Noddy is a fictional character created by English children's author Enid Blyton, originally published between 1949 and 1963. Television shows based on the character have run on British television since 1955 and continue to appear to this day.
Noddy is a little wooden puppet who lives in his own little House-for-One in Toyland.
The first book explains Noddy's origins. He was made by a woodcarver in a toy store but ran away after the man began to make a wooden lion, which scared Noddy. As he wanders through the woods, with no clothes, money or home, he meets Big Ears, a friendly brownie. Big Ears decides that Noddy is a toy and takes him to live in Toyland. He generously provides Noddy with a set of clothing and a house. While Noddy is quite happy to be a toy, the citizens of Toyland are not sure that he actually is one. They put Noddy on trial and examine whether he is a toy or an ornament. Eventually, Noddy is declared a toy, but still has to convince the court that he is a good toy. The judge accepts that Noddy is good after a doll tells the court that he saved her little girl from a lion, and he is allowed to stay in Toyland. Noddy gets his car in the second book. It is given to him after he helps solve a local mystery.
As a self-employed taxi driver, Noddy loves driving his friends around Toytown in his little red and yellow taxi. The other toys can hear him coming by the distinctive "Parp, Parp" sound of his taxi's horn and the jingle of the bell on his blue hat. Often he uses his car to visit all of the places in Toytown. When his taxi business is not doing so well, or when he needs help, Noddy turns to Big Ears. Big Ears will often lend him what he needs. On occasion, Noddy will allow people to make his head nod, in exchange for small items, like his morning milk.
Noddy's constant companion and household pet is the exuberant "Bumpy Dog". Bumpy accompanies Noddy on almost all his adventures.
Noddy is kind and honest, but he often gets in trouble, either through his own misunderstandings, or because someone (usually the naughty goblins Sly and Gobbo) has played a trick on him. He is very childlike in his understanding of the world and often becomes confused as a result. For example, in the first Noddy book, Noddy and Big Ears are building Noddy's house for one. Noddy suggests that they build the roof first, in case it rains. With no understanding of gravity or of the need for roof supports, this is perfectly logical to him. As the series continues, Noddy becomes wiser but without losing his charm and lovable naivety.
Noddy's best friends are Big Ears, Tessie Bear, Bumpy Dog and the Tubby Bears. Tessie is a gentle hearted, gold bear who often wears a bonnet with flowers and a skirt. She is very kind and very loving towards all of her friends and neighbours. Bumpy Dog is Tessie's pet. He loves to run up and "bump" people over. Noddy frequently gets annoyed with Bumpy but still likes him. Whenever Noddy threatens Bumpy, Tessie gets upset, and sometimes even begins to cry. The Tubby Bears live next door to Noddy. They are gold and chubby teddy bears. Mr. and Mrs. Tubby Bear frequently help Noddy. It is clear that Mr. and Mrs. Tubby Bear are the superiors of Noddy, as if he were a child. Their first names are never mentioned and Noddy always refers to them as Mr. and Mrs. They have one son, also named Tubby, who is occasionally referred to as Master Tubby. Tubby is naughty and is usually in trouble for breaking rules, being rude, or doing something wrong. Noddy often attempts to scold or punish Tubby, with little result. On one occasion, Tubby gets tired of always being bossed around and being punished and decides to run away to sea. Noddy and Bumpy accidentally join with him. By the end of the journey, Tubby misses his parents and brings them back presents from his trip, as an apology.
Noddy has many run-ins with PC Plod, the local policeman. Some are caused by Noddy's lack of understanding of how Toyland works. Other times it is because of a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Plod is generally long-suffering towards Noddy and Noddy likes Mr. Plod and frequently goes out of his way to help him. Mr. Plod often catches the mischief makers on his police bicycle, by blowing his whistle and shouting "Halt, in the name of Plod!!" before locking the culprits up in his jail.
- Big-Ears, a wise, bearded brownie who lives in a toadstool house outside of Toytown.
- Mr Plod (called PC Plod in some versions), the Toytown policeman. He is a good friend of Noddy and thinks Toytown can't live without him.
- Bumpy Dog, in the original books, lives with Tessie Bear, but accompanies Noddy on many adventures. Noddy first met the Bumpy Dog in Toytown because he was injured and Noddy used his scarf to help him. Noddy felt he was unable to have Bumpy Dog live with him, so Tessie Bear offered to keep him.
- Mr Wobbly Man, a funny little man who cannot lie down. He has a round base which he wobbles about on. He rocks back and forth to get around.
- Master Tubby Bear, Mr and Mrs Tubby Bear's son, and is sometimes called Bruiny. Though he was naughty in the books and older television series, he was better behaved in Make Way for Noddy.
