Pingu is a stop-motion children's series co-created by Otmar Gutmann and Erika Brueggemann.[1] It was originally produced from 1990 to 2000 for Swiss television by Trickfilmstudio (later renamed Pingu BV and The Pygos Group) for the SF DRS channel in Switzerland. It was later revived from 2003 to 2006 for British television channel CBeebies by HIT Entertainment and Hot Animation. The series focuses on a family of anthropomorphic emperor penguins who live in the South Pole; the main character is the family's son and title character, Pingu.

Pingu Logo.png
Logo used since 2003
GenreClay animation
Stop motion
Created byOtmar Gutmann and Erika Brueggemann[1]
Written bySilvio Mazzola
Voices of
Narrated byMarc Silk
ComposersAntonio Conde (1990–1994)
Andy Benedict (1995–2000)
Amin Bhatia (1995–2000)
Keith Hopwood (2003–2006, 2003–present)
Country of origin
  • Switzerland (1990–2000)
  • United Kingdom (2003–2006)
No. of series6
No. of episodes156 (including 1 special) (list of episodes)
Running time
  • 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes (special)
Production companies
  • The Pygos Group (1990–2000)
  • HIT Entertainment (2003–2006)
Original networkSF DRS (Switzerland)
CBeebies (United Kingdom)
Picture format
Audio formatDolby Stereo (1990)

Dolby Surround (1991–2000)

Dolby Digital (2003–2006)
Original release28 May 1986 (1986-05-28) (pilot)
7 March 1990 (1990-03-07) –
3 March 2006 (2006-03-03)
Followed by

The series originally ran for four series from 7 March 1990 to 9 April 2000 on SF DRS. It was then renewed for two more series from 1 August 2003 to 3 March 2006 on CBeebies. Pingu was also nominated for a BAFTA award. The pilot episode was made on 28 May 1986.

Pingu was very popular, due to its lack of a real spoken language: nearly all dialogue is in an invented grammelot "penguin language" referred to as 'Penguinese',[2] consisting 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!" by the defunct Pingu website's trivia page,[3] accompanied by turning his beak into a megaphone-like shape.[4] In the first four series, all the characters were performed by Italian voice actor Carlo Bonomi, using a language of noises that he had already developed and used for the earlier Osvaldo Cavandoli's La Linea. In series 5 and 6, the Pingu cast was jointly voiced by David Sant and Marcello Magni.[4]

A Japanese revival of the series, called Pingu in the City, began airing on NHK on 7 October 2017, and ran until 30 March 2019. Later, Pingu in the City aired in the United Kingdom on ITVBe's kids’ block (known as LittleBe).


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1267 March 1990 (1990-03-07)27 October 1990 (1990-10-27)
2263 November 1991 (1991-11-03)20 December 1994 (1994-12-20)
32617 June 1995 (1995-06-17)5 September 1996 (1996-09-05)
4265 January 1998 (1998-01-05)9 April 2000 (2000-04-09)
5261 August 2003 (2003-08-01)6 February 2004 (2004-02-06)
6263 January 2005 (2005-01-03)3 March 2006 (2006-03-03)

The programme is set in Antarctica and focuses around penguin families living and working in igloos. The main character, Pingu, belongs to one such family. He frequently goes on adventures with his little sister, Pinga and often gets into mischief with his best friend Robby and his love interest Pingi.



  • Pingu is the main character of the show, a typically playful, curious little penguin. His name comes from the German word for penguin, Pinguin. He is stubborn and mostly well-behaved but prone to making mischief and throwing occasional tantrums.
  • Pinga is Pingu's little sister. She resembles an emperor penguin chick, as do other baby/toddler penguins throughout the show. Like all toddlers, she is happy and playful but very sensitive and clever and is often a target for Pingu's pranks.
  • Mother and Father are Pingu and Pinga's parents; their actual names are not revealed. Father is a postman who uses a non-smoking pipe in the early episodes, but quits later. He is a short-tempered but loving penguin and has a motorised sledge (snowmobile) to deliver the mail, sometimes with help from Pingu. Mother is a caring, loving and hard-working housewife who spends most of her time cooking and cleaning. Mother sometimes gets help from Pingu and Pinga and she always gives them a cuddle when they have learned a lesson.
  • Grandfather is Pingu and Pinga's paternal grandfather, who first appeared in the episode "Music Lessons". He is an expert accordionist, as he demonstrates to Pingu in that episode, and is also a former professional weight lifter.
  • Grandpa is Pingu and Pinga's maternal grandfather who appeared in "Grandpa is ill" and "Pingu Cannot Lose", in the latter of which he is shown to be good at bowling.
  • Aunts are Mother's sisters and Pingu and Pinga's three maternal aunts. In "Pingu Goes Away", Pingu goes to stay with one of his aunts. In "Pingu the Babysitter", he cares for another aunt's twin chicks whilst she and Mother go out, then in "Pingu Makes a Mistake", he cares for the third aunt's egg, which is due to hatch.
  • The Twins are Pingu and Pinga's cousins who appear in "Pingu the Babysitter" where they are cared for by Pingu when their mother (Pingu's aunt) goes out with his Mother.


