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Bananas in Pyjamas
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Bananas in Pyjamas in July 20, 1992

Series

8

Bananas in Pyjamas is an Australian children's television series that premiered on 20 July 1992 on ABC. It has since become syndicated in many different countries, and dubbed into other languages. In the United States, the "Pyjamas" in the title was modified to reflect the American spelling pajamas. This aired in syndication from 1995 to 1997 as a half-hour series, then became a 15-minute show paired with a short-lived 15-minute series The Crayon Box, under a 30-minute block produced by Sachs Family Entertainment titled Bananas in Pajamas & The Crayon Box. Additionally, the characters and a scene from the show were featured in the Kids for Character sequel titled Kids for Character: Choices Count. The pilot episode was Pink Mug.

The concept was inspired by the success of the song Bananas in Pyjamas, written by Carey Blyton in 1967, on Play School. This song, which had become a regular item on Play School, became the theme of the new series.

In 1997, Bumping & A Jumping, an album based on the show, was released. The series was revamped in May 2011 as a CGI animated series created by Southern Star Entertainment.

Summary

The main characters are two anthropomorphic bananas named B1 and B2. Other characters include the three teddy bears Amy, Lulu and Morgan, and Rat in a Hat. The bananas, the teddies and Rat in a Hat all live in the same neighbourhood, a cul-de-sac called "Cuddles Avenue". The bananas live next to the beach and serve as beach patrol. The teddies live next to and look after the park. Rat in a Hat works and lives at the community store. The characters enjoy eating "munchy honeycakes" and "yellow jelly".

Production

Inspiration

The characters were inspired by a 1969 song written for children by British composer Carey Blyton (nephew of renowned children's author Enid Blyton). The jaunty song describes (an unspecified number of) bananas in pyjamas chasing teddy bears, with a slight twist at the end where a musical sting emphasises that the bananas like to "catch them unawares". The song was shown on the Australian version of Play School for many years accompanied by an animation depicting pairs of bananas in blue-and-white striped pyjamas. This led to a "banana" plush toy being created as part of the "toy cast", which formed the basis of the physical appearance of B1 and B2.

Filming

Creator, producer and showrunner Helena Harris devised the content of the ABC program. Two of the bear characters, Amy and Morgan, are named after Helena Harris's children. The show was performed using human actors in elaborate costumes, in the style of the British Tweenies and Teletubbies. In the show's early days, the voices of the bananas were provided by the same actors as were inside the costume, but the original actors eventually gave up that aspect of the show and substitutes manned the hot, stuffy costumes. The show aired new episodes from its 1992 debut to its eventual run in syndication in 2002. The show aired approximately three hundred episodes as well as four specials. Its debut in the United States was in 1995. It made videos and other media from 1995 to 1999. A toy line, developed by TOMY, debuted in 1996.

On 2 May 2011, a new version of Bananas in Pyjamas, produced by Southern Star Entertainment in full CGI, was premiered on ABC2 in Australia; it was shown in other countries soon after that date. It contains new songs, stories, and characters, including Topsy the cheeky kangaroo, Charlie the inventive monkey and Bernard the wise old dog. Development of the new series commenced in 2009, and production started in early 2010. The new series contains 104 12-minute episodes.[1][2]

On 6 June 2013, there was speculation that production of the show was ceasing, as the animated version of the program had not produced enough revenue to justify the cost of making a fourth season.[3] The ABC quickly refuted the claims and a spokeswoman said a decision on whether there will be another series will be made towards the end of 2013.[4][5]

Catchphrases

The bananas are noted for their common catchphrase, often said when the duo get an idea where they bump into each other and say: "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, B1?" "I think I am, B2! It's [Bananas' ideas] time!". Rat in a Hat also has three catchphrases, "Oh, cheese and whiskers!", usually stated when he has not succeeded at a task; "Trust me, I'm a rat!" when trying to deceive other characters; and "I'm a rat, I'm a rat, I'm a clever clever rat", which he sings when he thinks of a good idea. Given the age of the target audience, chasing teddy bears is not usually a plot line for the show itself, and when it is depicted, it is usually in a playful manner. More often, the bananas engage in activities in singing, dancing, and playing with the other characters, and bantering with each other.