- Mr Tubby Bear, Noddy's next door neighbour. First name unknown.
- Mrs Tubby Bear, Noddy's next door neighbour, it is clear that she, like Mr Tubby Bear, are the superiors of Noddy, as if they are adults and he is a child, mainly because Noddy always refers to them as "Mr and Mrs Tubby Bear". First name unknown.
- Teddy Tubby Bear, Mr Tubby Bear's brother, Mrs Tubby Bear's brother-in-law and Master Tubby Bear's uncle, who appeared in the third book, Noddy and His Car.
- Clockwork Mouse, a toy mouse who often requires winding up.
- Dinah Doll, a china doll who sells all kinds of everything in the market. A later addition, not in the original books.
- Tessie Bear, A clever and kind teddy bear and a great friend of Noddy.
- Mr Sparks, Toyland's handyman, who can mend anything. His favourite catchphrase is "A Challenge? I Like it!"
- Mr Golly, in the books is the owner of the Toyland garage. He was replaced by Mr Sparks in the TV series in the early 1990s.
- Miss Harriet the Pink Cat (aka Miss Pink Cat), a cat who sells ice cream. She is portrayed as a fussy and neat cat with a French accent and no patience for foolishness, even her own.
- Mr Jumbo, an elephant friendly with Clockwork Mouse.
- The Skittles, a family consisting of Sally Skittle and her many children of various sizes. Skittles are red and yellow in colour with black hands. The skittles love being knocked down. They frequently run out in front of Noddy's car so he will hit them and knock them over.
- Twinkly, a star who appeared in the episode "Catch a Falling Star".
- Little-Ears, Big-Ears' brother who looks just like Big-Ears, but his ears are much smaller. He lives in a very tidy toadstool.
- Bunkey, a thoroughly mischievous character, who purports to be half bunny and half monkey. He is later exposed as a fraudulent monkey who escaped from a travelling circus.
- Sly and Gobbo, mischievous goblins. They usually steal things such as ice cream, coins or Noddy's car.
- Clockwork Clown, a toy clown who makes funny tricks. He stands only using his hands not his feet because he has "fused" feet like those of a sea lion.
- Martha Monkey, a mischievous tomboy who replaced naughty schoolboy Gilbert Golly.
- Miss Prim, the school mistress who replaced the slipper-wielding Miss Rap.
- Mr Milko, the local milkman.
- Mr Train Driver, train driver who drives the Toyland Express train.
- Sneaky and Stealthy, Sly and Gobbo's cousins, who appear in later versions of the television show.
The original Noddy stories featured golliwogs – black-faced woollen dolls. These dolls were popular in the UK at the time the stories were written, but were later seen as racial stereotypes and retired. They were replaced by a variety of other characters from 1989 onwards. Some long-time fans have decried the changes as part of "political correctness".
Cover of the first Noddy story Noddy Goes To Toyland, published in 1949
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Early Noddy books have become collectibles, along with other Blytons. The total number is hard to count: the Noddy Library (Sampson Low) of two dozen titles, which became the New Noddy Library when revised, was just part of a big production in the 1950s, with Big Noddy Books of larger format, and strip books. There were numerous spin-offs, also. Widely differing estimates can be found.
Sales of Noddy books are large, with an estimated 600,000 annual sales in France alone, and growing popularity in India, a large market for Blyton books. The Noddy character was formerly owned by Chorion, who sold the rights on to DreamWorks Classics in 2012.
- Noddy Goes to Toyland (1949)
- Hurrah for Little Noddy (1950)
- Noddy and His Car (1951)
- Here Comes Noddy Again! (1951)
- Well Done Noddy! (1952)
- Noddy Goes to School (1952)
- Noddy at the Seaside (1953)
- Noddy Gets into Trouble (1954)
- Noddy and the Magic Rubber (1954)
- You Funny Little Noddy (1955)
- Noddy Meets Father Christmas (1955)
- Noddy and Tessie Bear (1956)
- Be Brave, Little Noddy! (1956)
- Noddy and the Bumpy-Dog (1957)
- Do Look Out, Noddy (1957)
- You're a Good Friend, Noddy (1958)
- Noddy Has an Adventure (1958)
- Noddy Goes to Sea (1959)
- Noddy and the Bunkey (1959)
- Cheer Up, Little Noddy! (1960)
- Noddy Goes to the Fair (1960)
- Mr. Plod and Little Noddy (1961)
- Noddy and the Tootles (1962)
- Noddy and the Aeroplane (1963)
On 17 November 2008, it was announced that Enid Blyton's granddaughter, Sophie Smallwood, was to write a new Noddy book to celebrate the character's 60th birthday. Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle (2009) was illustrated by Robert Tyndall, who has drawn the characters in the Noddy books since 1953, ever since the death of the original illustrator, Harmsen van der Beek.