  • Robby is a seal who is Pingu's best friend. His name resembles the German word for seal, Robbe. First appearing in the episode "Pingu Goes Fishing", he is friendly and playful, yet cheeky in a lot of ways. He is blueish-grey in the first four seasons, but coloured light grey in the last two.
  • Pingo is a somewhat foolhardy penguin. He has a long beak that is essentially flat at the bottom but slightly rounded on the top and a head that is wider and taller. He often persuades Pingu to do wild and silly things with him. He was originally a bully in the first episode but later on he along with Pingg became Pingu's friends.
  • Pingg is Pingu's other penguin friend. He also has a long beak, but a shorter head than Pingo. Like Pingo he was originally a bully but later on in the series became one of Pingu's friends.
  • Pongi is a penguin who wears glasses and has a short round beak. He first appeared in the episode "Ice Hockey".
  • Pengy is a penguin very similar to Adélie penguins and first appears in "Pingu and the School Excursion". In the episode "School Time", Pingu resembles Pengy.
  • Pingj is a green penguin who appears in Pingu at the Wedding Party; he speaks with an accent that seems to be typical of his breed.
  • Punki is a penguin who first appeared in the episode "Pingu Delivers The Mail". He has a tuft on his head and wears striped trousers.
  • Bajoo is Pingu's other non-penguin friend. HIT Entertainment reveals him as a "strange newcomer" to the Antarctic in the appearance of an abominable snowman. He was introduced in 2005 and appeared in the last episode, "Pingu & the Abominable Snowman". He also appeared in the 7–11 music video and "The Pingu Show".
  • Pingi is Pingu's love interest and Pinga's best friend. She has thick, white eyelashes and a somewhat mushed beak. She first appeared in the episode "Pingu's Admirer".


  • The Schoolmaster (Mr. Peng-Chips) is Pingu's teacher. He lives in a nearby school and rings the bell when it is time for school to begin or end. He first appeared in the episode "School Time".
  • The Doctor is the neighbourhood's doctor. He lives in a nearby igloo clinic and frequently treats Pingu's injuries, as well as aid in the birth of Pinga.
  • Mr. Peng-Hoven is a poor penguin. He lives in a tattered igloo and gladly accepts Pingu's gifts. He first appeared in "Pingu and the Barrel Organ".

Production historyEdit

In 1984, Erika Brueggemann was working at Schweizer Fernsehen when she was introduced to animator Otmar Gutmann. Gutmann pitched a clay animation show starring sea lions who crawled around in a funny way. Erika Brueggemann liked the idea of a clay cartoon character, but she preferred the clay penguins that Gutmann had made. She suggested that the main character should walk upright like a human and asked, "Why not a penguin?"[5]

Brueggemann's colleague, Guido Steiger, agreed with her idea. Otmar Gutmann was not immediately convinced, since he had already created many sea lion characters out of plasticine, but he eventually pushed forward with the penguin idea too. According to Erika Brueggemann, she gave "countless demonstrations on my part about how 'my' penguin had to move and act."[5] From this framework, Brueggemann, Gutmann, and their team created a 7-minute pilot called "Pingu: Eine Geschichte Für Kinder Im Vorschulalter," which was finished in 1986.

The pilot was eventually screened at the 1987 Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Kleiner Baer award.[6] The positive reception to this pilot persuaded the director of Schweizer Fernsehen, Ulrich Kündig, to commission an entire series of the Pingu cartoons.

The first production cycle from 1990–2000 created 104 five-minute episodes and one special 25-minute episode. The original stories were written by Erika Brueggemann and Guido Steiger,[5] and some of the later stories were written by Silvio Mazzola. These episodes were animated at Trickfilmstudio in Russikon, Switzerland.[7] In the style of voices, a retroscript was chosen, and all voices were performed by Italian voice actor Carlo Bonomi without a script, using a language of noises that he had already developed and used for Osvaldo Cavandoli's La Linea.[8][9][10][11] This feature enables people of diverse linguistic backgrounds to be able to follow the story.[10][11]

In 1993, David Hasselhoff released a single titled "Pingu Dance",[12] a rap song (in Switzerland only) based on the Pingu shorts and featuring samples of Penguinese. A portion of this song is used as the theme to Pingu in international airings, and was also heard in the re-dubbed version of the "Pingu Looks After the Egg (retitled Pingu Helps with Incubating)" episode, replacing the "Woodpeckers from Space" song from the original version.

