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Noddy by Nature: A TV Tot's Unsavory Past

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Poor little Noddy. The under-8 set's newest animated idol -- just bumped up to a daily PBS slot after a wildly successful year in weekly rotation -- simply can't stay out of trouble. One day, Officer Plod thinks the apple-cheeked scamp has stolen Miss Fluffy Cat's cakes. On another, Noddy's car breaks down just in time to lose his Toyland taxi service's two fares. But these mishaps are nothing compared with the dark secret lurking in Noddy's past: Beginning in the forties and until her death in 1968, Enid Blyton -- creator of the original British book series -- populated Toyland with "golliwogs." Whitewashed out of contemporary print editions (and, naturally, from the television version, brought to the States by the same company that introduced U.S. toddlers to the Teletubbies), these Sambo-like creatures tormented our pointy-hatted hero with malicious pranks and generally unenlightened behavior. But Blyton isn't entirely to blame for the little racist caricatures. The author did make frequent, unapologetic use of the golliwogs, but it turns out that she didn't actually invent them: They were lifted from the work of turn-of-the-century children's illustrator Florence Upton.


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