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Note: The first rule of being a foreign operative: maintain your cover. Fortunately for vigilant spotters like us, the siren call of money has brought the Teletubbies -- or, should we say, Telepuziki -- into the open. We're through the looking glass!

Teletubbies Ready to Frolic in Russia

November 12, 2000 9:58 am EST

MOSCOW (Reuters) - "Say Eh-Oh." The Teletubbies are coming to Russia.

Thousands of Russian children and their parents flocked to a Teletubbies launch party in a central Moscow department store on Sunday where they could watch samples of the show on a giant television screen and buy Teletubbies merchandise.

Russian children will soon be able to join toddlers the world over in watching the adventures of the brightly colored baby-talking creatures after state broadcaster RTR bought all 365 episodes from BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the publicly-funded UK broadcaster.

"I really like the Teletubbies, I think they are really friendly," said Katia, 5.

The BBC says the hit show, which began in Britain in 1997, last year became the world's most popular program for pre-school age children.

The plump creatures, with televisions inlaid in their stomachs and aerials on their heads, start each program with the words "Eh-Oh" -- Teletubby-speak for hello.

They have brought in around $143 million over three years, driven mostly by merchandise.

"This is a unique program that has been made for a unique demographic -- that of the under-fours," Mark Young, BBC Worlwide executive director for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, told a news conference.

The Teletubbies, or Telepuziki in Russian, will retain their English names -- Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po -- but the programs will be dubbed into Russian and live inserts of children playing are to be recorded locally.

The series, which revolves around the four cuddly creatures living in their Tubbytronic Superdome with a pet vacuum cleaner called Noonoo, is now shown by 85 television companies in 35 languages and 120 countries, the BBC said.

"I think they will soon be a part of all our lives. Everyone loves it, it's good children's entertainment," said RTR General Director Alexander Akopov.

BBC Worldwide has attributed the 15 percent rise in revenues it saw last financial year in part to sustained demand for children's programs such as Teletubbies among overseas broadcasters.