Eh-oh! – classic TV show Teletubbies is returning to the small-screen with the addition of a must-have 21st century gadget – a mobile-style phone voiced by Jane Horrocks.
The remake is due to air on CBeebies later this year, almost 20 years after Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po first arrived on TV screens.
Absolutely Fabulous actress Horrocks will voice new character the “tubby phone”, a gadget which is said to be “catapulting” the Teletubbies into the modern day.
Harry Potter star Jim Broadbent and DJ and presenter Fearne Cotton have also signed up for the show and will be heard coming through the voice trumpets that pop out of the ground.
Producers said the new series would feature the same characters and style as the original but with a “refreshed and contemporary look”.
The tubby phone, which will be fixed in the Teletubbies’ dome, is one of a number of “new elements” being introduced but it has not usurped the TV – the creatures will still have antennas on their heads and TV screens on their stomachs.
Stand-up comedian and Eric And Ernie actor Daniel Rigby will narrate the new series, while Sunshine On Leith actress Antonia Thomas will lend her voice to the opening and closing lines.
The original show – which spawned a chart-topping single Teletubbies Say Eh-oh! - was seen by around one billion children in over 100 countries following its launch in 1997.
But its co-creator, Anne Wood, said earlier this year that she would not watch its return and criticised TV bosses for reviving a glut of former children’s shows, from Thunderbirds to The Wombles.
Several classics, including Danger Mouse and Clangers, are being remade for today’s young audiences.
“I’m a bit sad. It comes down to the times we’re in,” Wood, who sold the rights to the show to raise money to make new programmes, said.
“People feel safer remaking hits of the past rather than investing in something new.”
Horrocks said that the new Teletubbies would be a hit with adults, as well as children.
“I am very excited to be playing the tubby phone in the new series. The series has a whole new feel to it,” she said.
“I think it’s hilarious and it will appeal to adults as much as it does children.”
Broadbent said: “Teletubbies is truly a British institution and it’s very exciting to be involved in bringing this global hit back to our TV screens.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the Teletubbies and giving them big hugs!”
Cotton, who recently announced that she is pregnant with her second child, said: “Teletubbies holds a special place in my heart so I’m honoured to be part of this well-loved TV show.
“As a mum, I am sure the new series will enthral a whole new generation of children across Britain and I will certainly be watching with my kids.”