In The Night Garden: 10 things we’re all thinking (aren’t we?)

The most bizarre family photo ever?

The most bizarre family photo ever?

I don’t about you, but in our household each day is rounded off by sitting down to watch the much loved, and frankly bizarre, children’s TV phenomenon that is In the Night Garden. Most of the time I find it oddly charming. In fact, I am generally ever-indebted to CBeebies for providing a stream of ad-free, colourful programmes that are educational and socially aware enough to ease the guilt I feel when plonking Bubs down in front of the TV. However, after 6+ months of watching an episode almost every evening there a few things I need to get off my chest. So here goes:

1) Tombliboo music is THE WORST.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but In The Night Garden is musically quite clever. All of the characters have their own song, which becomes a motif that follows them through the entire programme. Plus the Tittifers random songs throughout each episode come together into a jolly, harmonic lullaby when it’s time to go to sleep. All well and good. So why is the only music played by actual characters in the show so utterly atrocious? The Tombliboos crash about on their little piano making a catcall of a racket and this, apparently, is ‘Tombliboo music‘. Well, I’m here to tell you Derek Jacobi (he’s the narrator, I’m not just being whimsically random) that it is nothing of the sort! My husband has, on occasion, turned the channel over to avoid said ‘music’. I’m all for discordant musical experimentation but not at bedtime, okay? Just not at bedtime.

2) What the eff are the Haahoos?

Yes, yes, ‘What the eff is anything in the Night Garden?’ I hear you cry. Good point, well made. But come on, the Haahoos? The strange inflatable creatures that loom, balloon like in the background as the others dance? Are they ever featured in a storyline? (okay ‘storyline’ is probably putting it a bit strongly) Yet there they always are, closing their sleepy eyes at the end of each episode. They are weird. And not in a good way.

Seriously.

Seriously.

3) The Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk change size. I find this troubling.

So, at the end of each episode there’s that little dance they all do, right? It’s one of the only times the characters all get together at once and so we can see their relative sizes. Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy are the biggest (apart from the weirdo Haahoos, obvs) , followed by the Tombliboos, followed by Makka Pakka, the Pontipines and Wottingers. These sizes stay the same throughout the show, naturally. But not so for the much loved novelty vehicles of the Night Garden. Oooooh, no siree bob. They’re all nice and small at the end of the show. Igglepiggle runs past them (he’s never in bed is he? what’s he like?) and they are, I’d say, about half his size. Even smaller in the dancey bit before. And yet not only can Igglepiggle fit into the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk, he can do so comfortably, in a variety of carriages, some of which are apparently arena-like in size. And everyone else can fit on too. So what’s the deal? Do the residents of the Night Garden shrink as soon as they approach? Or does the Pinky Ponk suddenly grow like it’s been hit by the laser from ‘Honey I Blew Up the Baby’? (If you weren’t born in the 80s that film may have passed you by, which is really a good thing).

Parents up and down the country are being tortured by these unexplained perspective changes. Why? Why? Why? We scream. Well, we scream it internally because our children are watching, blissfully ignorant of the raging inconsistencies that are being paraded before them. I have seen irate Facebook statuses on this subject. Facebook statuses people. That’s how serious this situation is.

4) The Tombliboos seem to live in a primitive version of the Tardis.

Whilst we’re on the subject of perspective, I’d just like to add that, while on the outside the Tombliboos’ house is relatively modest, inside it is positively cavernous. Is it just me or is anyone else starting to think that CBeebies are just messing with our heads?

5) Is Makka Pakka a little bit sad?

I love Makka Pakka. I actually love him. The Tombliboos can go jump for all I care and IgglePiggle just needs to stop falling over. Upsy Daisy I have more time for but still, none of them are a patch on old Makka. He’s the cutest. No, seriously, I love him.

But am I the only who finds that there’s something just a little bit melancholy to his character? Maybe it’s because all of the others have a playmate. Or it could be that he takes a stone to bed with him. He’s cuddling a stone people. Most likely, though is the fact that, whilst Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and the Tombliboos are obviously a bunch of hapless preschoolers, Makka Pakka reminds me more of an unassuming, slightly OCD, middle aged man. Just imagine, living in a bizarre garden with questionable public transport surrounded by giant toddlers who constantly need their faces washing. Bleurgh. I think I’d be a little bit sad too.

