In The Night Garden first hit our screens in 2007 and it's still on CBeebies every evening.
The show is made by the same team who brought us Teletubbies, and you can tell. With quirky characters who appeal to children but baffle parents, it became an instant hit. But which ones are the best?
Here's our ranking, in reverse order.
11. The Tombliboos
Is it controversial to consign this trio of noisy trouble-makers to the last place? Not really. Little about the Tombliboos is endearing, at least to parents. As Wikipedia notes with understatement, they "enjoy playing the drums and piano, although not with any particular musical prowess." They also drop their trousers with alarming regularity and spend far too long frolicking through their Tardis-like hedge home. Still, children seem to adore them. Our four-year-old has a charming way of remembering which Tombliboo is which. Tombliboo Ooo rhymes with "poo", and has brown clothes. Tombiliboo Eee rhymes with "wee" and dresses in yellow. That leaves the pink one, who is Tombliboo Unn.
10. The Tittifers
A loose affiliation of exotic birds whose four-part harmony signifies that bedtime is drawing near. They otherwise play little part in the affairs of the Night Garden and thus rank low on our list. In case you've ever wondered, the small blue birds are long-tailed finches; the three pink birds are hoopoes; the green pair are white-cheeked turacos; and the lone toucan is... a toucan. Those may not be their natural colours.
9. The Wottingers
Eight tiny children and their almost-as-tiny parents, who live in a semi beneath a tree. The Wottingers enjoy much less screen-time than their neighbours, the Pontinpies (see below). Clearly, they need to get a better agent.
8. The Pinky Ponk
The Pinky Ponk is an accident-prone airship, adept at hitting trees and making flatulent exhaust noises, to the delight of children. Night Garden characters enjoy riding through the woodland canopy in the Pinky Ponk, shrugging off the frequent collisions as nothing much to worry about. Sadly, its ponderous airspeed makes it much less exciting than the Ninky Nonk (the other chief mode of transport in the Night Garden, see below), and hence our low ranking. Incidentally, we've long felt there should also be a sub-aquatic vehicle called the Sinky Sunk. Perhaps if they ever make a reboot...
7. The Haahoos
By far the largest creatures in the Night Garden, the Haahoos are also the most secretive. Despite their bulk, the five inflatable friends tend to hug the perimeter and shun the limelight. This is a pity. We've always felt that they have a story to tell if only someone would listen. Haa-hoo!
6. The Ninky Nonk
"But... but... hang on. It's changed scale!?!" Any newcomer to the show will have uttered those words after watching the Ninky Nonk. The runaway train ride behaves like a deranged squirrel, scooting up and down trees and through hedges with reckless abandon. But it's the machine's habit of switching from knee-height to climb-aboard train that really startles. None of this deters our intrepid friends who catch the demented vehicle almost every episode. It may not have a head or a voice, but the Ninky Nonk is very much a character in its own right.
5. Iggle Piggle
If the show can be said to have a protagonist, then it is Iggle Piggle. Each episode begins with our blue-and-red hero out on his boat, far away from land. Is the Night Garden a figment of his imagination, or are his nocturnal boat trips a dream he is having from the Night Garden? We may never know. Either way, with his red comfort blanket, adorable noises, and inquisitive nature, Iggle Piggle remains one of the best-loved characters. And he totally fancies Upsy Daisy.
4. Upsy Daisy
She's bright, she's bouncy and she has an inflatable skirt. The Night Garden's cheeriest inhabitant also has the catchiest theme tune. We're left in no doubt that she is the only Upsy one, and the only Daisy too. Like all characters in the Night Garden, her behaviour can be erratic. Why is she so fond of flashing her knickers? Why is her bed fitted with drone technology -- and why does Iggle Piggle so want to sleep in it? (Actually, let's not go there.)
3. The Pontipines
It's impossible not to love this tiny, dysfunctional family. Mr and Mrs Pontipine live with their eight children in a semi-detached property beneath a tree. The long-suffering parents spend many hours tracking down their wayward offspring, as well as Mr P's itinerant moustache. The Pontipine's greatest contribution to society, however, is their diet of "runny grobbels" -- a kind of joyless porridge, if that's not a tautology. Parents up and down the country now threaten runny grobbels for dinner if their children don't start behaving.
2. The Narrator
Little is known about the mysterious, omniscient narrator (voiced by Derek Jacobi). We never see him. He never reveals his interest in the Night Garden. Who is he? The scant biographical scraps the Narrator does throw out only heighten the mystery. He claims to be friends with the Pontipines (although they're rather small). He bears some kind of grudge against the transport infrastructure ("Oh no, it's the Ninky Nonk!"). Why? His enigmatic role in the Night Garden makes him one of our favourites, despite his lack of screen time. And what is a 'Pip', anyway?
1. Makka Pakka
Makka Pakka is a hero for our times. The beige creature spends much of his day self-isolating in a cave. Makka Pakka's chief joy is to disinfect stones. When he does emerge on his 'og pog' (a kind of push-scooter), it is to cleanse the Night Garden of germs and to wipe down the faces of the other characters. Questions must be asked about the hygiene of his sponge, but we can only applaud his commitment to keeping the Night Garden clean.
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