Eh-Oh! Would you believe that Teletubbies is 25 years old this year? Even though so much time has past, LaaLaa never goes away from my life - even my niece and nephews call me Aunty Laa! After the show finished I continued working in children's TV on Boohbah and In the Night Garden and since then have worked in education, as a children's storyteller, theatre creator, choreographer and more. I currently have a one woman show Nikipedia and a memoir of my time as Laa (for those on first name terms) - Over The Hills And Far Away has just been published by Sandstone Press. Times are pretty dark right now, so I thought it might be cheering to hark back to the innocent, safe and fun world of Teletubbies. From 5pm BST I'm happy to answer questions on any or all of the above and (as the title says) anything!

Eh-oh everyone! Very happy to be here and thank you so much for all your questions... I'm ready to answer anything, so off we go! Nx

EDIT I'm afraid we've come to the end. Thank you for all the questions, I've done my best to answer as many as possible, and I'll try and find time to check back in - but these are busy times. I really appreciate you joining me and send a Big Hug to you all. Nx

Thanks again for yesterday's session - I've tried to follow up with a few more answers today, but have run out of time - off to do Comic Con in Glasgow tomorrow. Hoorah! I really appreciate your engagement but now it really is time for Tubby ByeBye... ByeBye 👋 Nx

Link to proof!

Comments: 917 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

Hagan3111355 karma

You ever meet that sun baby?

Nikkylaa2322 karma

I’ve never met the sun baby, but I did a radio interview recently and she was a co-guest on the show. I was really disappointed that the presenter did’t allow us to talk to one another.

FapleJuice1137 karma

Imagine if randomly, behind the radio room sound proof glass, she just slowly rises up and started lightly giggling.

Nikkylaa682 karma

We were on the phone so...

clipperdouglas29348 karma

You ever fight that sun baby?

Nikkylaa676 karma

Teletubbies are lovers not fighters!

childshMan-He-Bro1203 karma

What was the worst thing that happened while filming?

Nikkylaa2644 karma

The weather was a constant variable - because we really were outside in an actual Teletubbyland rather than CGI. One year we had torrential rain and the dome flooded!

ygguana1353 karma

That's actually pretty impressive. I'd always just assumed it was indoors with props. The whole thing being outside is some dedication!

Nikkylaa960 karma

It was quite magical.

vibe162190 karma

was the sun baby loud?

KruztyTheClown150 karma

No cgi, so it was real too. A living sun 🌞

Nikkylaa11 karma

Well - we just had the actual sun... or not! It was the British summertime.

Mitch_Mitcherson314 karma

The farmer that owns the land the set is on flooded it. People kept trespassing and to put a stop to it, they filled the area with water.

Nikkylaa711 karma

It was part of the planning permission - in order to build the thing in the first place, we had to agree to put it back to nature afterwards.

Mitch_Mitcherson201 karma

I didn't know that, I had only heard about trespassing. Are they going to leave it as a sort of lake, or actively turn it into a natural area?

Nikkylaa329 karma

It is a natural area

merrileem1054 karma

My autistic child learned to talk because of your show. Eternally grateful. Have you heard other stories of children helped by the show?

Nikkylaa1087 karma

Oh that's lovely to hear. Thank you. It was a wonderful surprise to us that Tubbies seemed to resonate so powerfully with children on the autistic spectrum - and led to a long-lived relationship between Ragdoll (the production company) and various autism charities. Later when I was working in SEN schools, I found quite a lot of older children maintained a close relationship with Teletubbies, finding it a comfort as they tried to deal with puberty for example.

Sweaty-Data-40850 karma

How was your experience on the show? Did you & the other cast members have a good relationship? I used to watch Teletubbies growing up & remember having a Po doll.

Nikkylaa1839 karma

Po eh? 🤣 I loved being part of the show - we really were a big happy family. About 44 of us in a field working together to make children smile. I’m really proud of the fact that over six years we four Teletubbies never had a major falling out. I’m still good friends with lots of people from the crew and John Simmit (Dipsy) and I are still in regular contact.

Sensei_Emu660 karma

How did they describe Boohbah to you before you started working on it? That show is like a fever dream!

Nikkylaa865 karma

Haha! Boohbah was described to me as a very movement-based show which was why, as a dancer/choreographer, I was brought on board. Again - I never really thought it was weird. You should see my actual fever dreams!!

flannalypearce114 karma

You did Boohbah too.

I went from a young kid watching teletubies to a teenager watching boohbah at like 3 am trying to chill out after parties 😂 Both are special to me lol

Nikkylaa17 karma

Both are special to me too!

I4gotmyothername647 karma

Did you ever hear about all the conspiracy theories regarding subliminal messaging in Teletubbies, or it being linked to satanism (it was the 90s - everything was something something satanism.)?