A special twenty-five-minute episode, Pingu at the Wedding Party, was also produced in 1997, and introduced a family of green penguins.[13]

HIT Entertainment buyoutEdit

In October 2001, HIT Entertainment bought the rights to the series, including the original 104 episodes and the wedding special, for £15.9 million.[14] HIT later revived the show, and produced a further 52 episodes[15] in 2003 through 2006. These episodes were animated through stop-motion like the original, but used resin casts of the original clay puppets (which had deteriorated by this time).

The HIT Entertainment episodes were made by a completely new team at Hot Animation, but co-creator Erika Brueggemann still traveled to the company's headquarters in the United Kingdom to check on production. At the time, she said, "Last year a production company from England bought everything... I traveled to Manchester last summer and met their highly motivated team who worked with great commitment, humor and responsibility towards children. I think Pingu is in good hands now."[5]

Contrary to some sources, there was never any CGI used in these later episodes. When HIT Entertainment bought the rights, Carlo Bonomi was replaced with new voice actors Marcello Magni and David Sant.[16][4] Magni and Sant, Italian and Spanish actors based in London, both have a mime and clowning background and were already aware of the clown language of "Grammelot" on which the penguin language was based.[4]

Japanese popularity and Pingu in the CityEdit

Pingu became well known in Japan. According to writer Silvio Mazzola in 1996, Pingu was most popular with high-school girls, with over 90% of Japanese girls aged 13–17 knowing about the series.[17] In 2020, an exhibition event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the original "Hugo" animation was held in Tokyo.[18]

A Japanese-produced reboot of the series, titled Pingu in the City (Japanese: ピングー in ザ・シティ, Hepburn: Pingū in za Shiti), was announced in 2017. It premiered on NHK-E on October 7, 2017. Unlike its previous series, it is computer-animated, and features Pingu and his family moving to a big city. Each episode involves Pingu attempting to help out anyone there with their jobs, although he usually messes it up. The series was produced by Polygon Pictures in the same style of the original stop-motion series through computer animation.[19] It was directed by Naomi Iwata and written by both Kimiko Ueno and Shigenori Tanabe, with music done by Ken Arai.[20] It features voices by Ryota Iwasaki and Fumiya Tanaka, in a similar style to David Sant and Marcello Magni.

Broadcast historyEdit

In the United Kingdom, CBeebies airs only the original version of Pingu with the original cartoon title card (series 1 and 2) from the 52 episodes, and shows the first 13 episodes of series 3 with the claymation-inspired intro. JimJam contains all of the show's 156 episodes and Pingu at the Wedding Party, but it contains the re-dubbed versions of series 1–2 and contains the original version of Pingu at the Wedding Party, without the titles and credits.

Pingu had aired on Nickelodeon in the UK for a period of time in the late 1990s.[21]

According to a 2008 Slate article asking "When will America embrace Pingu?", the series has "been an international sensation for more than two decades while remaining as obscure to American audiences as a Eurovision pop star."[22] The show has only rarely been broadcast in the United States. At first, Pingu was only shown in the country as a short segment in the variety program on Nick Jr. from 1998 to 2015 (which they used the original version as a US Dub.), and Small World, a showcase of internationally produced shorts that aired during Cartoon Network's Sunday morning lineup from 1996 to 2002. In 2005, the series returned to the country on the new Sprout channel, finally airing as a separate show in the US. It aired on Sprout until it was removed sometime in 2010, and it has not been broadcast since.

A documentary documenting the production and fans of the series, called Pingu - A Cartoon Character who conquers the world,[23] was produced in the early 1990s and follows a detective who tries to figure out why Pingu became popular.

In 2006, Pingu was featured in a music video for Eskimo Disco's first single, "7–11". The music video was also released via CD, on 18 December 2006.[24]

In India, Pingu was aired by Doordarshan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since 2000, it has been aired by Cartoon Network, Hungama TV and Animax.

In Kenya, Pingu was screened on KBC.

In South Africa, the original series of Pingu began airing on SABC2 and the 2003 series later went onto air on as part of their children's strand Craz-e!.

In Nigeria, Pingu was being shown on NTA.

In Australia, episodes of Pingu originally aired as a segment on the children's programme, The Book Place on the Seven Network from 1991 to 1996 and later aired on ABC Television as a stand-alone programme in 1998.

In Germany, episodes of Pingu were aired from 10 November 1990 on ZDF, and later on KI.KA.[citation needed]

Pingu was broadcast in the U.A.E. on their English-speaking television network Dubai 33.

Pingu was shown on television for the very first time in Singapore and first aired on Kids Central from 2003 to 2006 and then on Okto from 2012 to 2014.

Pingu aired in New Zealand on TV3 from 1996 to 2006, and on Four beginning in 2011.

Pingu was also aired in Malaysia on TV3, as a part of the morning television program.

