience of babies and young children changes every 18 months and they will be watching Teletubbies in China and Russia right up until 2008."

Did you know?...

Teletubbies was first transmitted at Easter 1997 and the first sale to another country soon followed when the programme was snapped up by Estonia.

Teletubbies has received more than 15 industry awards in the UK and internationally, including the Royal Television Society's Best Pre-School Education Award 2001 and Best Pre-School Programme at the 1998 Children's BAFTA Awards.

CAPTION(S):

END OF THE ROAD: The Teletubbies production set on the outskirts of Wimpstone, near Stratford, will be returned to fields growing crops; HAPPY DAYS: The Teletubbies with their home. The mound will soon be dismantled. FAB FOUR: Tinky Winky, Po, Laa-Laa and Dipsy
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 30, 2002
Words:396
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