If so, what were your teams thoughts and reactions?

Nikkylaa1143 karma

I know! There were all sorts of ridiculous theories. To be honest, we were all so busy we didn't have time to care - and were a little amazed other people found time to make that stuff up! Of course this may be a double bluff...

sofwithanf618 karma

How do you feel about making a difference in so many lives? I'm 23, and grew up with the show. My primary childcare was my nani (Punjabi for grandmother), who doesn't speak any English. The Teletubbies were her favourite show to watch with me because she could always understand what was going on.

She's 86 now, and had a heart attack yesterday. Thank you for the memories we made together because of you and the show!

Nikkylaa506 karma

Oh my! Is she okay? I do hope so. I'm glad that you have good memories of your time watching the show with her. I think part of Teletubbies success was due to the care taken to have such strong non-verbal communication - so it reached across all kinds of barriers. I feel it was a privilege to be involved in what I still think was a very important show to people.

kai1415926535553 karma

First of all. As a kid I couldn't imagine that some day I would be able to ask a question to one of the teletubbies.

What do you think of popular kids TV today (for example cocomelon), do you think we're going in a good direction or there are things that modern shows should learn from the old ones?

Nikkylaa615 karma

I work as the choreographer for Cocomelon. It's a tricky question... I think all new shows are a balance between the constants in childhood from one generation to the next and taking on board the changes that manifest as time marches on.

chocoboat485 karma

What was it like working with a gay icon like Tinky-Winky?

Nikkylaa694 karma

The whole gay thing was ridiculous! We were giant fur babies with no sexual agenda. And anyway, so what if he was? Simon Shelton who played Tinky Winky always dealt with it with tremendous good grace, but it was in other people’s minds - anyone to do with the show never considered that.

Inthewirelain245 karma

as a brit we weren't as party to the full story, but the whole gay tinky winky comes from a pastor who was embroiled in some sex or money scandal or something along those lines who essentially made a ridiculous statement to distract the media. I think he was a televangelist

recumbent_mike158 karma

Pretty sure it was Jerry Falwell, who made a name for himself with stunts like that.

Nikkylaa233 karma

That's right - I think the problem was with him rather than us.

PM-ME-POWERFUL-PUSSY470 karma

Did the vacuum character ever break down? Seems like it would!

Nikkylaa942 karma

Mark Dean who played NooNoo always seemed very stable to me. The occasional blown fuse perhaps, but nothing that wasn't easily fixed.

Kaisietoo8430 karma

Why did you decide to audition for Teletubbies and can you remember what the audition process was like?

Nikkylaa958 karma

I was a dancer beforehand and was getting old - also fed up of being poor. So I was looking for a new direction and answered an ad in the trade press. The audition process was very long, but I remember the first audition very clearly, I talk about it in the book because it was such an important moment in my life. I dressed as a giant table and sang a little song about being in love with a chair! I went for my first audition in October and was offered the job just before Xmas.

loknido415 karma

I would never ever think to dress as a table and sing my love to a chair! That is hilarious picturing in my mind. I would have hired you too

Nikkylaa222 karma

Thank you!

Inthewirelain99 karma

did you make decent money off it

Nikkylaa308 karma

Better than being on the dole, but just a decent weekly wage.

RealKewlthang390 karma

Did you do the voice or just the suit?

Nikkylaa791 karma

All of it - total Laa.

HellJumper303353 karma

Do you and any of the other Teletubbies still keep in contact with each other??

Nikkylaa905 karma

Simon who played Tinky Winky is sadly no longer with us. I’m not really in contact with Pui (Po) often - no reason, just life - but John (Dipsy) and I are still good friends. I'm also in contact with many members of the crew.

iMx2oT316 karma

Hello! What’s your opinion on the Netflix reboot?

Nikkylaa596 karma

I don’t know so much about it… that’s the new batch of Tubbies so we don’t get to hear that news. Sorry! Also... I don't have Netflix 🤣

MrKalius308 karma

How was wearing the suits? Did you get adequate breaks? Where they warm? How did you see?

Nikkylaa612 karma

The suits were great in terms of how you could make them work for the camera (and therefore viewer) but very challenging. They were very hot indeed and very heavy. We saw out of the mouths, but with mechanisms in the way and netting to stop the mechanisms glinting, we were virtually blind. I'm not even sure how we did it! These days, there are strict rules about how long a suit performer can work before having a break, but we filmed before those rules. During the first season in particular we endured really long periods without adequate air - but it did get better as we went on.

CringeNinge304 karma

Was Noo Noo as naughty as i am led in the show to believe?

