The hottest ticket of the summer (if you're two)

'In the Night Garden', the TV show hypnotic to children but unintelligible to adults, is to go on a £1m UK tour

It is possible for an adult to sit through hundreds of hours of In the Night Garden and still not have a clue what is going on. Children, however, see the multi-Bafta-winning show entirely differently. They know exactly what is happening – the only problem is extracting them from in front of the television set when it is on.

Not that most parents want to, because for a generation of pre-school-age youngsters, the CBeebies series from the creators of the Teletubbies, with its hypnotic hurdy-gurdy theme tune and baffling array of characters, has become a bedtime institution. Now showing across 36 territories worldwide, and having sold one million spin-off DVDs, 2.5m books and 4.4m plush toys, Igglepiggle and company are a merchandisers' dream.

This weekend the marketing boundaries will be pushed even further when Liverpool's Sefton Park plays host to the world premiere of a £1m live version of the show. Already being hailed as the biggest family event this summer holiday, In the Night Garden Live will play to 500 people at a time, five times a day, six days a week from July to October at city parks in Merseyside, London, Glasgow and Birmingham. More than 100,000 adults and their toddlers are expected to see the one-hour performances which promise to faithfully recreate the kaleidoscopic colours and surreal enchantment of the sun-dappled forest setting that has proved so popular with viewers since the series first aired in 2007. Tickets cost from £5 to £20.

Everything from Top Gear to The Tweenies has been rolled out at theatres and exhibition centres up and down the land to "broaden the experience" and the brand beyond the traditional screen. But nothing quite like In the Night Garden Live.

Two vast inflatable igloo domes with the appearance of giant bouncy castles appeared over the weekend among the trees in south Liverpool's sprawling Victorian park. Built by engineers at car-makers Ferrari to be capable of withstanding Force 11 gales, one of the structures will play host to a 13-tiered amphitheatre from which will fly a copy of the show's famous multi-coloured airship the Pinky Ponk, tethered to a height of 50 metres. Beneath this an eight-strong cast clad in the big woolly suits of the main characters – Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka – will re-enact newly created stories based on some of the original television episodes. They will be accompanied by the distinguished cadences of the show's narrator, the Shakespearian actor Sir Derek Jacobi.

The second dome will aim to make parents' lives easier with spaces to park toddlers' buggies, nappy- changing facilities and microwaves to warm up baby food alongside the inevitable merchandising kiosks.

Producer Andrew Collier of Minor Entertainment, who has previously worked on stage adaptations of TV hits such as Pepper Pig and Lazy Town, believes In the Night Garden Live offers something new for parent and toddler alike. "This is the first time a show like this has been done in a touring structure. You cannot do what we have done in a conventional theatre where you are constrained," he said. "Working out how to do it in this fashion was the eureka moment.

"Not only does it work better as a theatrical experience than in a Victorian theatre where the loos are at the wrong height and the seats are designed for adults but it makes it a better experience for families as well."

In the Night Garden grew out of a collaboration between former schoolteacher Anne Wood and children's performer Andy Davenport. The pair revolutionised children's broadcasting in 1997 with the Teletubbies by directly focusing on the needs of toddlers. It was controversial and became caught up with the burgeoning debate over the alleged harmful effects of television on children. It was a massive success, and Laa-Laa, Tinky Winky and friends became instantly recognisable symbols of the decade.

The pair adopted similar tactics for their long-awaited follow up, investing £14.5m in the project – around half the entire amount spent by British commercial broadcasters on children's programming that year. The 2006 Ofcom ban on junk food advertising during kids' shows was blamed for leaving a £39m hole in production budgets. Soon after its launch in the CBeebies primetime bedtime slot, In the Night Garden was drawing audiences of 500,000. When it was moved to a daytime position there was an immediate revolt with angry letters and online petitions demanding its reinstatement.

Andrew Collier believes the reason the show has been successful is because it sees things in the same way as its target audience: "It engages children because it relates to the world in the same way they do. A lot of the show is about the relationship between scale and space and children are fascinated about getting inside things and seeing how they work."

Success will be measured by whether children take to the show as they have on screen. Yesterday, 20-month-old Isaac Hill gurgled appreciatively after meeting the cast and sneaking a ride in the Ninky Nonk – the train which punctuates most episodes with a runaway journey up and down the garden's trees. His grandmother Angela Birkenhead said adults could get something out of the show too: "We watch it alongside the children and we see them become transfixed by what they see. So we enjoy it too because we are looking through their eyes."

Little characters with a big profile

Bob the Builder

Created by former advertising agency art director Keith Chapman, who had previously made Muppets for Jim Henson, the amiable construction worker was launched on to British television screens in 1999. It went on to generate more than £1bn in international retail sales before being sold to HIT Entertainment. Actor Neil Morrissey provided the voice for Bob, who gave us the catchphrase "Can we fix it?" as well as two No 1-singles and a hit album. In 2005, Chapman launched Fifi and the Flowertots.

The Wiggles

Former pre-school teachers turned children's super group. The Australian band now features in television programmes, live shows and amusement park sections. Last decade they were named the top-earning Australian entertainers for four years consecutively with 17 gold albums, 25 platinum-selling albums and DVD sales of 17m.

Angelina Ballerina

Based on the best-selling children's books written by Katharine Holabird and illustrated by Helen Craig, first published in 1983, the stories of the little mouse who loved to dance and eat cheese pies became an animated television series in 2002 by HIT Entertainment. A CGI version with a slimmed-down mouse appeared in the US in 2009. English National Ballet took a popular live version of Angelina on tour in 2007.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor