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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tinky-Vinky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po Debut

One is blue. One is green. The other two are yellow and red.

Their target audience canТt read, write or speak in complete sentences, but the most famous foursome since the Beatles have already won more than a billion viewers worldwide.

Starting Monday they will get even more, when Tinky-Vinky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po Ч the Russian version of the world-famous Teletubbies Ч make their 9:35 a.m. debut on RTR.

All 365 existing episodes of "Telepuziki," as the show is called in Russian, have been snapped up by the station, the first time a broadcaster here has bought a program part and parcel.

The show, which features the four fluffy figures living in a surreal Teletubby Land Ч once described in the U.S. press as a "post-nuclear landscape in sunshine" Ч has been the subject of adult consternation since its British debut in 1997, despite its bankable following.

The Teletubbies Ч who each sport antennas on top of their heads and television screens on their bellies (which occasionally switch on to show films of children) Ч share their home with real rabbits and a sun in the shape of a smiling face.

The TubbiesТ vocabulary, limited to baby talk such as "big hugs" and "eh oh," would seem to be a walk in the park for most dubbers. But for the past few months, four actors in a studio in south central Moscow have been hard at work adapting the scripts for a young Russian audience.

"If you compare it to СSanta Barbara,Т which I also do, then the Teletubbies are easier. If you compare it to Walt Disney films, itТs easier," said Grigory Vagner, director of Nota, the dubbing company charged with adapting Tubbies lingo into the language of Pushkin and Tolstoy.

Every company that buys the rights to the series Ч the show is now broadcast in 36 different languages Ч is given a strict 32-page book of guidelines on how to properly adapt the program.

Nick Kirkpatrick, head of International Program Development at Ragdoll Productions, the company responsible for Teletubbies, has been monitoring the Russian translation and has worked with foreign-language Teletubbies all over the world.

The key challenge in translating the Tubbies, he said, is making sure that the names and the sounds are familiar and reassuring to their local 2-year-old viewers. In Estonia the program is called "Teletupsuds," while in Finland, Tinky-Vinky is Tivii-Taavi and Dipsy is Hipsu. In Russian, the oft-repeated expression "eh oh" Ч a version of the English "hello" Ч will become "pri vyet."

But RagdollТs close control means that no matter where in the world you tune in, the personalities of the four main characters will be the same.

"If you close your eyes for an instant you should be able to tell whoТs talking in any language," said Kirkpatrick, who will attend the launch of the Russian show on Sunday at MoscowТs Gostiny Dvor, where 3,500 children have received special invitations.

Still, he admits, the system isnТt airtight.

"A big problem in the States is that they sound like little babies," he said. "ThatТs missing the point. TheyТre actually characters with integrity."

The Russian version is requiring some tweaks as well. "They [the Telepuziki] sound very anxious," said Kirkpatrick of the current product. "I think theyТre quite exaggerated at the moment."

The program initially caused controversy among adults when it first aired on the BBC. People complained that the show was too repetitive and full of seemingly meaningless pauses Ч methods the producers defended as meant to hold childrensТ attention and help them absorb the material.

"[Adults] didnТt understand it because it wasnТt for them," Kirkpatrick said. But here in Russia, he added, "people are more accepting of it. They look at it with an open mind."

While Ragdoll has said the program is designed to teach children how to listen and acquire language skills, critics have argued that the show is an obvious attempt to instill a love for television watching in very young children.

But the Russian "Telepuziki" team had only high praise for the project.

"Children up to 4 years old donТt have that much information about the surrounding world, and this program tries to fill it in," Vagner said.

Sergei Brisitsky, the producer of the dubbing project, agreed. "My younger daughter is already past the age for Teletubbies, but she still watches it with pleasure."