Poor Makka Pakka. #thirdwheel

Poor Makka Pakka. #thirdwheel

Just as an aside, does anyone else secretly covet Makka Pakka’s bed covers? They are stylish man! John Lewis needs to get on that shizzle!

6) Pinky Ponk juice.

I don’t really have anything to say about this. To be honest I don’t want to think about it too much. It just freaks me out that it’s a thing. Bleurgh.

7) The Poor Old Wottingers.

‘The Pontipines are friends of mine’ sings Derek at the beginning of many an episode. That red-clad family do their little dances and hide behind buttons like nobody’s business. They’re often to be found taking a ride on the Ninky-Nonk or enjoying a refreshing beverage (afore mentioned) at altitude on the Pinky Ponk. Meanwhile, languishing just next door are the much over-looked Wottingers. The same in every way apart from their blue clothing, I can’t help thinking the Wottingers are very much the second-class citizens of the Night Garden. Whilst the Pontipines lark about enjoying the life of Riley I often wonder what the Wottinger children are doing. Are they peering out of the windows of their little semi-detached house thinking ‘What have they go that we haven’t? Why do they get to hide in flower pots all the time? Why don’t we have our own song?’  Oh sure, they appear in the odd episode or two but only as sort of mass-sidekick for the Pontipines. When will the Wottingers be allowed to express themselves in their own right? Huh? Huh?? I don’t know, Dear Reader, I just don’t know.

8) The ball is not a character

Notice, Dear Reader, that I write ‘the ball’ and not ‘The Ball’. Because it’s not a person! It’s an inanimate object. Not that I am against inanimate objects being animated into characters per se, Oh no, I love me a bit of Beauty and the Beast! But the ball does fall under this category. It. Just. Bounces. So let’s not talk about it as if it were a being, okay? Does my bloody head in.

9) What is the big deal with IgglePiggle? Upsy Daisy is the star of the show. 

A controversial opening gambit, I am aware. My husband and I have genuinely debated this question. Seriously, it has produced post-modernist interpretations and everything, whilst my son obliviously chomps down his bedtime banana. But I stick to my guns. Yes, Igglepiggle is in the boat at the beginning and the end (is the whole thing a dream? dun dun der!) but Upsy Daisy is 100% the most featured character. In fact I’d go as far to say the Igglepiggle is her sidekick, bless him. He pretty much follows her around, intermittently falling over in shock for comic effect. Upsy Daisy sings, she dances, she has a crazy mobile bed (don’t get me started) and Igglepiggle? Well, he has a blanket.

There, I’ve said it. It feels good to have that out in the open. Commence epic and impassioned debate in the comments section.

And last but by no means least:

10) Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle: Get a Room!

I know I am corrupting the innocent and childlike relationship that is at the very heart of In The Night Garden. I know I am imposing my jaded, cynical adult mind onto what is, after all, just a nice TV show. But I don’t care! I am not the only one who finds Upsy Daisy and Igglepiggle’s kisses just a bit too lingering for comfort. Am I? Thought not. Those two are, in my mind, the Ross and Rachel of the Night Garden. Everyone can see that they’re in love and half of the time it works just fine, but then they’ll loose each other or just go chasing after a ball or something. Life always gets in the way, doesn’t?

But when they are together, well, they make it count! I’m all for showing affection guys but, you know, the kids are watching.

upsy-and-iggle

What bugs you about In the Night Garden? Tweet @aafew or comment below. 

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All In The Night Garden images © BBC.

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74 thoughts on “In The Night Garden: 10 things we’re all thinking (aren’t we?)

  1. I ended up watching In The Night Garden one morning, when I had come downstairs early with some sort of vomiting bug – I didn’t want to stay in bed, but was running a bit of a temperature, and when I plonked myself on the couch and switched on the TV, ITNG was on, and for a few moments I was unsure as to whether I was actually seeing what I thought I was seeing, or whether it was all some feverish nightmare!

    Then my husband came and watched the end of it with me, and was hooked. So much so, that I had to programme it to record every day, so he could watch it when he got home.

    We have both recovered from these illnesses!

    I absolutely agree with you about UpsyDaisy being the star, and about Makka Pakka too. And the growing/shrinking Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk. And the Tombliboo ‘music’. And their freaky Tardis home. And why, oh why do their trousers keep falling off??

    And now I am off to find it on the TV and watch it again – if I get hooked again …..

