Tweenies is a British live action children's entertainment series created by Will Brenton and Iain Lauchlan. The programme is centred on four lizard-like infant characters, known as the "Tweenies", playing, singing and dancing in a fictional nursery in England. They are cared for by two adult Tweenies and two dogs. Unlike the Teletubbies, the Tweenies are well developed and are able to communicate effectively.
|Created by||Will Brenton |
|Developed by||Tell-Tale Productions for BBC Worldwide|
|Music by||Liz Kitchen|
|Opening theme||"Are You Ready to Play?"|
|Ending theme||"Are You Ready to Play?" (instrumental, short version)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||7|
|No. of episodes||390 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Judy Whitfield |
|Producer(s)||Kay Benbow |
|Camera setup||Davy Johnson|
|Running time||18–20 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Tell-Tale Productions|
|Original network||BBC One|
BBC Two (CBBC)
|Original release||6 September 1999 –|
24 July 2002
390 episodes were broadcast between 6 September 1999 and 24 July 2002. In 2000, the show won a BAFTA award for Best Pre-school Live Action series, and singles featuring exclusive songs spent some weeks in the charts during the early 2000s. The series premiered on the BBC's children's block, and was repeated on CBeebies from the channel's launch in 2002 until 2016. It was also shown on Noggin in the United States and in other countries worldwide.
Overview and historyEdit
The idea for the programme came from Iain Lauchlan and Will Brenton, a pair with a track record of being involved in BBC children's programming. Together with Karl Woolley and Helen Cadwallader, they set up Tell-Tale Productions at Elstree Film Studios in Hertfordshire. Iain Lauchlan was a presenter on Play School, Fingermouse and Playdays, meeting Brenton, a director, writer and also a presenter, during the latter. Together they started producing two of the Playdays strands before forming their own production companies Tell-Tale Productions and, more recently, Wish Films. They also created The Fun Song Factory, Boo!, BB3B, Jim Jam and Sunny, Basil Hair The Squirrel and Entertainment Right's The Magical Lives of Toys.
Tweenies is a production of Tell-Tale Productions in association with the BBC. Animation for the show was produced by A Productions, an animation studio based in Bristol, England, with Ealing Animation providing some animation in a few early episodes. Computer animation for the series was provided by Clockwork Digital, with Ben Mars animating Mungo, the computer creature who appears in some later episodes.
The characters are well developed and children are able to predict what their responses might be. The mixture of story, song and creative activity according to whom?]. Music plays an important part in the programme and children are encouraged to join in with songs and actions.[
The programme is set in a nursery in England attended by the four Tweenies themselves: Bella, Milo, Fizz and the youngest, Jake. They are in the care of two adults, Max and Judy, and two dogs, Doodles and Izzles.
The show includes a "Tweenie Clock", with five circular lights arranged in a pentagonal shape with the lights denoting "News Time" (Circle Time in United States) – Orange, "Messy Time" – Blue, "Song Time" – Yellow, "Telly Time" (Video Time in United States) – Green and "Story Time" – Red. "Surprise Time" is a special time determined when all five lights glow. A button at the centre of the clock (Purple) is pressed to select the activity that will be undertaken next.
It was formerly shown on CBeebies, from 11 February 2002 until 1 April 2016. Like a number of other CBeebies programmes, a live stage version of the show has toured in the UK. The most recent tour, Top of the Tots, toured the British Isles during 2009, the series' 10th anniversary. In addition, the tour also played several shows in Hong Kong in late September and early October 2009. The Tweenies were also regulars on the annual CBeebies Live tours around the British Isles. Between 2003 and 2005, there was also a Tweenies theme park, at Alton Towers in the Cred Street section aimed at younger children, which replaced the Barney section and then was removed in favour of Bob the Builder. In 2000, Tweenies won two awards: Best PreSchool Educational Program and Best Live Action PreSchool Programme.
The original prototypes for the Tweenies characters were designed by Sally Preisig of Mimics Productions; they were later re-scaled into two sizes for the characters shown on the series. In addition, Preisig also designed the character costumes and was co-constructor/developer for the Tweenies' full-size puppets. The costume fabric comes from the UK and was imported and dyed into their present colours; it is about the same thickness as fleece jumpers.
Neal Scanlan Studios (Babe, Star Wars, etc.), made the Animatronic Tweenie heads.
The lizard-like Tweenies consist of Bella, Milo, Fizz, Jake, Doodles, Izzles, Max, Judy, and are sometimes joined by Max's sister Polly. Other characters have appeared occasionally, including Milo's uncle, Mickey, his father, Jake's mother, Fizz's mother and father and Bella's grandmother. There have also been several animated characters. The four main characters appeared in the first episode "Tweenie Band", which was filmed in 1998 at Elstree Studios & aired on 6 September 1999. The Tweenies were played by only one set of actors, while the voices and animatronics were provided by other actors. Unless otherwise indicated, all the following actors and voice talent were in the show from 1999 until its last episode, "What Makes Summer?" in July 2002.