Nikkylaa640 karma

Naughty Noo Noo!! Mark Dean who played the Noo Noo was quite a cheeky chappie... that hose could reach almost anywhere 🤭

theodoremouse271 karma

Hi!!! I watched Teletubbies as a kid in the 90s!! I was obsessed and you helped make some of my favorite memories as a kid, watching in the morning with my mom. :) We were a family of 4 so I gave everyone in my family a role. My big sister was LaaLaa :)

My question is, did you ever get to meet kids while in costume? Or perform anywhere live?

Nikkylaa387 karma

Oh that's lovely - thank you. We were kept under wraps for years so as not to spoil the magic for the children, but did a bit of a world tour for our tenth anniversary year and it was hugely interesting to see the various reactions in different countries - USA, France, Holland, Singapore. These days kids are much more used to live appearances, but there weren't so many at the time.

BarakatBadger200 karma

Thank you for all the joy you gave to my daughter when she was little!

What did you do with the Boobahs? Am I the only person who found them terrifying?

Nikkylaa249 karma

Ah! Thank you x I did all the choreography for the Boohbahs and was an associate producer and sometime director. I loved Boohbah - I’m sorry you found them scary. You're not the only one though... I wonder if it was because they had no mouths so you couldn't see if they were smiling?

BarakatBadger100 karma

Maybe! Maybe it was all the spinning, it was like a bad trip, LOL

Nikkylaa209 karma

Or a good one...

10strip61 karma

They were definitely up to something.

Nikkylaa127 karma

Dancing mostly.

Portarossa200 karma

Was Laa Laa's full name Laa Laa and it was a Cher situation, or was it Laa of the family Laa and it's a Mario Mario kind of deal?

(Asking for a friend.)

Nikkylaa423 karma

Funny question. Full name Laa Laa. Laa to close friends. Ms Laa to the insolent.

RadicalDog62 karma

Sneaky implication that the other tubbies weren't her close friends. Tubby lore!

Nikkylaa7 karma

No not that at all, I really meant off-screen.

chainsandbruises188 karma

What is Lala's relationship with the other Teletubbies? Are they friends, siblings or what?

Are the Teletubbies the only four residents of the place they live?

If Lala could speak normally, what would she say?

Nikkylaa393 karma

You know - we never offered any backstory for the Tubbies - children just aren't interested in that kind of thing. We were just there, and that was good enough for them - we just loved each other very much.

Well there's the four of us, Noo Noo, the rabbits, some other wildlife, the voice trumpets and then the occasional animated visitor... plenty really.

As far as LaaLaa is concerned - she does talk normally!

TADodger162 karma

What is your view about how adult parents watching the show related to it compared to children? For example, I dated a single mother and she talked about how the male hosts on children's shows were usually good looking, because they realized the moms were watching too and deserved some eye candy.

Nikkylaa311 karma

To be honest - the show was absolutely aimed at children. One of the things that set it apart was that we spoke directly to the child with no adult intervention. Of course, because it was funny and strange lots of grown-ups were intrigued and enjoyed it too, but it really did have the children at its heart. I think that really our gift to parents was to keep small children utterly engaged for a valuable 25 minutes!

amazingmikeyc159 karma

Did you know it would be a hit or did you think you were working on some insane kids thing that nobody would remember??

Nikkylaa305 karma

I thought it would be massive, right from the beginning because such clever people had discovered a fantastic niche and they had they integrity to fill it with something wonderful.

_haha_oh_wow_140 karma

If all the teletubbies got in a fight, who would win and why?

Nikkylaa392 karma

Again - we're lovers, not fighters... but my money would be on Dipse. Have you seen him squat? That's one strong Tub!

FapleJuice93 karma

Sun baby.

It was her plan all along.

Nikkylaa126 karma

With no body, arms, or legs?

FapleJuice70 karma

She's the mastermind

There Can Be Only One

Nikkylaa72 karma

Except there's a different one in the re-boot

iorilondon140 karma

What's your favourite behind the scenes story--that you feel comfortable sharing--from Teletubbies (or the other children shows you appeared in)?

Nikkylaa257 karma

Really I love what close relationships we developed with our dressers. We were completely reliant on them and they worked so hard to make sure we had enough water, wipe our sweaty faces and just be god friends when the going got tough.

AngelicaPickles130 karma

Do teletubbies take baths? When I was 4 I tried to convince my mom I didn't need to take a bath because the teletubbies didn't. Also, LaaLaa was my favorite tubby by far. Thank you for being you!

Nikkylaa23 karma

Thank you for me being your favourite. Baths!! OMG we'd drown once those suits got wet and heavy and sinky!

afraid_to_merge108 karma

Did you have any souvenirs from the set?

Nikkylaa285 karma

Lots of people took Tubby Toast, but I don't have any. My best souvenir is a teeny weeny Dipsy's hat. I often asked if I could have one of the fabulous props, but was always refused. The wardrobe mistress gave me the hat.

Jaso1n1101 karma

Are the tellytubbies really 7ft tall?

