Pingu is a British-Swiss stop-motion animated children's comedy television series created by Otmar Gutmann and produced from 1986 to 2000 for Swiss television by Trickfilmstudio and The Pygos Group. It centres on a family of anthropomorphic penguins who live at the South Pole. The main character is the family's son and title character, Pingu.
The series originally ran for four series (each series made up of multiple seasons) from 28 May 1986 to 9 April 2000 on SF DRS. Pingu also aired on the BBC from 1990 until 2006 and won the BAFTA award. The fifth and sixth series were produced by British companies HIT Entertainment and Hot Animation. To this day, Pingu maintains a cult following, and has occasional re-runs on CBeebies in the United Kingdom.
The program is set in Antarctica and centres around penguin families who live and work in igloos. The main character, Pingu, belongs to one such family. He frequently goes on adventures with his little sister, Pinga, and often gets into mischief with his best friend, Robby the Seal.
One reason for Pingu's international success is its lack of real spoken language: nearly all dialogue is in an invented "penguin language" consisting of babbling, muttering, and sporadic loud honking noises. This was initially retroscripted by Carlo Bonomi, who created all the sound effects for the series. This feature allows people of different linguistic backgrounds to be able to follow the story.
Some of the characters appearing in Pingu are given below.
Pingu's family Edit
- Pingu is the main character of the series, a typically playful, curious little boy penguin.
He is strong-willed and prone to occasional tantrums; when he gets excited or angry or wants attention, he makes a loud squawking noise and when he does, turns his beak into a megaphone-like shape
- Pinga is Pingu's younger sister, who first appears in the episode "The New Arrival". She resembles an emperor penguin chick, as do other infant/toddler penguins throughout the show.
- Mother and Father are Pingu and Pinga's parents; their
actual names are not revealed. Father is a postman who smokes a pipe in the early episodes, but quits later. He has a motorized sledge to deliver the mail, sometimes with help from Pingu. Mother is a housewife who spends most of her time cooking and cleaning. Mother sometimes gets help from Pingu and Pinga, and she always gives them a cuddle when they have learned a lesson.
- Grandfather is Pingu and Pinga's paternal grandfather, who
first appeared in the episode "Music Lessons". He is an expert accordionist, as he demonstrates to Pingu in that episode, and is also a former professional weight lifter.
Pingu's friends Edit
- Robby is a grey seal. His name resembles the German word for seal, Robbe.
First appearing in the episode "Pingu Goes Fishing", he is friendly and playful, yet cheeky in a lot of ways. He is bluish-grey in the first four seasons, but is light grey in the last two.
- Pingo is a somewhat foolhardy penguin. He has a long beak
that is essentially flat at the bottom but slightly rounded on the top and a head that is wider and taller. He often persuades Pingu to do wild and silly things with him.
- Pingg is Pingu's other penguin friend. He also has a long beak, but a shorter head than Pingo.
- Pongi is a penguin who wears glasses and has a short round beak. He first appeared in the episode "Ice Hockey".
- Pengy is a penguin very similar to Adelie penguins, first appears in "Pingu and the School Excursion", in episode "Time of School", Pingu resembles Pengy
- Penge is a green penguin who appears in Pingu at the Wedding Party; he speaks with an accent that seems to be typical of his race.
- Punki is a penguin who first appeared in the episode "Pingu
Delivers The Mail". He has a tuft on his head and wears striped trousers. Punki only appears in a handful of episodes.
- Bajoo is Pingu's other non-penguin friend. HiT Entertainment reveals him as a "strange newcomer" to the Antarctic in the appearance of an abominable snowman.
He debuted in 2005, and appeared in the final episode, "Pingu & the Abominable Snowman". He also appeared in the 7–11 music video and "The Pingu Show".
- Pingi is Pingu's girlfriend and Pinga's best friend. She has
thick, white eyelashes and a somewhat mushed beak. She first appeared in the episode "Pingu's Admirer". Pinga is sometimes envious of her because of Pingu paying more attention to her.
- The SchoolMaster is Pingu's teacher. He lives in a nearby
school and rings the bell when it is time for school to begin or end. He first appeared in the episode "School Time"
- The Doctor is the neighborhood's doctor. He lives in a nearby
igloo clinic and frequently treats Pingu's injuries, as well as aid in the birth of Pinga.
- Mr. Peng-Hoven is a poor penguin. He lives in a tattered
igloo and gladly accepts Pingu's gifts. He first appeared in "Pingu and the Barrel Organ".
Production history Edit
A total of 156 five-minute episodes and one special 20-minute episode were originally made, from 1986 to 2000, and then again from 2003 to 2006. The episodes were written by Silvio Mazzola and were directed and animated by Otmar Gutmann using clay animation, at Trickfilmstudio in Russikon, Switzerland.