Television productions and incarnations
In the 1990s and early 2000s TV series, as well as a new series of books, Noddy has been updated, with the original Golliwog characters replaced by other sorts of toys. For example, Mr. Golly who ran the Toyland garage was replaced by Mr. Sparks who in the new 2004 version of the series appears to be Scottish, and Dinah Doll, described as "a black, assertive minority female", was added to the franchise by the BBC during the 1992–1994 series.
- The Adventures of Noddy (1955–1963)
- The Further Adventures of Noddy (1963–1975)
- Noddy (1975–82)
- Noddy's Toyland Adventures (1992–1999)
- The Noddy Shop (1998–2000)
- Make Way for Noddy (2002–2008)
- Say It With Noddy (2005)
- Noddy in Toyland (2009–2014)
- Noddy, Toyland Detective (2016)
Noddy first appeared on stage at the 2660-seat Stoll Theatre in Kingsway, London, in 1954. The very large cast were all children or teenagers, mostly from the Italia Conti acting school. There was a full theatre orchestra. The finale was a scene at the "Faraway Tree", with many of the children dressed as fairies, flying on wires. It ran for several years, but the Stoll was knocked down and replaced by an office block in the late 1950s. The Peacock Theatre was built in the basement of the new building, but Noddy did not return.
It is doubtful if the 1954 show would make a comeback due to the high budget and new laws concerning child labour. In addition, some of the content in the show would be considered offensive by modern standards, such as the Golliwogs mugging the townspeople and Mr Plod hitting troublemakers with his truncheon at regular intervals (with sound effects from the pit).
In 1993, a stage production of Noddy opened at Wimbledon Theatre, followed by a long UK national tour, including a Christmas season in London at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and was released on VHS Video in 1994. The production was presented by Clarion Productions. The production was written and directed by David Wood with scene and costume designs by Susie Calcutt. The original cast included Eric Potts as Big Ears and Karen Briffett as Noddy. The show was very well received among critics, audiences and even Enid Blyton's daughter Gillian Baverstock. David Wood adapted a successful sequel to the play entitled "Noddy and the Tootle" which opened at the Wimbledon Theatre and endured on a long UK National Tour in 1995–1996. Karen Briffett reprised her role as Noddy and Big Ears was played by Jonathan Broxholme. This production was too presented by Clarion Productions.
The characters returned between September 2003 and January 2004 for a computer-animated series, which was eventually named Make Way for Noddy. This was created by Chorion, on Five, and the episodes were filmed from 2001 to 2004 externally. It originally aired in 12-minute segments as part of the Milkshake! programme on Britain's Channel 5.
In the autumn of 2004, a set of 100 new 2-minute TV interstitials were created by Chorion. These interstitials, entitled Say it With Noddy, feature Noddy learning words in a variety of foreign languages. They also introduced Noddy's new friend Whizz from Robot Village, who presses a button on his chest to play recordings of native speakers saying the new foreign words Noddy was to learn.
A CG animated series, called Noddy In Toyland, was made in 2009 by Chorion, produced by Brown Bag Films in Ireland. The series features much more detailed faces for Big Ears and Mr. Plod, a new wardrobe for Tessie Bear, and incorporates Whizz as a full-time character. Sly and Gobbo's cousins, Sneaky and Stealth, are introduced and usually work alongside them. The full series is available digitally on iTunes.
A CG animated series, named Noddy, Toyland Detective was produced by French producer/distributor Gaumont Animation, in association with DreamWorks Animation Television, and in partnership with France Télévisions. It premiered on Channel Five's preschool block Milkshake! on April 18, 2016.
There was a spoof page of "Noddy-ana" in Hot Rod magazine (U.K.), in about 1976–78; Noddy had a hot rod, and Big Ears smoked, and was very disrespectful to Mr. Plod.
In Alan Moore's series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Toyland is a real nation located in the Arctic Circle. The King and Queen of Toyland are Frankenstein's Monster and Olympia from The Tales of Hoffmann.
Noddy being associated with small children's reading has led to "Noddy" being sometimes used as an adjective meaning "petty or trivial" (compare with "Mickey Mouse"), for example, in computer programming: "This simultaneous linear equation subroutine crashes out on the Noddy case when n = 1, but otherwise it works." or "Remember to check all the Noddy cases."
- Pilgrim, David. "The Golliwog Caricature". The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Ferris State University. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Noddy returning for 60th birthday", News vote, UK: BBC
- "Noddy in Toyland at the Stoll", The Times (UK), Dec 24, 1954.
- Hartley, Ian. Goodnight Children ... Everywhere. (New York, Hippocrene: 1993) ISBN 0-88254-892-1