|Created by||Casey Dobie|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||65|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Sesame Workshop
Pepper's Ghost Productions Ltd.
|Original channel|| CITV
|Original release||10 June 2001– 21 December 2002|
Tiny Planets is a British television series created by Casey Dobie.
The television series consists of 65 five-minute dialogue-free episodes featuring two small furry aliens travelling their universe solving a specific problem each episode. It is actively licensed worldwide for broadcast and video distribution.
Deep in the heart of the Tiny Universe lies the Home Planet where the main characters, Bing and Bong, make their home. These two explorers are catapulted to the surrounding worlds in their solar system on a fluffy white sofa where they explore, learn about the inhabitants, develop friendships and have fun.
Each episode encourages children to make their own discoveries as they solve problems. The program’s aim is to help examination of how things work, strengthen observation skills, consider underlying relationships and identify and test new ideas.
Cast of characters
Bing is older and much larger than Bong. His enormous appetite for exploring is dwarfed only by the endless supply of useful gadgets in an ever-present pouch. Wise and determined, he often takes the lead in adventures. Patient and thoughtful, he loves nothing more than a problem to be solved or a job to be done. He likes to help others and has an optimistic approach to life and its problems. He doesn’t speak, but communicates with body language, expressive eyebrows, and humming sounds.
Bong, the smaller one, is appealing, coy, impulsive, and a bundle lover of energy. Impish, playful, gregarious and incredibly compassionate, he is especially miserable when on bad terms with Bing. He loves to join in games and be the center of attention. He doesn’t speak but has an expressive face and body, a high-pitched sound (which is cross between a grunt and a squeak), and a multi-decibel cry of joy.
Flockers live on each of the Tiny Planets, each with its own distinctive population. More often than not, it’s these social creatures that Bing & Bong are helping out of a jam. Whether it’s cleaning out-of-reach windows or fortifying a house to withstand wind, Flockers are a perpetual source of problems begging to be solved. They do not speak, but communicate with body language and call sounds. Their design varies depending on the planet; they have either one or two heads and either one or two legs. Only a few have arms.
Locals are smaller inhabitants of the planets and can appear in greater numbers than the Flockers but are just as dim. They are mostly globular in shape with blinking eyes and little antennae on top of their heads. They communicate by bouncing, blinking and squeaking. On certain planets, the Locals are geometric shapes: squares, circles and triangles. Locals are always colorful, appealing and friendly.
Robots are segmented spherical creatures with mechanical arms and either wheels or helicopter rotors. Found mostly on the Planet of Technology, like all robots, they are linear thinkers attempting to multitask. They are there to help but do not always take instructions well. Thus they are a challenge and Bing and Bong learn to work with them to get the best out of them.
Halley, named after the comet, is a small wide-eyed alien who provides a running commentary from her flying saucer and “films” the action with a remote camera to provide a summary at the end of each of the television episodes. Halley was added in the US version that aired on Nickelodeon's Noggin channel between 2002 and 2005 to make the otherwise non-verbal story clearer to older audiences (the younger audiences understood fine even without her). Halley is also the only character that speaks.
There are six tiny planets that Bing and Bong travel to, in addition to their home planet.
Bing and Bong live inside the home planet. From here they set out every morning on a new adventure. It is an icy world, covered in snow-capped ice floes. Inside one of these is Bing and Bong's home, decorated in a steampunk idiom, with much brass work. The main and most notable feature is the fluffy white sofa that doubles as both their bed and their means of intergalactic travel. Tethered to the Home Planet by a bungee cord it is launched into space by a monstrous catapult.
Planet of Light & Color
Bing and Bong discover rainbows, shadow play, animation and color mixing. This is an environment where Bing and Bong explore optical phenomena. Around the planet there is a wide, circular, semi-transparent band inlaid with parallel strips of ever-changing colors. The landscape is similar to a desert, and the most notable features are the bullet-shaped rock pillars with faint colored spots on them.
Planet of Nature
Bing and Bong discover weather, the seasons, the power of wind and the way rain turns to snow. This is a verdant and lush world, with trees, lakes, mountains and flowers. The seasons there are much like a temperate part of the Earth, with snow in winter, hot sun in summer and falling leaves in autumn.
Planet of Stuff
Bing and Bong explore groups of things and what they’re made of. They play with patterns and numbers and sort things by color, shape and sound. The planet is shaped like a gigantic Möbius strip and patterned like pink-and-blue graph paper; hence, this is where Bing and Bong solve problems involving arithmetics, logic and geometry.
Planet of Sound
Bing and Bong join bands, play tubas, beat on drums and experiment with rhythm, harmony, pitch and acoustics. This is a rocky desert, with odd flora such as Pitch-Plants (extendible flutes that can be blown), maraca leaves and self-playing Tom-tom trees. Flockers and Locals often hold concerts here. The planet is blue from orbit, and is surrounded by a swarm of small asteroids which spiral from pole to pole.
Planet of Self
Bing and Bong encounter fitness, cleanliness and healthy eating and learn more about themselves and others. This is a loose cluster of rocky outcrops floating in a sunny atmosphere, linked by rows of stepping-stones. There are pagoda-like pavilions and a sports arena here, and local transport is by sky-boat. Lessons of health and good manners are learned here.
Planet of Technology
Bing and Bong design gadgets to discover the properties of springs, wheels, levers, pulleys, balance, friction, gears and structures. The planet consists of a massive detailed brass sphere, with four tethered satellites: two cubes and two spheres. The action takes place inside this planet, with an emphasis on structures and principles of physics.
A website featuring the characters from the show was launched in May 2001 at the address www.tinyplanets.com. The virtual world provides challenging games, activities and graphics which allow players to customize their world.
The kernel of the idea for Tiny Planets was written by Casey Dobie and then developed out by a small in-house team including Richard Davis and Antony Hatfield and led by Andy Park (former commissioning editor at the BBC and Channel 4). Ed Taylor produced the first designs for Bing and Bong. Richard Morss then took on the project as in-house producer.
The project caught the eye of Julian Scott and the late Nina Elias-Bamberger at Sesame Workshop. The resulting project, produced by Richard Morss and directed by Alistair Mcilwain, took 20 months to produce in co-production with Sesame Workshop. All production took place in the company’s studios in the UK.
Tiny Planets is privately held by My Tiny Planets Ltd. The original concept was conceived in 1998. The television series was produced from 1999 until 2001 in a co-production with Sesame Workshop. It has been honored with multiple awards including three BAFTA Awards for entertainment website and for interactive. In addition it was nominated for two additional BAFTAs for preschool animation and online learning. The show was also the first television show to be endorsed by Montessori Centre International.
The production was ambitious from the outset being one of the first television series to feature high quality computer graphics including Bing & Bong’s CGI generated fur. Carl Goodman, technical art director at the time, specified the techniques and full equipment specification to use and also produced the www.tinyplanets.com website with a small dedicated team.