- Bella (operated by Tamsin Heatley; voiced by Sally Preisig 1999-2000, Emma Weaver 2000-2002) is a five-year-old blue-skinned girl with blonde hair, usually accompanied with a red hair ribbon. As the oldest and tallest of the Tweenies, she has a very bossy attitude and likes her own way. Sometimes she causes things to go wrong with her overconfidence, but she apologises for her mistakes. Although Bella comes across bossy she is very helpful and caring to the younger Tweenies, in particular Jake; who she tends to look after whenever he is upset or in need. She loves reading, painting and acting. Her best friend is Fizz.
- Milo (operated by C.H. Beck 1999-2000, Matthew Lyons/Kate Ryan 2000–2002; voiced by Bob Golding, Melba Sibrel in the US) is a four-year-old purple-skinned boy with black hair. He is energetic, friendly and cheerful, though sometimes impulsive. He loves football and magic. His favorite colour is blue. He has a brother named Dean and an uncle named Mickey. He is best friends with Jake and often treats him like a little brother.
- Fizz (operated by Jenny Hutchinson 1999-2000, Angela Reynolds 2000, Francesca Anderson 2001–2002; voiced by Colleen Daley) is a four-year-old yellow-skinned girl with brown beaded hair. She is mild-mannered and sometimes shy, but can get whiny and stroppy for the smallest reasons. Fizz's best friend is Bella. She loves ballet, dressing up, the colour pink and playing with dolls.
- Jake (operated by Samantha Dodd 1999-2001, Esther Collins 2001-2002; voiced by Justin Fletcher) is a three-year-old orange-skinned boy with a blonde Mohican. Being the youngest Tweenie, he sometimes feels left out and excluded from the other Tweenies' games when he is not big enough to join in. He is sweet and has a close bond with Doodles, but he sometimes shows signs of being homesick and is prone to temper tantrums when frustrated. He will often turn to Bella or Doodles for support or advice when sad or upset. He sometimes gets words mixed up. He loves being a superhero, playing pretend and catch. His best friend is Milo.
- Max (operated by Simon Grover/Matthew Lyons (some episodes); voiced by Bob Golding) is a pink-skinned, middle-aged man who is one of the two managers of the playgroup of the Tweenies. He speaks with a slight Yorkshire accent. He loves trains, animals and exploring the outside world. Max is the stricter one of the grown-ups.
- Judy Finnigan (operated by Simon Grover/Sinead Rushe (outside); voiced by Sinead Rushe) is a green-skinned woman who is the other of the playgroup managers. She loves gardening, reading and being creative. She speaks with a Northern Irish accent.
- Doodles (operated by Alan Riley; voiced by Justin Fletcher) is a red and yellow male dog. Doodles is a very friendly, calm dog. He loves going for walks with Max and can often be seen looking out for Jake.
- Izzles (operated by Fiona Watkins; voiced by Colleen Daley) is a purple and white female dog, who was first introduced in 2001. Unlike Doodles she is a puppy and therefore a lot younger and very energetic. At first her antics were not to the Tweenies liking, more so Jake but she has since calmed down and settled in. The girls often like to dress her up in fancy stuff. She is also a companion for Doodles.
- Bella's Grandma (operated by Matthew Lyons; voiced by Tamsin Heatley/Colleen Daley) is another blue-skinned Character who only appeared in "I Can't Get To Sleep" (voice only) and "Weddings are Fun" (physical appearance). She has the responsibility for Bella when her parents got divorced and went restrained to a padded cell. They go out on day outs on the weekend because she has lots and lots of money. She also had a keyworker/husband named Peter, who speaks with a Cockney accent and has seen Bella a lot of times since she was born.
- Bella's Grandpa (operated by John Tobias; voiced by Bob Golding in UK, Frank Welker in US) is also a blue-skinned character who only appeared in "Happy Grandparents Day". He shares the same voice with Max but with a lowered voice and a Cockney accent instead of a Northern one. He also has lots of money and pennies and they go on day outs during the weekends. He also has magic fingers for when he says snap the magic will begin, he also has the responsibility for Bella.
- Polly (operated by Kathy Ryan; voiced by Colleen Daley) is a pink skinned character that appeared in "Oh I Forgot", It's The Thought That Counts", "Teamwork", "Weddings are Fun" and "Happy Grandparents Day". She is Max's sister and also a keyworker to Fizz's mum and dad. When they were kids, they used to live by the seaside and always went to the pier for the promenades the pier holds. When she goes to the playgroup for visits, she brings a story and some sweets along with her.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||85||6 September 1999||31 December 1999|
|2||45||31 January 2000||31 March 2000|
|3||30||24 July 2000||1 September 2000|
|4||40||9 October 2000||1 December 2000|
|5||60 + Special||11 December 2000||9 April 2001|
|6||61||24 September 2001||28 December 2001|
|7||69||31 December 2001||24 July 2002|
The Tweenies aired its first episode Tweenie Band on 6 September 1999 on its original programme block CBBC and last aired on 24 July 2002 with What Makes Summer? on its former channel CBeebies. In total, there are 390 episodes. There have been special episodes, such as a series of Be Safe with the Tweenies and expanded 40 minute episodes.
