Channel 4 hopes its Hoobs will be the new Teletubbies

Jojo Moyes
Thursday 16 November 2000 01:00
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Channel 4 raised the stakes in the increasingly competitive world of children's television yesterday with the launch of a £20m multicoloured, furry army called The Hoobs.

Channel 4 raised the stakes in the increasingly competitive world of children's television yesterday with the launch of a £20m multicoloured, furry army called The Hoobs.

The new show, the biggest pre-school commission on British television, is a joint venture between Channel 4 and the Jim Henson Company, maker of the Muppets. It marks a concerted effort by Channel 4 to establish itself in the children's market, where the BBC's Teletubbies and older siblings, the Tweenies, proved so lucrative.

Channel 4 has commissioned 250 of the half-hour educational programmes, which comprise a mixture of puppetry, animation and activities featuring children. It will broadcast daily at 11am from 15 January for the pre-school audience. An internet launch and a marketing programme will include merchandise and videos. The Hoobs will also take part in a classroom "outreach" programme.

The Hoobs themselves - Iver, Hula, Groove and Roma - explore the universe, investigating different worlds. They are asked to find the answer to a single question about the world they are visiting, and then report back to Hubba Hubba Hoob in Hoobland.

The creatures, which are distinctly Muppet-like in appearance, discover that the most valuable information comes from children - or Tiddlypeeps as they refer to them.

Angus Fletcher, executive vice-president of the Jim Henson Television Company, said: "We are delighted to have the opportunity to pioneer a groundbreaking format which will address the needs of the first truly multi-media generation."

The show aims to match the success of Teletubbies, whose creator, Anne Wood, won a Bafta this week for her contribution to children's television. Teletubbies is now watched by a billion children in 120 countries, including Russian, its newest export market.

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