Edinburgh Fringe preview: Confessions of a Teletubby

Bringing her tales and experiences to Edinburgh Fringe next month, Nikky Smedley reflects on being LaaLaa in Confessions of a Teletubby. Find out what really happened behind the scenes of the much-loved children’s TV show.

Nikky chatted with us to spill the beans about the show … Eh Oh!

Where: The Space @ Surgeons Hall

When: 7-9 Aug, 10.20am

Ticket link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/confessions-of-a-teletubby

Promotional image for Confessions of a Teletubby

What are you looking forward to most at Fringe?

The energy! I used to bring my dance company, “Geographical Duvet” to Fringe year on year through the eighties, to do a show that incorporated subversive dance theatre and a bus tour. Crazy times.

Before that, I lived in Edinburgh for a couple of years, so I was deeply involved with Fringe on several levels.

Then life happened… for ages… and here I am over thirty years later and super excited to be part of a spectacle that, yes, has changed immeasurably but which still has a vibrant heart like no other festival. 

You, the original LaaLaa, are spilling the beans on being a Teletubby in this spoken word show: is it more Big Ted or Ted Talk?

Neither of those things – or perhaps a perfect mixture of the two.

Maybe it’s a bunch of Teletubby behind-the-scenes secrets presenTed, imparTed, reporTed, relaTed.

Incidentally, did you know that the programme was originally pitched as “Teleteddies” but someone else had copyrighted the name, hence “Teletubbies”!

Teletubbies seemed to be everywhere back in the day – why did it capture people’s imaginations, and why bring it to Fringe?

Teletubbies was a very brilliantly conceived programme for reasons I explain in the show – but in short, it put children at the centre of everything and therefore created an almost magical bond between the characters and the audience.

Now, of course, our original audience are in their late twenties and early thirties and like the rest of us have lived through some pretty bonkersly tricky times recently.

So I thought it would be nice to remind people of the safe, warm, hilarious place that was and still is Teletubbyland – who wouldn’t want to revisit that fun for an hour or so?!

Why do you think puppets like LaaLaa connect so positively with children (for my generation, it was Hartley Hare, Big Bird, and Roland Rat), and how do they fit in the wider cultural landscape?

I too remember Hartley Hare with love – especially as a Brummie! And Anne Wood who was the co-creator of Teletubbies is the woman who gave us Roland Rat so… it’s all linked. 

And it’s not just children who enjoy the escapism of dealing with a puppet, the power of the puppet is mighty with adults too.

I think it’s something to do with the complete lack of competitiveness. You can’t measure yourself against a pretend fluffy creature so you can just relax and enjoy the fun.

And just how hot was it in that costume?

Ha!! What I refer to as THE question… even the biggest of TV bigwigs asked this, when they were stood there, in front of our sweaty, flushed selves… it’s a crucial element of my show, so please come and hear about it live.