Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

Bananas in Pyjamas (1992 - 2002)

Children's series
300 episodes x 5 minutes

Series synopsis:

The Bananas in Pyjamas, B1 (Ken Radley) and B2 (Nicholas Opolski), live in Cuddles Lane with their friends the Teddies, Morgan (Jeremy Scrivener), Amy (Mary-Ann Henshaw) and Lulu (Taylor Owynns), and the tricky shopkeeper Rat in a Hat (Shane McNamara). Something interesting happens everyday in Cuddles Lane – and everyday events become more fun when the Bananas and their friends get involved.

Curator’s Notes:

The combination of this tight ensemble of visually appealing characters in the colourful world of Cuddles Lane with the Bananas in Pyjamas song created a highly popular and commercially successful preschool series. Repeated lines, such as the famous catchphrase ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking B1?’, and uncomplicated funny stories add further to the appeal of the show for the young audience and their parents, as well as the international marketability of the series.

The background to the development of this simple, character-driven five-minute show is interesting. It originated as a popular song written in 1967 by British composer Carey Blyton, nephew of renowned children’s writer Enid Blyton, and featured on the UK Play School (1988). The song became such a huge hit with the young viewers that an animation was produced to accompany it. Play School’s toy Banana character became one of the most popular of all the Play School (2008) toys.

In the early 1990s, then head of ABC Children’s Television, Nick Collis-George, decided to act upon the song’s popularity and charged ABC producers Helena Harris and Clare Henderson with the task of creating a five-minute program to lead into Play School (2008). The resulting Bananas in Pyjamas was such a huge success that a further six series were made, as well as four 30-minute specials. Interestingly, it was not made as an animation. The characters were played by adult actors in full-body character suits, in the vein of other costumed live action character-based preschool shows of the time, such as Johnson and Friends (1995) and Here’s Humphrey (2008).

Viewed in over 70 countries, Bananas in Pyjamas is the ABC’s most successful overseas product. From the outset, tapping into a potentially lucrative world of merchandising centred around the show – harnessing children’s ‘pester power’ – was certainly a significant part of the project’s purpose. The Bananas in Pyjamas commercial merchandising has been exceptionally profitable for the ABC and this successful merchandising also helped brand the Bananas in Pyjamas concept worldwide. While the program would not exist without the merchandising, the successful merchandising has also kept the show going for a long time.

Titles in this series

Bananas in Pyjamas – Banana Breakfast 1999

In this story, narrated by Karina Kelly, Bananas in Pyjamas B1 (Ken Radley) and B2 (Nicholas Opolski) decide to make a surprise breakfast for the Teddies, Morgan (Jeremy Scrivener), Amy (Mary-Ann Henshaw) and Lulu (Taylor Owynns). When Rat in a ...