Over the course of four years and nearly 400 episodes, John Simmit played the green Teletubby, Dipsy, to the delight of children and stoned adults alike. While these viewers clapped their hands together in relaxed, foggy-brained joy at home, the actors responsible for bringing the ’Tubbies to life had a much harder time, dealing with, as Simmit recalls, stinking, sweat-soaked suits and giant rabbits that could not, would not, stop fucking on set.
In an interview with Huffington Post UK, Simmit looked back at living within the nexus of Teletubbies mania. Many of his memories from the time are just plain nice: He talks about using “Jamaican dance moves” and phrases in homage to his culture while playing Dipsy and believes people think back on the show with a happy feeling like reminiscing about going on “an old holiday with friends.”
But, not everything about the production was easy for Simmit and his fellow ’Tubbies. “Running around in a three-stone [42 pounds] and 8-foot-tall bright green costume in the summer is not fun,” he says. Simmit describes the Teletubbies’ constant jumping, rolling, and squats as “a massive workout” and says he “had a six-pack at the time.” Aside from that benefit, the inside of the suits sounds like a medieval torture device. Simmit says he and his castmates “had to wear really ugly underwear” like long johns when in costume in order to absorb their torrents of sweat.
“When we were out of costume, you’d have to turn your face the other way and speak to us at a distance because we were reeking and so sweaty you could wring us out,” he says.
And there were also “these Flemish giant rabbits” on set, used by the show to make the Teletubbies look small in perspective. As the article explains, the rabbits reportedly “mated so regularly that takes regularly had to be interrupted and reshot to avoid any untoward humping.”
Knowing all of this, it seems impossible to ever watch Teletubbies again without picturing what went into its production. Just behind the childish antics of the four alien puppets, there are jacked, dehydrated actors trapped in a hot swamp of their own creation, struggling to pretend to be joyful creatures as they roll down a hill for another take because the giant rabbits around them keep ruining the shots by banging each other.
For more reflections on this, the bizarre life of a Teletubby, read the rest of the article.
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