    • Man that show is weird!! The writers must all be off their bonces on pysychodelic drugs!! Far too adult for 2 year old grandson, alfie, who watches it enthralled! Its the farting that cracks me up … the pontipines never stop nor does the pinky ponk! I agree the haahoos are seriously scarey!!

  2. Mr and Mrs Pontipine are the worst parents ever, aren’t they?! Constantly losing track of all their children and letting them climb all over the Tombliboo house. I always felt sorry for the Wottingers too.

    And as for the Haahoos …! I’m glad they’re not in it as much as the others. They are the stuff of nightmares!

    Really enjoyed this post. From another mother who has watched far too much of this insane program! x

  3. I love makka pakka too! It is the most awfully annoying bonkers programme ever but like you – I am eternally grateful as the music symbolises BED! And when it’s been a long day that crazy music makes me know the end is nigh…! Fab post x

  4. Great!

    Don’t know if it is just me… but has anyone seen any character use the last carriage on the Ninky Nonk? Always seems to be unused… bugs me a bit. Don’t know why!

  5. I must say that I HAVE actually seen Igglepiggle use that last carriage – all by himself.

    These days I time the bath, story, bed routine to coincide with ITNG so I don’t have to watch it!!

  6. Oh dear. I couldnt stand it. Rubbish word and noises. Called it in the shite garden and after a bit refused to let my children watch it. Aren’t I a meanie 😄

  7. I wondered if the Ha hoos were supposed to represent adults. They are much bigger than everyone else. They just bumble around not doing anything of interest but are always there. Probably how a toddler see adults really.

  8. Why does Upsy Daisy have a ring-pull on her skirt? An inflatable skirt that shows her pants is just plain wrong.

  9. Thank u thank u for asking questions I am afraid to ask? Lol! My four mount old love ITNG (to the point that if he kicks and bounces to the tunes to hard he wil catapult out of his bouncy chair!). Also I noticed the last carriage of the pinky ponk is never used! Maybe you need a VIP ticket to use it! Lol and I agree I love Makka Pakka!

  10. I cannot look at Makka Pakka without thinking the words “white dog poo” and I bet you will too now.

    I read an article that ITNG is an interpretation of Chaucer for toddlers, which was very enlightening. Google it. I don’t think there is any white dog poo in Chaucer though.

  11. The episode always starts with Iggle Piggle adrift in an endless sea, lost in his boat. He lies down, looks up at the stars, and is transported to the night garden where he finds comfort in his predicament – characters who represent the life he left behind before his ill-fated voyage. Upsy Daisy is his wife, The Pontipines and Wottingers his friends and family, the Hahoos his parents, and so on. At the end of the episode, everyone goes to sleep except Iggle Piggle – reality is creeping in, and he won’t see them again. He doesn’t want to go to sleep, he refuses to succumb – and Derek Jacobi says “come on Iggle Piggle. It’s time to go.”

    Does Derek Jacobi just mean to sleep in the night garden? I think not. I think Derek Jacobi is talking to the “real” Iggle Piggle, lost at sea on the boat, probably out of food and fresh water and using a tatty sail as a blanket. It’s time to go, Iggle Piggle. Let go. This mortal coil is no longer for you.

  12. Hahaha me and buns haven’t watched this for about 18 months now – nut but it all came flooding back. SO used to call her “Upsie Slutsie” (away from little ears obviously) due to the fact that she kisses EVERYONE and is constantly flashing her under garments at the world hahaha. Oh so glad we have moved on from this programme.

  13. I thankfully no longer watch this. Me and bub havent for a long time. My SO used to refer to her (away from little ears) Upsie Slutsie due to her kissing EVERYONE and constantly flashing her undergarments at them haha. Bub still sleeps with an Iggle teddy though haha

  14. Hehehe, I used to be in a band called the wottingers, always felt they were underused and overshadowed by the rubbish parents and hooligan kids next door, they’re the nice family that have to live next door to the asbo house ^_^

  15. I feel a personal empathy with Makka Pakka. Responsible for washing faces and picking up stones that have been left lying around. The big give-away though is the bags under the eyes: this is clearly the Mother!!
    The fact that he is the 3rd wheel and is smaller than the big kids (Upsy and Iggle) adds insult to injury as I reckon size reflects importance, like in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics yeah?

  16. I thought makka pakka was the grandmother with her little walker/scooter who helps look after and entertain everyone.

