Cover Image: Over the Hills and Far Away

Over the Hills and Far Away

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Member Reviews

Over the hills and Far Away has a sunshine yellow energy permeating through it. It's warm, funny and simply a joy to read. 

I picked this up because I was prime Teletubby watching age, and remember them with a lot of affection. It never occurred to me as a kid that underneath their fuzzy exteriors there was a fully grown adult frolicking about Warwickshire countryside. So it was wonderful to step back into tubbyland with adult eyes and discover more about the people behind the show, antics on set, the groundbreaking techniques used and the vast cultural impact the Teletubbies had. 

There is such joy in the way Nikki Smedley (AKA LaLa) writes that it makes the reader a little happier. I was genuinely thrilled to learn that, despite working long shifts in the tubby suit itself sounding like borderline torture, (albeit hilarious torture) it really was a labour of love for the team behind the Teletubbies. I came away with a newfound appreciation for the show and a fuzzy warm feeling - one I imagine would be akin to a hug from a tubby.

Thank you to Netgalley and Sandstone Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Absolutely incredible! Nikky has done a fabulous job making this book logical, insightful and hilarious. 

The book itself flowed well, chapters in a logical order and follows her life well. It was great to hear about her life post-tubby too. As a child of the mid-90’s I was an avid Teletubby watcher and found myself searching YouTube to confirm the anecdotes she mentioned. It was beautifully nostalgic. I chuckled to myself at many times and felt so joyous each time I picked it back up. An awesome book and no doubt I’ll reread it again in future.
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If you have ever wanted to sit down and have a conversation with a grown up teletubby then this is the book for you. After rising to fame playing LaLa on the hit kids tv show teletubbies Nikky’s honest account of life before during and after teletubbies is a great read and not to be missed.
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Like thousands of other people, I loved the Teletubbies both for myself to watch as well as for my children. I adored the seemingly simplicity of the show. This was a fascinating read from Laa Laa herself, explaining how she was chosen to play the character, details about the costumes and logistics of making the programme. It was all far more complicated than I had imagined. A great  "behind the scenes" book.
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I recall lots of elements from the Teletubbies because one of my children watched Teletubbies. We even had each of them as a plush toy. They were an interesting concept, from a parent’s perspective, but I definitely understood that they were not marketed towards me, but to very young children.   Nikki Smedley takes you on a deep journey into the life of a Teletubbie: Laa Laa, to be precise. We hear about the sheer exhaustion of putting on that yellow costume for several years, and also hear about the reward knowing so many children were so excited by the show and the characters. Even though there was no direct or immediate recognition, Nikki knew that somewhere around the world there was a child watching the show, and watching her as Laa Laa, and enjoying it immensely. 
 
Equally it was interesting to hear about Nikki’s work later on with BooBah and In The Night Garden, and the work undertake to train future performers for children’s shows. It was so interesting to hear about the woman behind the famous yellow Teletubby. I found it so interesting reading about how the world of Teletubbies and the huge amount of time, effort, thought, and sweat that made it happen! There was so much dedication from everyone involved to make this children’s favourite come to screen. It was so interesting to hear more about the brains behind it. 
 
Some of the detail provided was really interesting, such as the high security protecting the site and the actors, and the breed of rabbits they chose to match the dimensions of the Teletubbies. Some of it seemed to be a lot of fill about Nikky’s personal life. It did provide a good illustration of the life of someone who is in front of the camera, and hidden away under costume, and the impact of recognition for work in this field. I enjoyed reading this; it was a good stroll down memory lane, and reminded me of all the TV shows of that style that were produced that my kids were fascinated with.
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There is a scene in a Teletubbies episode where a figure stands in a cardboard house, peeking out from behind a curtain. It makes gurgling noises, running back and forth inside the house, giving the viewer a brief glimpse of the figure inside. 
It has terrified me for over 20 years.
Over The Hills And Far Away is the autobiography of LaLa actress Nikki Smedley, exploring how Teletubbies came to be, and the joys of filming as a giant puppet. It was an absolutely brilliant read, and Nikki comes across as so much fun. I would love to go for a drink with her, as she seems so lovely and so full of life.
She goes into a lot of depth about how Teletubbies “work”, and how the repetition is used to create a link to the toddler watching, and how children make predictions based on things that they have seen. I found this really fascinating, especially as someone who was the target audience for Teletubbies when it came out. Am I a more developed individual because I watched LaLa and Dipsy play around with Tubby Custard?
Nikki is so kind about her fellow actors, even certain people who “sold out” the Tubbies. When she talks about her relationship with Simon Shelton, and her reaction to his death, I got genuinely emotional. I never met the man, but I was so upset that such a fun and kind man had passed away.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who remembers the Teletubbies, and was also emotionally scarred by The Magic House. It may not solve the everlasting fear of people creeping behind windows, but it is such a great book to read.
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Let’s be honest, we’ve all seen at least one episode of Teletubbies in our lives right? I was a bit old for it by the time it came out but my little brother loved it! And now, my daughter loves saying Eh-Oh to the tubbies too!

Who would’ve thought that reading about Laa Laa would stir so much emotion?! I loved how much this giant yellow suit completely changed Nikky’s life around. 

It was so interesting to hear about the woman behind the famous yellow Teletubby. I found it so interesting reading about how the world of Teletubbies and the huge amount of time, effort, thought, and sweat that made it happen! There was so much dedication from everyone involved to make this children’s favourite come to screen. It was so interesting to hear more about the brains behind it. 

