|Created by||Casey Dobie|
|Directed by||Alastair McIlwain|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||65 + 1 pilot|
Paul J. Michael|
|Running time||5 minutes|
Pepper's Ghost Productions Ltd.
|Original release||10 June 2001– 21 December 2002|
Tiny Planets is a British children's television series created by Casey Dobie. It is a co-production between Sesame Workshop and Pepper's Ghost Productions. The television series consists of 65 five-minute, dialogue-free episodes featuring two furred extraterrestrials travelling their universe and solving a specific problem each episode.
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 flying white sofa where they explore, learn about the inhabitants, develop friendships and have fun.
- 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 centre 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 do not speak, but they communicate by bouncing, blinking and squeaking. On certain planets, the Locals are geometric shapes: squares, circles and triangles. Locals are always colourful, 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 on Noggin between 2002 and 2006 and had dialogue for older audiences (the younger audiences understood fine even without her). Halley is also the only character that speaks, and is voiced by Kim Goody, the singer of the theme song.
There are six tiny planets that Bing and Bong travel to, in addition to their home planet.
- 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 & Colour – Bing and Bong discover rainbows, shadows, animation and colour 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 colours. The landscape is similar to a desert, and the most notable features are the bullet-shaped rock pillars with faint coloured spots on them.
- Planet of Nature – Bing and Bong discover weather, plants and animals, 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 colour, 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, feelings, and good manners are learned here.
- Planet of Technology – Bing and Bong design gadgets to discover the properties of springs, wheels, levers, pulleys, balance, forces, 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.
Tiny Planets was shown on ITV in its country of origin. On April 1, 2002, the original version with English graphics premiered on Noggin (now Nick Jr.) in the United States as 5-minute segments between shows; it was expanded to a half-hour show in early June 2004, and was shown until April 9, 2006. It also aired on ABC in Australia and CBC in Canada. Localized versions were aired on Super RTL in Germany, NRK in Norway, HRT in Croatia, NHK in Japan, UBC in Thailand, SBS in Korea, Astro Ria in Malaysia, Italia 1 in Italy, Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Televisa in Mexico.
Awards and nominations
The programme was nominated for several BAFTA awards. It won the 2002 BAFTA Interactive Children's Entertainment Award and was nominated for the 2001 BAFTA Interactive Award for Online Learning and the 2003 BAFTA Pre-school Animation Award. Additionally, a website based on the series was awarded the 2001 BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Website Award.
- "Tiny Planets go worldwide". BBC.co.uk. British Broadcasting Corporation. 8 April 2002.
- Taylor, Ed. "Ed Taylor Animations". EdTaylor.co.uk.
- Fraser, Fiona (19 April 2002). "Tiny Planets licensed throughout Europe and Japan". C21Media.net. C21 Media.
- Ball, Ryan (10 September 2003). "Tiny Planets Gets Big TV Marathon, Home Vid Bow". AnimationMagazine.net. Animation Magazine.
- "BAFTA Children's Interactive in 2002". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2002.
- "BAFTA Interactive Online Learning in 2001". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2001.
- "BAFTA Children's Pre-school Animation in 2003". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2003.
- "BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Website in 2001". BAFTA.org. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. 2001.