    All I know is weve only recently gotten into watching it and my son loves it (well apart from the individual tittifers hes not keen on them)

  17. I think the Wottingers are some of those annoying neighbours that copy everything you get because they’re secretly jealous. They hang around their garden every time the cameras there to try get a piece of the pontipines fame and glory, just my opinion!

  18. I have one year old twins who LOVE THIS STUFF. Honestly, I have a picture of them just staring at it, hypnotized. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing……..I do love Makka Pakka and I am stalking Argos for a Ninky Nonk. I’ve turned into someone I wouldn’t want to sit beside on a bus. My husband has watched so much of it that he has started to refer to our marital dalliances as “can I put my Ninky Nonk in your Pinky Ponk” so now the whole thing is really sordid, along with poor Iggle Piggle (that face down fall FREAKS me out) who now looks like he has had a stroke after someone pointed that out in a facebook status……on the bright side, I can tell you something about the Wattingers! In tonight’s episode, they all got stuck down a tiny hole and the Pontipines went on the Ninky Nonk to find them. I sound demented.

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  20. I always found the Redness and Blueness of the Wattingers and the Pontypines a bit pointed. As is the slightly sarcastic “wave to the Wattingers…” (as in smile but don’t talk to them, look at them, get the heck out of here away from them….) I’m sure it’s about the Wattingers’ political views. They probably want to privatise the Ninky Nonk and charge a green tax on the Ha Hoos for all the air they’re using up.

    Upsy Daisy chasing her bed…. I know she drags it around with her too, but it runs away. This is the stuff of nightmares. Who wants to have to worry about catching your bed first when you’re tired?

    I was concerned that Macca Pacca may have needs on the ASD spectrum until I realised the three washed stones, stacked in order of size in threes everywhere, is actually about zen and meditation.

  21. I will take on anyone who has a go at the Tombliboos – their music is from the gods and they are the perfect trio. Macca Pacca, very weird – but when you see the size of this hemorrhoid it makes sense. I once got hammered on Pinky Ponk Juice in Dry Bar – its awesome. If it comes back next year take the baby to see the live show; it’s superb

  22. The moving bed and knicker-flashing are weird. The pontypines need to learn about contraception and keep an eye on all their kids! I don’t know how they manage to make all those kids when they all share a room. Ninky nonk and pinky ponk just sound rude!

  23. Reblogged this on The (mal)Contented Mother and commented:

    Last year I wrote a post about the weirdness of In the Night Garden. Now I hear that bloody BuzzFeed have jumped on the band wagon. Well, you feeders of buzz, I’m hear to tell you that, whilst it is mind boggingly odd, ITNG is certainly not “a surrealist orgy of sex and death”, come one people, we have to draw the line somewhere. So, Dear Reader, here’s my (orignal) post and here’s the one from BuzzFeed. http://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/in-the-night-garden-is-a-surreal-orgy-of-sex-and-dea#.ohvYeVrDwj

    But which is better? There’s only one way to find out. FIGHT!

  24. I know this is an old article, but what chips away at my sanity is the flower balls.. they are always the same colours, in the same order in any given scene – eg. a pink one in front of a red one, repeated throughout the wood while we watch whatever is going on

    Once it’s been seen it cannot be unseen, and I just want to know why, and what they were trying to achieve by doing it.

      • My son has gone off ITNG as well and moved onto Bing (he even woke in the middle of the night when he had the cold and asked for it on) and ruff ruff,tweet and dave…calls it uff uff and day,seems hes not a fan of tweet 😀 xx

      • I have just read this about ITNG which luckly we never have to watch that often (dinner bath bed time) but ruff ruff, tweet and Dave. Does my head in. My 2 year old asks me at least a thousand times a day, what day is it ask the hat ask the hat, and then calls me hattie. DAVE!!!!! Is my main bug bare… Maybe pandas dont make a sound but why choose a panda then? What would have been wrong with ruff ruff, tweet and squeak (a mouse)? The ending is another killer…. Here’s one last question… Who will fall asleep first? DAVE!!!!!! It’s always bloody Dave. I have screamed this at the TV on occasion which my 2 year old repeated beautifully. I’ve also read you waybaloos worst programme on cbeebies post….. Ummm are you not watching Melody?!? My daughter goes mental for it comes running when she hears the music. Shes a spoilt little madam with a stick (does she need the stick she seems fine don’t get it) her mum gives into her every whim. On that note… Woolly and Tight, she’s another brat. I’m sure cbeebies is partial to blame for my daughters attitude thinking she can do what she wants and mummy’s just say it’s ok. Topsy and Tims mum (the bbc’s wh**e… Go to woman when they can’t find anyone else) also needs to sort out her parenting skills and invest in a naughty step.