Episode 252, Favourite Songs, which first aired in March 2001 was banned by the BBC in January 2013 after the corporation received 216 complaints about a scene in a repeat of a Top Of The Pops-themed parody episode where the character Max appears dressed as the late disgraced TV presenter Jimmy Savile. The BBC had stopped the Tweenies from being repeated altogether on CBeebies for four months due to the controversy. The episodes then started being repeated again from June 2013 until April 2016.
Data from AllMusicCharts.com
|Title||Entered chart (UK)||Peak position (UK)||Weeks on chart (UK)|
|Friends Forever||25 November 2000||56||4|
|The Christmas Album||1 December 2001||34||5|
Data from AllMusicCharts.com
|Title||Entered chart (UK)||Peak position (UK)||Weeks on chart (UK)||Sent to CBeebies Album|
|"No. 1"||11 November 2000||5||23||Yes|
|"Best Friends Forever"||31 March 2001||12||10||Yes|
|"Do the Lollipop"||4 August 2001||17||8||No|
|"I Believe in Christmas"||15 December 2001||9||6||No|
|"Bananas"||14 September 2001||23||5||No|
|"Have Fun, Go Mad"||14 September 2002||20||7||Yes|
- CBeebies (UK) – 11 February 2002 – 1 April 2016
- BBC1 (UK) – 6 September 1999 – 15 December 2004
- BBC2 (UK) – 6 September 1999 – 18 December 2009
- Noggin (US) – 2003 – 2005
- Disney Junior (United States) – 28 September 2009 – 11 December 2011
- ABC (Australia) – 4 July 2000 – February 2003
- ABC Kids – August 2001 – 27 June 2003
- TV Asahi (Japan) – 2000 – 2007
- Boomerang (Thailand) – 2002 – 2005
- Russia-1 (Russia) – 2002 – 2004
- Network 2 (The Den) (Ireland)
- TV2 (New Zealand)
- Prime (New Zealand)
- SVT Barnkanalen (Sweden)
- e.tv (South Africa)
- Kids Central (Singapore)
- TV2 (Malaysia)
- Dubai 33 (U.A.E.)
- e-Junior (U.A.E.)
- MBC 3 (Middle East)
- Nickelodeon (Middle East)
- SBC (Seychelles)
- Channel 2 (Zimbabwe)
- TVB Pearl (Hong Kong)
- TVM (Malta)
- TV Africa (Ghana)
The Tweenies went live on various occasions during the height of the programmes success from 1999 until 2003. They made their first live show debut in 1999 after the show's release, then again in 2000 and in 2002 for the Christmas special. These live appearances also include Top of the Pops specials with them performing their singles, including No.1, Do The Lollipop and Have Fun Go Mad!.
DVDs and videosEdit
These were released by BBC Worldwide and some various DVDs are still available in retailers.
Many of the above videos have also been dubbed into other languages. In addition, several of the Tweenies videos were produced in special versions for retailers with additional footage (for example, the "Party Games, Laughs & Giggles" video distributed at Marks & Spencer stores carried two additional segments, adding ten minutes to the video's running time). Many of the above videos were also released as DVDs under different names. iTunes has released a Best of Tweenies volume 1 which consists of the first six episodes of the series.
From 1999 until 2006, various books were released from Tweenies, based on the episodes that were mostly aired. There were also annuals that were released from 2001–2006 and other books, based on each character from Tweenies.
Toys and gamesEdit
From the late 90s into the early 2000s, the Tweenies were one of the most popular set of children's TV characters at the time, which led to a wide range merchandise being sold. Many toys were sold in various retailers, such as Toys "R" Us, Argos, & Woolworths. Merchandise included soft toys, playsets, collectible figures, board games, jigsaws and puzzles, talking toys, the video games Tweenies: Doodles' Bones and Tweenies: Game Time, and many other products.
Awards and nominationsEdit
|Year||Nominated works||Award||Category||Result||Lost to|
|2000||Tweenies||BAFTA Children's Awards||"Best Pre-School Live Action"||Won||N/A|
- "Melba Sibrel - Voice123". Retrieved 29 April 2019.
- "BBC receives 216 complaints for Tweenies Jimmy Savile spoof". BBC News. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
- "Past Winners and Nominees - Children's - Awards - 2000". BAFTA. Retrieved 3 July 2010.