90’s cartoon classics: Pingu!- How did it all start and How did Pingu and his fellas speak Penguinese?


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We all would have enjoyed this cute little fella! Pingu! The show-stealer Pingu is so simple, naughty, hilarious and playful. Pingu is a Swiss-British stop-motion clay animated children’s comedy television series. This was created by Otmar Gutmann. The show’s plot seems simple and cover’s day to day happenings in a penguin family. The show was famous because of many reasons, but one of which is that people found the story more relatable to their real lives. In fact, I remember my mom nodding to the theme music of Pingu. Thus this cartoon not only grabbed the attention of kids but also the elders. I wish they could air the episodes of Pingu again! Let’s first listen to the Pingu theme song before knowing ‘how did it all start?’

The Making

The show was firstly aired on March 7, 1990. The show continued for up to six series. Each episode lasted for a duration of 5 minutes. Yet, the 5 minutes of what we see on the television, hides the untold efforts of the creation. The ‘making of the show’ is far more difficult than one could think. The second reason the show was a hit was because of attention to the details. The designer used to design each and every penguin using clay with proper measurements starting from beaks to feet. Moreover, for Pingu alone, the designer creates separate models for each and every expression. Also, he makes sure to complete all other elements in clay manually, that includes Igloo, skateboards, hats, wardrobe, and all other set materials. Afterward, the inventor Otmar Gutmann makes the trick recordings with the developed clay penguins. For example, Otmar while trying to record how penguin walks, marks the position of a penguin with his finger and take different shots at different camera angles. He does this repeatedly and joins all the photo clips together to form a film. And all other actions were done in a similar approach.

An invented Penguin Language – ‘Penguinese’
The third reason for which the show gained a lot number of audience is because of ‘No Language Barrier’. There’s no real spoken language in this series. All dialogues are in ‘Penguinese’ (a created Penguin Language). The dialogues consist of babbling, muttering, and the titular character’s characteristic sporadic loud honking noise, which can be popularly recognized as “Noot noot!” or other variants, stated to be “Noo, Noo!”. Almost all voices performed by Italian voice actor Carlo Bonomi without a script, using this language of noise.

Story Line:

The story revolves around the main character Pungu. He has a younger sister named Pinga who is often a target for Pingu’s practical jokes. Pingu’s mother and father can be seen strict most of the times. Their actual names were not revealed. Pingu’s father is a postman and he has a motorized sledge (snowmobile) to deliver the mail. Sometimes, he carries Pingu along with him. Mother is a homemaker who spends most of her day in cleaning and cooking. She aswell gets help from Pinga and Pingu in her chores. As mentioned earlier, the story covers the day to day life of penguins who live at the South Pole. But these penguins are shown to carry human emotions and reflect how human’s life would be in a simple clay penguin form.


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