network news: interview with a teletubby 1 2 3


It may come as a surprise to some of Network News' readers that the incredibly famous Teletubbies are not real! Believe it or not, they are just a bunch of people dressed up in costume in a TV show for kids!

In March this year, I had the good fortune to meet one of those people, Mr Dave Thompson, the bloke who played Tinky Winky, here in Lostwithiel.

I must confess, I find the Teletubbies pretty scary. I've never dared watch it all the way through - I'm sure there's some kind of brainwashing going on. Apparently Tinky Winky is purple and is the largest, gentlest Teletubby. When out walking he likes to sing his own Tinky Winky song.Tinky Winky loves to dance and fall over on his back. He loves all the Teletubbies very much but he's best friends with Po.


The bloke who used to wear the costume seems a good sort though - he gets full marks in my book for his postcard activities - not to mention the thing about him trying to assassinate the Queen. Dave Thompson now has a respectable career as a stand-up comedian, actor and scriptwriter. He was kind enough to give us an interview - he even bought me a pint or two later. What with one thing and another, it doesn't look like I'll ever get round to properly editing this interview - so here it goes, in traditional fanzine stylee, as transcribed off my micro-cassette:


NN: It must be strange being this media icon. Do people recognise you in the street? Do you have stalkers coming after you?

DT: Not particularly. I did go through a phase when I had little kids knocking on the front door of my flat asking for autographs, which was fine. And sometimes I would find that I go into a place and people would be making comments about Tinky Winky and I'd think how on earth did they know that? Occasionally when I'm doing a stand up gig, even though there's been no mention of it and it's not been publicised as that, I go on stage and people are going - that's Tinky Winky. But on the whole I think I'm pretty invisible and people don't know. I think it might make some difference to the public and if people know then it makes a bit of a difference to them and the interesting thing is that anywhere in the world, like I've had Australians wanting my autograph (obviously in Britain because I haven't been to Australia) and people from Argentina, because it's shown almost everywhere all over the world. It's even shown in South Africa even though they can't afford to buy foreign programmes on the whole. And in Holland it makes a difference when I'm doing gigs over there. I did a thing on German telly recently which got the biggest rating of the week on German television. It seems that in terms of the people who promote stand up comedy, it seems to if anything go against me. I don't know why, but I think they must feel jealous or something.


NN: How did they cast you for the part, is it based on Dave Thompson the human?

DT: No, the reason that they cast me was because the bloke who worked as the production manager was also working on a TV programme I did for Harry Hill. I played various parts in the programme but one of the parts I played was an Egyptian mummy and it involved being sewn into this bandaged costume. He remembered me and thought this bloke has got no problem about being closed in to the costume. So he asked me to audition and I went to the audition and I got the part. It was that simple.

There was loads and loads and loads of intensive work where we were supposed to find the magical child within ourselves and in one of the auditions We were asked by Ann Wood (who started and owns Rag Doll) to imagine that we were a cuddly toy belonging to a little child about three years old. We had to imagine the child that we would have been found by. It's like a found toy. When we were asked to say what sort of child would have found us I said the first thing that came into my mind which was the child Buddha. I think she liked that and that had an effect in her giving me the part.

But for some reason during the working process she turned against me and abandoned me. We used to be on really friendly terms, when we met we'd sort of like cuddle and have a kiss and she told me she wanted me to write for the show. I went and met her in an expensive hotel in London where she was staying and we sat in the foyer and discussed stuff and I submitted stuff I'd written and she said she liked it and she wanted to use me as a writer as well as being involved in the show. When it actually came to shooting she started rejecting all my scripts and she'd just say "oh it's not suitable" and yet someone else who was submitting scripts she'd say "oh that's not quite right, but we can change it". There were like two rules - one rule for me was "no" and the rule for the other person was "well yes, we can modify this we can change this we can make this work". And that's when I realised that something had gone very wrong. I never knew what it was.


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