Teletubbies safe from Polish probe

Tony Grew May 30, 2007
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Poland’s ombudsman for children’s rights has said she will not be asking state psychologists to examine the BBC children’s programme Teletubbies for a gay subtext.

Ewa Sowinska has been widely mocked since she said in a magazine interview that the popular show might not be suitable for public television because one of the ostensibly male characters, Tinky Winky, carries a handbag.

Ms Sowinska is a member of the League of Polish Families, a political party which is part of the country’s coalition government.

Party leader Roman Giertych is education minister, and has repeatedly expressed homophobic views.

He intends to introduce legislation similar to Section 28 in the UK, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools.

Ms Sowinska’s spokeswoman Wieslawa Lipinska told AP that the ombudsman does not intend to ask psychologists to examine the programme for signs it encourages homosexuality.

“They are fictional characters, they have nothing to do with reality, and the bag and scissors and other props the fictional characters use are there to create a fictional world that speaks to children,” Ms Lipinska said.

“We are not going to deal with this issue any more.”

The BBC had previously rubbished any implication that the show had a hidden agenda, pointing out that many children of both sexes like to play with bags.

Teletubbies was produced in the UK between 1997 and 2001, and won a BAFTA in 1998.

It is still broadcast all over the world, to the delight of both its pre-school target audience and adult admirers.

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