Recently I reviewed the rather strange animated series Red And Blue. Whilst doing that piece, it reminded me of another show that had a similar idea, but this one was much more popular with viewers. Pingu was another show that featured stop-motion animation, and it used rather a large amount of Plasticine. It was of Swiss origin (I always thought that it was Icelandic or somewhere like that, but I’m clearly wrong).
The show featured the adventures of a rather cheeky young penguin and his family, who lived in an igloo near the South Pole in the Antarctic. Along with Pingu, we also meet his younger sister Pinga, his parents, and others including Robbie the seal. Again, there were a few things that made the show stand out. Like Red And Blue, the dialogue was nonsensical and in no particular language, making the character’s outbursts rather amusing, along with the usual odd sound effects.
And Pingu also liked to change in shape, and make a rather odd “noot-noot” noise which was his catchphrase. There were a lot of unusual moments in every episode, such as Pingu delivering some letters, playing a musical instrument, or going to school. Pingu launched in 1990, and this is the same year that it was first shown on CBBC, it would be shown in various timeslots including the main afternoon strand, where I remember watching.
Every episode was only five minutes long, but it was one of those shows that gradually gained a cult following, whether it was shown in the morning or afternoon, with many people beyond the range of young children that it was intended for watching. I also noticed that there was only one person in the credits, and I think that all of the voices were provided by one person too.
Over 150 episodes were made and they were repeated rather frequently. In 2002 when the children’s channel CBeebies launched, Pingu seemed to be repeated endlessly for a while, but how could you not enjoy it. Pingu also gained popularity around the world as it was shown in several countries, and along with the usual VHS and DVD releases, there has been lots of other merchandise to satisfy the big fanbase (there was also a character called Pingu in sitcom Nathan Barley, what a highly amusing cultural reference).
Then, just like what has happened with a lot of popular children’s TV shows, a few years ago there was a revival that was called Pingu In The City. But although it was good to catch up again with our penguin friend and his family, who should gain a new generation of fans, all of the characters are now computer-generated and it just doesn’t seem the same really.