In The Night Garden
Filmed in a real woodland setting In The Night Garden is a magical programme for the under four-year-olds about the dreaming time between waking and sleeping.
Reached by following a magical little, blue star, the Night Garden is a warm and affectionate world which is home to a comical and diverse community of toys, living happily together. Filmed in HD, the series is narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi.
"When we approached Derek Jacobi, I never thought he'd say yes. I just couldn't imagine him agreeing to say "mikka, makka, moo"," laughs creator Andrew Davenport. "But he did and it's great that children can hear his kind of voice. It gives the show such weight."
Executive Producer, Anne Wood agrees: "I'd listened to Fathers And Sons on Radio 4 and just knew Derek would be perfect. He's got a very grandfatherly voice, which really suited what we were looking for and he's an amazing actor.
"I've never worked with anyone who is so brilliant with his voice. He doesn't make it twee and that's vital. We took him to lunch expecting to have to do a hard sell but we showed him about 30 seconds of rushes before he said yes. It's been so wonderful to have him as part of the show."
She continues: "In The Night Garden is the first production that Andy and I have made together since Tellytubbies, which was 10 years ago now.
"One of the best things about making our children's shows is that parents and carers feel they can talk to us about their parenting. In The Night Garden stems from this anecdotal sharing of people's experience of bringing up children.
"We became very aware of the anxiety surrounding the care of young children which manifested itself in all kind of directions – but the one big subject that came up again and again was bedtime. It's the classic time for tension between children who want to stay up and parents who want them to go to bed.
"We wanted to explore the difference between being asleep and being awake from a child's point of view: the difference between closing your eyes and pretending to be asleep and closing your eyes and sleeping.
"So this is a programme about calming things down whereas most children's TV is about gee-ing everything up!"
Andrew Davenport continues: "In developing the characters I spent a lot of time thinking about my own childhood. When I was very young I used to stay at my grandmother's house. She would play a game with me about walking round the garden like a teddy bear and we would play it again and again.
"My second main memory was of a book called the Bedtime Book of Nursery Rhymes with a picture of a child on the front sitting in bed with all his toys all around him, reading the same book with a child on the front surrounded by all his toys, reading the same book...
"So I decided to focus in on the idea of nursery rhyme characters because they're classic characters that survive generation to generation, like my grandmother's walking around the garden rhyme with me.
"Nursery rhymes are full of absurd, eccentric characters that are defined by what they do – like the old woman who lives in a shoe or the cow which jumps over the moon. They're also a compelling part of the shared experience of the silliness of childhood. A child can form pictures in its mind of things that it has never seen – like a cow jumping over the moon.
"At about two years, a child's imagination begins to take flight as they start to explore the world in imaginative places and with imaginative language play. It's the stage at which they start to discover the power of the imagination.
"In The Night Garden is a place of peace and security which is immersed in the complicit silliness of a child's imagination. We've created characters that are toys and have attributes of nursery rhyme characters all living in an absurd, loving community.
"It's like a very detailed and very beautiful picture book."
Igglepiggle is physical and energetic – a well-loved teddy, always jumping and bouncing. He's curious and adventurous, but also vulnerable. He is often in need of reassurance and always carries his red blanket with him.
Upsy Daisy is happy and optimistic. She loves to dance regardless of the occasion and has her own special bed that has a mind of its own – she is often seen chasing or being chased by her bed.
The Tombliboos live inside a round bush, which has many different levels inside where they enjoy playing with their special blocks as well as their drums and piano.
Makka Pakka lives in a little cave with his favourite stones. He has a soap and sponge to make sure all of the Garden stones and all of the faces of the other characters are clean and tidy. He travels around the Garden on his Og-Pog, which carries his sponge, his Uff-uff dryer and his special trumpet.
The Pontipines are a family of ten that lives in a semi-detached house at the foot of a tree. Their next-door neighbours are the Wottingers.
The Haahoos are six enormous great billowy forms that make their way through the Garden like puffy pillows, calling to each other as they meet up to go to sleep in a big pillowy pile.
The Ninky Nonk is a train of many differently sized and shaped carriages and the Pinky Ponk is an airship, speckled with many fins and large landing lights and providing wonderful aerial views of all of the Garden's splendour.
Makka Pakka Washes Faces – Makka Pakka visits all the inhabitants of the garden to wash their faces. Everyone in the garden loves to have their faces washed – even the teeny tiny Pontipines.
Tombliboos' Waving Game – The Tombliboos discover the game of waving. They wave to everybody as they fly through the garden in the Pinky Ponk. Even the great big Haahoos wave back. The Tombliboo waving game makes everybody in the garden happy.
Everybody All Aboard The Ninky Nonk – Everybody goes for a ride in the Ninky Nonk. Makka Pakka gets left behind. He chases the Ninky Nonk and everybody thinks he wants a ride, but all he wants is to give the Ninky Nonk a wash.
The Prettiest Flower – Upsy Daisy wants to look at all the pretty flowers in the garden, but Igglepiggle wants to ride in the Ninky Nonk. They each go their separate ways, but when Igglepiggle finds the prettiest flower of all, he collects Upsy Daisy in the Ninky Nonk and takes her to see it.
Makka Pakka's Trumpet Makes A Funny Noise – The Pontipines count to three. Makka Pakka's trumpet is making a funny noise. There is definitely something wrong with it. Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy go to see Makka Pakka, and help him discover a stone stuck in his trumpet. Makka Pakka gives Upsy Daisy the stone as a present. Everybody joins in the dance at the Gazebo.