  25. So glad it’s not just me that is really bothered about the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk changing in size! Why can’t they remain at a constant size. And yes Iglepigle and Uppsy Daisy really need to get together or see other people (suspense is killing me! Lol)
    And tbh whoever thought up In the Night Garden needs to be committed. Most bizarre idea and ‘storylines’ for a show……..and that’s saying something!

  26. Is this article and conversation for real? And here I thought there was something wrong with me having obsessive thoughts about this show!
    This show has often left me wanting to install a screen in the nursery and play it to the baby every night at bedtime FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. It has an excellent, peaceful bedtime routine which even makes me fall asleep.
    I once tried to talk to my husband about it and the only opinion I could get out of him was that he finds all of them creepy. Now that’s a bit harsh. And about Macca Pacca being sad, I actually feel there are varying degrees of sadness to pretty much all the characters here, MP being the saddest.
    Anyway, how I stumbled upon this article was from a Google search trying to find out if the haa hoos have been recently renamed because I did not remember hearing that name on the show, and had a sneaky suspicion that maybe they were called hoo haas before.
    Best comment on this thread is the one about the Wottingers’ political views, that has come from a serious thinking mind.

  27. Thank the Lord I’m not the only one who watches his ridiculous show religiously and obsesses over these things. I have watched on the night garden every day for the past 1 and a half years. Every. single. Day. Sometimes multiple times as its a powerful sleep tool for my son. I CANT STAND the fact that the ninky nonk changes size. Does my bloody head in. And as far as the theory that was fore mentioned of the garden being a dying dream of iggle piggle and the charters being hallucinations. And when the narrator says ‘come on iggle piggle, it’s time to go’ he’s being called to leave his earthly being. IT THROUGHLY DISTUBED ME and at 2am, settling my crying son watching this show, it will be all I can think of. Saying that, I can’t wait to tell my husband and see what he makes of it all

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  30. This article is spot on. I too love Makka Pakka, when I first saw it I kept asking why and what (the hell!) I Googled and read various theories, one of which all the characters are some sort of creature: Pontipines & Wottingers = ants
    Makka Pakka = slug (or was that the Tombliboos?)
    Upsy Daisy = spider
    Iggle was some sort of Japanese fish that swims in his own subconscious which is the night garden thus meaning he can’t ever go to sleep with the gang or that would mean he would be dead.
    Anyhow, my friends and family threatened to disown me so I just try and accept it as a kids show!
    We went to see it live and it really was magical; all the little faces lit up.
    P.S titifers – I mean REALLY what a name!

  31. I love the comments that all you folks have left. Many putting my thoughts into better poetic prose.
    As with all Kids TV, there has to be something for the grown up audience. I was going to write adult but others have pursued that.
    I have only watched two or three episodes because I find it somewhat sad in a melancholic way. The thought of a teddy lost on the ocean and his determined face when he puts the sail up is a depressing start to the show. There is a loneliness to many of the characters, Apart from the families, they have very solitary existences and being alone at bed time. Very young children do live in a somewhat solitary world. My views for what they are worth:
    Iggle piggle is clearly the main character, he is in the opening and closing titles.
    Upsie Daisy is not what my Gran would call a nice or suitable girl. “No better than she should be”
    Makka Pakka is not of sound mind.
    The families have been discussed in different ways. Class and opportunity are divided. Could there be something darker behind this? Older readers may remember how at the end of Chigley, the workers from the biscuit factory came out of work and danced nicely for the pleasure of his lordship. Made me annoyed even as a youngster.
    Also, much has been written on the drug culture of the magic roundabout.
    Rosie and Jim also featured mature content.
    Again another great thread malcontented mother. Thank you for getting this going 🙂

  32. There is another big question that I want answered. Who is riding in the rear carriage of the Ninky-Nonk when it’s the vehicle that opens up the show? It’s definitely occupied – check it out… and then tell me who it is!

  33. wow lol i can’t believe how much time you have spent dicecting this show, yeah it’s a little weird, but the length this person has gone to to write so much about the program, you must be really bored and sad lol.. it’s a kids show ! lol and it gets mine to sleep, it works just like your write up did for me zzzz 😴 thanks

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