Characters

Main characters

  • B1 the Banana: Duncan Wass (1992), Ken Radley (1992– 2001), Michael James (2001), and then Stephen Shanahan (2011–2013),[6] Richard McCourt (2011–2013)
  • B2 the Banana: Nicholas Opolski (1992-2001), Benjamin Blaylock (2001), and then Daniel Wyllie, Dominic Wood (2011–13)
  • Amy the Teddy Bear: Sandie Lillingston (1992), Mary-Ann Henshaw (1992–2001), and then Isabella Dunwill (2011–13) (AU Version) Anjella Mackintosh (UK Version)
  • Lulu the Teddy Bear: Taylor Owynns (1992–2001) and then Ines Vaz de Sousa (2011–13) (AU Version) Jen Pringle (UK Version)
  • Morgan the Teddy Bear: Jeremy Scrivener (1992–2001), and then Troy Planet (AU Version),[7][8] Sophie Aldred (UK Version) (2011–13)
  • Rat in a Hat: Shane McNamara (1992–2013)[9]
  • Narrator: Karina Kelly (1992–2001)

Recurring characters

  • Bernard the Dog: Keith Buckley (2011–13)
  • Charlie the Monkey: Matthew Whittet (2011–13)
  • Kevin the Butterfly: Mal Heap (1992–93)
  • Maggie the Magpie: Emma De Vries (1994–2001)
  • Mrs Rat the Rat: Georgina Symes (2011–13)[10]
  • Tolstoy the Tortoise: Emma De Vries (1996–2001) and then John Leary (2011–13)[11]
  • Tomasina the Turtle: David Collins (1999–2001) and then Meaghan Davies (2011–13)
  • Topsy the Kangaroo: Roslyn Oades (2011–13)

Farm animals

  • Farm Animals puppeteers: Mal Heap, Terry Ryan & Emma De Vries (2001)
  • Camembert the Cow: Taylor Sweeney and then Eliza Logan (2011–2013)[12]
  • Pedro the Pig: Michael Phillips and then Anthony O'Donohue (2011–2013)[13]
  • Gregory the Chicken: Matthew Hudak
  • Peck the Duck: Aaron Oberst-Horner
  • Dolly the Sheep: Maura McGinley and then Olivia Pigeot (2011–2013)[14]
  • Flash the Fish: Jacob Matta

Episodes

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Home video releases

The series has been released to home video, originally for VHS, later also for DVD.

  • Birthday Special (1992)
  • Show Business (1993)
  • Hiccups (1993)
  • Monster Bananas (1994)
  • Big Parade (1994)
  • Special Delivery (1994)
  • Surf's Up! (1995)
  • Wish Fairies (1995)
  • It's Music Time! (1996)
  • Singing Time! (1997)
  • Dress Ups (1997)
  • Bumping-and-a-Jumping (1998)
  • Holiday Time (1998)
  • Fun Time! (1999)
  • Surprise Party (1999)
  • Rock-A-Bye Bananas (2000)
  • It's Games Time! (2000)
  • Story Time (2001)
  • Summertime (2001)
  • Celebration! (2002)
  • Dancing Daze (2002)
  • Farm Adventure! (2003)
  • Beat Box (2003)

Trivia

Bananas in Pyjamas Often Made Appearances in Another ABC Kid Show The Ferals For Example in Couch Potato Amy Made An Appearance On A Magazine And The Show Was Mentioned Twice And in Feral TV B1 Made An A Guest Appearance Along With Monica Trapaga The Singer Of The Theme Song And Other Famous Celebrities, in This Episode B1 Was Voiced By An Actor Named Ken Bromilow.

Cultural impact

The Bananas in Pyjamas were featured among other famous Australians during the parade of the closing ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics.[15]

In June 2011, toys depicting B1 and B2 were stolen by two people from the ABC building in Adelaide and returned 3 days later. Police returned the toys back to the ABC, later to charge the thieves.[16]

In 2017, the Royal Australian Mint produced a commemorative set containing five-cent and 20-cent coins to mark the 25th anniversary of Bananas and Pyjamas. The five-cent coin, which is coloured for the first time, depicts Rat-in-a-Hat, while the twenty-cent coin depicts B1 and B2.[17]


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