In 1993, David Hasselhoff released (in Switzerland only) the single "Pingu Dance", a rap song based on the Pingu shorts and featuring samples of Penguinese. A portion of this song is used as the theme to Pingu in international airings, and was also heard in the new version of the "Pingu Looks After the Egg" episode and replaced the "Woodpeckers From Space" song from the original version. The original theme remains in some international airings, including on BBC's Cbeebies.
A special twenty five minute episode, "Pingu at the Wedding Party", was also produced in 1997, and introduced a family of green penguins.
In October 2001, HiT Entertainment bought the United Kingdom rights to the series, including the original 105 episodes, for £15.9 million. Later, HiT decided to bring back the show, and produced a further 52 episodes, created at Hot Animation Studios in 2004-2006, continuing in stop motion but using resin casts of the original clay puppets which had deteriorated by this time. Cbeebies airs only the original version of Pingu with the original cartoon title card (series 1 and 2) from 52 episodes, and shows 13 episodes from series 3 with the claymated inspiration intro.
Contrary to some sources, there was never any CGI used in these later episodes. Presumably due to a language barrier, Carlo Bonomi was replaced with new voice actors Marcello Magni and David Sant. Magni and Sant, Italian and Spanish actors based in London, both have a mime and clowning background and were already aware of the clown language of "Grammelot" on which the penguin language was based. In 2006, after the last episode aired, Pingu finally ended its 20-year run on TV.
Pingu first aired in the United States on Cartoon Network's Sunday morning omnibus program Small World, which featured various cartoon shorts produced internationally, from 1996, until the show's discontinuation in 2001. The show returned to America in 2005, when episodes began to air on PBS Kids Sprout.
In 2006, Pingu was featured in a music video for Eskimo Disco's first single, "7–11".
In India, Pingu was aired by Doordarshan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since 2000, it is aired by Hugama TV and Animax.
In Japan, Pingu currently airs as part of NHK's children's program Nyanchu's World, and also on Cartoon Network Japan. Toys in the likeness of Pingu characters also featured in Japanese KFC restaurants as part of their Kids' Meal.
In the United Kingdom, Pingu was featured in the Children In Need 2009 video by Peter Kay, which contained many other popular characters. This was shown on live television across the United Kingdom, and then sold on both CD and DVD.
A game, released only in Japan, made for the Nintendo DS, Pingu no Waku Waku Carnival ("Pingu's Wonderful Carnival") was made by Square Enix and released in November 2008. This game is a series of mini games starring Pingu and his friends, including one in which Pingu's mother and father bake a heart-shaped cake, with the gameplay style resemblant to that of Cooking Mama.
Another game for the Nintendo DS is Fun Fun Pingu. Little is known about the storyboard, though.
Other video games based on the series are Pingu's 'Barrel of Fun! for the PC in 1997 and Pingu and Friends in 1999, (both of which were developed in the UK by BBC Multimedia, and were then released in USA in 1999 and 2001, being distributed by Infogrames), Pingu for the Game Boy in Japan in 1994, and Fun Fun Pingu for the PlayStation also in Japan in 1999.
In Australia, episodes of Pingu originally aired as a segment on the children's programme, The Book Place on the Seven Network from 1991 to 1996 and later aired on ABC Television as a stand-alone programme in 1998.
Pingu aired in New Zealand on TV3 from 1997 to 2006, and on Four beginning in 2011.
In Canada, Pingu has been a mainstay of the children's programming blocks on TVOntario since the mid-1990s. It can still be seen on TV in that country since APTN airs "The Pingu Show" as part of its morning children's programming block "APTN Kids", and the show is available in English and French language versions. Some of the controversial episodes, such as "Pingu Quarrels With His Mom" and "Little Accidents", have aired uncut on APTN Kids. In British Columbia, Pingu is aired during commercial breaks on Knowledge Network.
Pingu has been broadcast on BBC1 and BBC2 from 1990 - 2012, CBBC on Choice has also screened Pingu, beginning on Saturday 25th December 1999 at 6.50am and 8.50am and New Year's Weekend 2000 from 6.45am - 7.00am, 7.45am - 8.00am and 9.45am - 10.00am as fillers to fill the gaps to welcome the new millennium. It began a regular run on Monday 28th February 2000 at 8.45am, 11.45am, 2.45pm and 5.45pm until 4th August 2000. It returned on 18th September 2000 at 8.55am, 11.55am, 2.55pm and 5.55pm until New Year's Day 2001. It returned on Monday 2nd April 2001 at 8.35am, 11.35am, 2.35pm and 5.35pm as a single episode for the first 2 weeks before adding a second episode from Monday 16th April 2001 at 8.40am, 11.40am, 2.40pm and 5.40pm until Friday 18th May 2001, It also appeared on Choosy Bits from 2001/02. It didn't return until Monday 3rd December 2001 as a double from 9.20am, 12.20pm, 3.20pm and 6.20pm until Friday 21st December 2001.It was broadcast at Christmas 2001 also before finishing broadcasts. CBeebies currently repeat Pingu as of 2015.