Nikkylaa147 karma

Yup - that's a good average if you put all our heights together

ElsaKit89 karma

Hi! I loved Teletubbies when I was little, thank you for being a part of my childhood.

Do you have any fun stories from set? Or anything surprising that viewers wouldn't guess?

Nikkylaa150 karma

Thank you. I have lots - I don't want to be too pluggy, but my book 'Over the Hills And Far Away' is full of them. I like the disastrous visit from the chap with the remote control helicopters who kept flying them into the dome. Viewers may not realise the additional challenge we had moving around whilst unable to see our own feet!

theothersteve787 karma

Which teletubby actor's personality was the least teletubby-like? I always imagined one of them being a cynical old alcoholic or something under the suit.

Nikkylaa183 karma

Well you imagine wrong! I expect part of why we were chosen was for our lack of cynicism.

palbuddy123478 karma

As an adult, are you aware how weird the teletubbies are?

Nikkylaa207 karma

They’ve never seemed weird to me - no more than Bagpuss or the Clangers or many other kids shows. After all, if you have a TV screen on your tummy, you're going to need an aerial on your head! To children they aren’t weird at all… maybe I still have quite a childish mind.

LaserTurboShark6968 karma

So what were the Teletubbies?

Nikkylaa89 karma

What do you think they were?

LaserTurboShark69259 karma

The obvious answer is that they're a scouting party for an advanced alien race planning on annexing the planet but their love for tubby custard caused them to grow complacent and disregard their plans for global domination and instead live the carefree lives we witness in the docu-series.

But I assume there's more nuance to it

Nikkylaa210 karma

Um - they were just having fun really

Nibedit62 karma

How did pink taste? I wanted pink so bad when I was a kid. What was it just strawberry ice cream?

Nikkylaa111 karma

Do you mean custard? Answered above... you're better off with strawberry ice cream believe me.

GavRhino51 karma

Can I ask what the original Tinky Winky (Dave Thompson) was dropped for- didn’t the BBC say his portrayal of the role wasn’t appropriate? I don’t get how if it’s a kids TV character that doesn’t speak…

Also, are you still in touch with any of your co-stars, and do you miss Simon Shelton (the second Tinky Winky) after his passing?

Nikkylaa126 karma

No matter what your job is, you can be really good at it or not. Dave wasn't, Simon was. And we did speak - didn't you hear us? Still in touch - especially with Dipse - and I miss Simon more than I can say. He was an incredibly lovely, fun man and I wish he was still here.

ilrasso51 karma

Would you have your own kids watch it?

Nikkylaa65 karma

Of course!

GrandMasterGush37 karma

The teletubbies didn’t really speak (at least not well) so I’d imagine some thought went into what you and other other performers did physically. What was your approach in taking on this character?

Nikkylaa85 karma

Actually a lot of thought went into the Teletubby language. Perhaps more than the physicality. I'd been a dancer so I had that working for me. The most important thing was to spend time with young children to understand what made meaning for them and to learn from the expertise of the creators.

brittinea31 karma

Are you still in touch with the other original teletubbies? You were mine and my sisters favourite!!

Nikkylaa44 karma

I never tire of hearing that - thank you! Yes I am - Dipsy in particular.

Neferknitti30 karma

Where was Teletubbies filmed?

Nikkylaa78 karma

Over The Hills and Far Away of course! In the lovely Warwickshire countryside.

ManOfStealthAndTaste23 karma

What in the ever-loving fuck was going on with Boohbah? It’s mind-bendingly trippy and disturbing all at once. I pull it up on YouTube to show people every couple years and the universal reaction is pervasive discomfort and “how was this a children’s show?” The characters feel vaguely threatening, the noises they make would be at home in the Predator universe, and the soundtrack is what I imagine a K-hole would sound like.

If you have any insights into any of this I would really love to hear them. Boohbah has occupied a corner of my mind rent-free since I first saw it drunk at 4 AM with a group of friends after homecoming 14 years ago. Thanks!

Nikkylaa39 karma

I liked it! Just bouncing little atoms of energy dancing around in a flying ball and some storybook characters solving visual puzzles. See my earlier answer about mouths though.

angieohno12 karma

How was the baby in the sun on set? They always struck me as a Prima Donna.

Nikkylaa33 karma

She wasn't on set and she was a baby.

dardios12 karma

Is this AMA going in the direction you expected?

YOU DID THIS TO US!

Nikkylaa14 karma

More or less. Not sure what you mean...

cranbeery5 karma

Why were you hired for the show? I mean, what makes one person a better Teletubbies actor than another?

Nikkylaa3 karma

You'll have to ask the people who hired me!

InvasiveWhore-6 karma

You Tubs fuckin or nah?

Nikkylaa24 karma

Don't be silly now.