I loved Nikky’s story and she had a lovely way of telling it. It was a well written, heartwarming memoir that tells of such an important part of Nikky’s life, and shows just how much she loves Laa Laa even now. Lovely read!
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A marvellous memoir from Laa-Laa the Teletubby, aka Nikki Smedley, who is a dancer, choreographer, producer and teacher. One of the more unusual memoirs I’ve read, it’s a funny, insightful book which I very much enjoyed.

I was a little too old for the Teletubbies programme when it was first broadcast in 1997 but I remember seeing it at my childminder’s house. I’ve been exposed to it since then as my kids like watching it. In fact, while I was finishing this book, they made their Teletubby toys fight each other (Po was a policeman and Tinky Winky was the bad guy). What’s interesting about the TV programme is how popular and long-lived it is – this year is the 25th anniversary – which proves that Anne Wood and Andrew Davenport (the creators) were on to a winner, although as Nikki Smedley recounts, what they were doing was quite new and no one could predict how successful it would be.

The memoir focuses on what it was like to be in the Laa-Laa suit, channel the character and work with everyone involved in the programme. It’s packed full of production secrets and amusing anecdotes. I was super impressed with how considered every detail was and that, far from the dumbing down of children’s TV that the media had latched on to, Teletubbies was designed to support children’s early development in several ways. After finishing work on the show, Nikki was involved with the next Ragdoll productions Boobah (no, I haven’t heard of it either) and the phenomenally successful In the Night Garden, before doing various Teletubbies events and being a consultant on the rebooted Darrall Macqueen series.

In summary, a recommended read, unless you’ve never heard of the Teletubbies (unlikely) or you have a phobia of them (apparently some people do).

[Review will appear on my blog, 31st July]
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It was such a treat to get an advanced review copy of this, my inner child thanks you very much. I absolutely loved it. I like most children adored the Teletubbies, even though by the time I watched it at age 7, when it first started in 1997, I was probably too old, but I was absolutely hooked. It was very interesting as an adult to learn all the behind-the-scenes stuff. PS, I still love the Teletubbies, the old series of course.
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Once upon a time well over 25 years ago, Nikki Smedley was given the opportunity of a lifeline. Having been unemployed or certainly underemployed as a dancer up until that point, Smedley won the role of  La La in an ingenious new children's series called Teletubbies. She could have little dreamed quite what a phenomena the show would turn out to be or for that matter just how gruelling the production process would prove.
Nikki Smedley turns out to be both a good-natured and funny writer and tells the story of her life as a  Teletubby (the yellow one)  very well. The process of filming - in large suits specifically designed to create the illusion that they were in reality both small and toddler-like sounds hellish: Smedley was initially tormented by recurring  fears tat she might die at any moment. But she remains justifiably proud of her role in a major (if undeniably weird) part of our cultural history.
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Famous, and yet not famous? 

Absorbing, honest and entertaining account of the years spent inside that yellow fluffy suit
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This book was just the tonic that I didn't know I needed. 
I was too old for Teletubbies but my young brother watched it, so I saw and knew about it at the time
I cannot believe its now on its 25th anniversary.
This book is the perfect backstage pass to life in the teletubbies. From the set, to the huge costumes, to the newspapers hounding them for information. It was a fascinating read to catch a glimpse of this world. I can't say until this read that I thought much/at all about the people behind the characters. Now I've read the book I can see that Nikky absolutely is LaaLaa and I adore her passion to this character. 

This has some heartfelt moments too and has a great blend of some early comedy, sheer hard work, and life after the show.

For anyone interested in TV, or the teletubbies, or just fancies reading something like you've never read before, look no further. This is an absolute unique gem.
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Nikky Smedley is the soul of a character that most people can name and recognise, even if they don't know who the human is. She was the voice and body of Laa-Laa from the children's television program Teletubbies. 

With insight and warmth, she details the experience of creating the show, from seeing the initial advertisement seeking energetic performers to the end of filming six years later, and the subsequent events leading to the present day. Her humour and affection for the time are paired well with the honest descriptions of the difficulties of being eight feet tall and running around a field covered in fur. 

As someone who was a child watching the show, I never did, and only from reading this book do I now, understand the extent and engagement of the Teletubbies. Aired in 120 countries in 45 languages, filmed in a hidden field and rich with education theory (which Smedley shares and explains), this program was a massive undertaking and a gamble that paid off. It's heartening to read Smedley's obvious fondness and sheer joy from her time as Laa-Laa, then to follow this with how she's incorporated this into her career. 

I am glad about the timing of this book. As with the initial reluctance for anyone to see the Tubbies outside of Teletubbyland because it jars with the perception, for the children that watched it and their adults, having a distance from that time helps. It made for a thoroughly entertaining experience to delve back into this world, with each of Smedley's memories bringing back ones in the reader. It has been a long time since I've thought about Tubby Toast. 

Smedley discusses the controversy that the program garnered, especially in the early days, regarding the appropriateness for young children, with many voicing concerns as to the impact on their development. As one such child, I can confidently assure you that it did nothing but good. 

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As a brief comment on this as it is an uncorrected proof, throughout, the word 'learned' needs to be replaced with the English spelling- this being 'learnt'. Please note that this did not impact my rating.
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