In Canada, Pingu airs on TVOKids, CBC Kids, Knowledge Network, Toon-A-Vision and YTV. Pingu has been a mainstay of the children's programming blocks on TVOntario since the mid-1990s. It can still be seen on TV in that country since APTN airs "The Pingu Show" as part of its morning children's programming block "APTN Kids", and the show is available in English and French language versions. Some of the controversial episodes, such as "Pingu Quarrels With His Mother" (also known as "Pingu Argues With His Mother") and "Little Accidents" (also known as "Pingu's Lavatory Story"), have aired uncut on APTN Kids. In British Columbia, Pingu is aired during commercial breaks on Knowledge Network.

In the United Kingdom, Pingu was featured in the Children In Need 2009 video by Peter Kay, which contained many other popular characters. This was shown on live television across the United Kingdom, and then sold on both CD and DVD, this was Pingu's final appearance for 35 years until Pingu in the City this is also Pingu's final Clay animation appearance.

A game, released in Japan, made for the Nintendo DS, Pingu no Waku Waku Carnival ("Pingu's Wonderful Carnival") was made by Square Enix and released in November 2008. This game is a series of mini games starring Pingu and his friends, including one in which Pingu's mother and father bake a heart-shaped cake, with the gameplay style resemblant to that of Cooking Mama.[25] Another game for the Nintendo DS is Fun Fun Pingu.

Other video games based on the series are Pingu's 'Barrel of Fun! for the PC in 1997 and Pingu and Friends in 1999, (both of which were released exclusively in the UK by BBC Multimedia) Pingu: Sekai de Ichiban Genki na Penguin for the Game Boy in Japan in 1993, and Fun Fun Pingu for the PlayStation also in Japan in 1999.

In August 2017, reruns of the fifth and sixth seasons of Pingu started airing in the Milkshake! programming block of the British television channel 5Star.[26] Pingu remained part of the Milkshake! Block for just over a year before being pulled from 5Star and its digital service.

In Japan, Pingu currently airs as part of NHK's children's program Nyanchu's World, and also on Cartoon Network Japan. Toys in the likeness of Pingu characters also featured in Japanese KFC restaurants as part of their Kids' Meal.

DVD and VHS releasesEdit


Pingu received mostly positive reviews, Common Sense Media rated the show a 4 out of 5 stars stating "Parents need to know that this claymation series is funny, endearing, and entertaining. Although the series is appropriate for all ages, the plots might be difficult for the youngest viewers to follow".[27]


  1. ^ a b Pingu season 5 end credits. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Originated by: Otmar Gutmann and Erika Brueggemann
  2. ^ Stevens, Dana (1 February 2008). "The March of the Pingu". Retrieved 22 May 2017 – via Slate.
  3. ^ "Pingu Fact #5 (viewable in webpage source code)". Archived from the original on 2 February 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Dickson, Andrew; Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (11 January 2016). "How we made Pingu". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d "Erika Brüggemann, langjährige Redaktorin im Kinder- und Jugendprogramm, über "Pingu"" (PDF) (in German). April 2004.
  6. ^ "Obituary: Otmar Gutmann". 20 October 1993.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Pingu". Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "The man who voiced Pingu is NOT what we expected".
  10. ^ a b Wahlgren, Yens (2 February 2021). The Universal Translator. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-9592-4.
  11. ^ a b Thorne, Tony. "Pingu's Lingo, or How to Get By in Penguinese".
  12. ^ Music- & Soundfiles / Musik- & Sounddateien.
  13. ^ "Pingu Family at the Wedding Party". ABC Television.
  14. ^ "Pingu sold for £16m". Business. BBC News. 29 October 2001. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  15. ^ HIT Entertainment PLC (14 October 2002). "HIT Entertainment PLC Announces Record Year End 2002 Results".
  16. ^ "Pingu gets new voice". Irish Examiner. 17 August 2003.
  17. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Pingu". Archived from the original on 10 August 2020.
  18. ^ "日本初公開の貴重な資料や当時のクレイ人形も展示!ピングーの魅力が詰まった「ピングー展」詳細決定!2020年8月12日(水)~8月24日(月)".
  19. ^ "ピングー:新作テレビアニメは初のオールCg ポリゴン・ピクチュアズ制作".
  20. ^ "Polygon Pictures Makes New Anime for Swiss Character Pingu". Anime News Network. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  21. ^ "What's on Nickelodeon UK". Archived from the original on 4 February 1998.
  22. ^ "When will America embrace Pingu?". February 2008.
  23. ^ Sandro Mazzola (24 February 2017), Pingu - a cartoon character conquers the world, archived from the original on 17 November 2021, retrieved 4 February 2018
  24. ^ "Eskimo Disco". 9 December 2006. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  25. ^ Pure Dreams Pingu.
  26. ^ "My5".
  27. ^ "Pingu – TV Review". 19 May 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2017.

External linksEdit