‘I Slid In Jamaican Dance Moves’: We Meet The Teletubbies’ Dipsy

Dipsy was always the maverick of the Teletubbies, the one who refused to go along with the others. In many ways, he reflected John Simmit, the man inside the three-stone lime green suit, who proudly brought his heritage to the role.

“Being a Cuban-Jamaican-Brummie and coming from a comedy and music background, I used that to my advantage and there were a lot of cultural references,” Simmit tells HuffPost UK.

“Dipsy would say, ‘Papa Come Papa Come To Po’, which was actually my take on a classic reggae rhythm track called The Whip. And I’d slip in Jamaican dance moves, a Bogle there and a Tatty here. People spotted my little wink to my culture and I’m proud of that.”

The original Teletubbies, featuring the inimitable Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, launched in 1997 and aired in more than 120 countries and 45 languages. The show’s initial 365 episodes – which completed 20 years ago in February 2001 – inspired £1bn in merch sales. It was toddler TV gold.

The gang received the keys to New York City and even scored a hit single, Teletubbies say Eh-oh!, which was on track to be 1997 Christmas number one, only to be knocked off the top spot by Spice Girls. The rainbow fab four had reached the heights of Beatlemania – only it was less Yellow Submarine, more the lush rolling green hills of Teletubbyland.

“Running around in a three-stone and eight-foot tall bright green costume in the summer is not fun,” says stand-up comedian and DJ, Simmit, of clumping about the field in Stratford-upon-Avon where Teletubbies was originally filmed.

“At least I had a six-pack at the time. You had to roll up and down hills, squat, jump around and hug – you had to make it look like it was fun when in reality it was a massive workout.”

His efforts paid off – the BBC continues to airs old episodes of the much loved show, which also attracts up to 100 million YouTube views every month. In 2015 Teletubbies got a 21st century revival for tech-savvy toddlers. Still, there’s plenty to learn about one of the biggest kids’ TV shows ever. We asked Simmit some of the questions we’ve had since childhood, plus how it still impacts his life.

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