Barney & Friends
Barney & Friends is an American children's television series targeted at young children aged 2–7, created by Sheryl Leach. The series premiered on PBS on April 6, 1992. The series features the title character Barney, a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, huggable and optimistic attitude. The series ended on November 2, 2010, although new videos were still released on various dates after the last episode aired. Reruns aired on Sprout from 2005 until 2015, and from December 17, 2018, onward on Sprout's successor network, Universal Kids.
|Barney & Friends|
|Genre||Children's television series|
|Created by||Sheryl Leach|
|Based on||Barney and the Backyard Gang by Sheryl Leach|
|Presented by||Bob West (1992–2002)|
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009)
|Starring||David Joyner (1991–2001)|
Carey Stinson (1994, 2002–2009)
Josh Martin (1997; Barney suit)
Bob West (1988–2000; Barney voice)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009; Barney voice)
Jenny Dempsey (1992–1993)
Jeff Ayers (1993–2008)
Lauren Mayeux (2009; Baby Bop suit)
Julie Johnson (Baby Bop voice)
Jeff Brooks (1994–2002)
Kyle Nelson (2002–2009; BJ suit)
Patty Wirtz (BJ voice)
Adam Brown (Riff suit)
Michaela Dietz (Riff voice)
|Voices of||Bob West (1992–2002)|
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009)
|Opening theme||Barney Theme Song|
|Ending theme||I Love You|
A Friend Like You (various episodes, 2006–2010)
|Composers||Phil Parker (1990–1999)|
Bob Singleton (1990–2000)
Joe Phillips (1996–2009)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||14|
|No. of episodes||268 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Sheryl Leach (1988–1998)|
Kathy Parker (1988–1993)
Dennis DeShazer (1988–2002)
Randy Dalton (2002–2005)
Karen Barnes (2006–2009)
|Production locations||Allen, Texas (1992–1993)|
Irving, Texas (1995–2000)
Carrollton, Texas (2002–2009)
|Running time||30 minutes (1992–2005, 2008–2009)|
15 minutes (2006–2007, 2010)
|Production companies||Lyons Partnership L.P.|
Connecticut Public Television (1992–2005)
Lyrick Studios (1994–2001)
HIT Entertainment (2001–2010)
WNET New York (2006–2010)
|Distributor||Lyrick Studios (1994–2001, US)|
Southern Star (Mid-90s–2001, Non-US)
HIT Entertainment (2001–2010)
|Original network||PBS (PBS Kids)|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i) (1992–2008)|
HDTV (1080i) (2009–2010)
|Original release||April 6, 1992 –|
November 2, 2010
|Preceded by||Barney and the Backyard Gang|
In 2015, a revival was announced to premiere in 2017, but was delayed into an undated launch. On October 18, 2019, Mattel Films announced that a second Barney film was to be produced; British actor Daniel Kaluuya's production company was involved.
Origin and development
Barney was created by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas. She came up with the idea of a children's program after noticing that her son outgrew Wee Sing Together, and then recognizing that there were no videos to appeal to her son. Leach then brought together a team who created a series of home videos, Barney and the Backyard Gang, initially released in 1988. The first three videos starred actress Sandy Duncan.
One day in 1991, the daughter of Connecticut Public Television executive Larry Rifkin rented one of the videos and was "mesmerized" by it. Rifkin thought the concept could be developed for PBS. Rifkin thought Barney had appeal because he was not as neurotic as Big Bird. He pitched it to CPTV president Jerry Franklin, whose preschool son also fell in love with it. Franklin and Rifkin pitched the idea to all of their colleagues with preschoolers, and they all agreed that kids would love a Barney show. Franklin and Rifkin convinced Leach to let CPTV revamp the concept for television. The show debuted as Barney & Friends in 1992. The series was produced by CPTV and Lyrick Studios (later bought by HIT Entertainment).
Although the show was a runaway hit, PBS initially opted not to provide funding beyond the initial 30-episode run. When Rifkin and other CPTV executives learned this, they wrote letters to their fellow PBS member stations urging them to get PBS to reconsider. The Lyons Group, meanwhile, sent out notices through the Barney Fan Club, telling parents to write letters and make phone calls to their local PBS stations to show their support for Barney & Friends. By the time of the yearly member stations' meeting, station executives across the country were up in arms over the prospect of one of their most popular shows being canceled. Faced with an atmosphere that Rifkin later described as "like an insurrection", PBS ultimately relented.
For several years, the show was taped at the Color Dynamics Studios facility at Greenville Avenue & Bethany Drive in Allen, Texas, after which it moved to The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and then Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas. The TV series and videos are currently distributed by 9 Story Media Group, HIT Entertainment and Universal Studios, while the TV series was produced by WNET from 2006 to 2010.
The series opens with the theme song (over clips from various episodes) and the title card before it dissolves into the school. The children are seen doing an activity, occasionally relating to the episode's topic. The children imagine something and Barney comes to life from a plush doll, transforming into the "real" Barney, how he appears in the children's imaginations.
Here, the main plot of the episode takes place. Barney and the children learn about the main topic of the episode, with Baby Bop, BJ, or Riff appearing during the episode and numerous songs themed relating to the subject featured in the series. The roles of Baby Bop, BJ, and Riff have grown larger in later seasons and later episodes venture outside of the school to other places within the neighborhood, and in Season 13, to other countries around the world.
Barney concludes with "I Love You" before he dissolves back into his original stuffed form and winks to the audience. After the children discuss what they have learned, the sequence cuts to Barney Says (in Seasons 1–8 and 12 only) where Barney, who is off-screen, narrates what he and his friends had done that day, along with still snapshots from the episode. Then Barney signs off before the credits roll. In Seasons 3–8 and 12, he later appeared on-screen by saying, "And remember, I love you," and waved goodbye before the credits roll.
Characters and cast
This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2015)
- Barney (voiced by Bob West in 1992–2000, and Dean Wendt in 2001–2010; people who wore the Barney suit included David Joyner (1991-2001) and Carey Stinson): The main character is a purple and green Tyrannosaurus in stuffed animal likeness, who comes to life through a child's imagination. His theme song is "Barney is a Dinosaur", whose tune is based on "Yankee Doodle". Barney often quotes things as being "Super dee-duper". Episodes frequently end with the song "I Love You", sung to the tune of "This Old Man", which happens to be one of Barney's favorite songs. Despite being a carnivorous type dinosaur, Barney likes many different foods such as fruits and vegetables, but his main favorite is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk.
- Baby Bop (voiced by Julie Johnson): A green Triceratops, who was originally two years old, but turned three in "Look at Me, I'm 3!". Baby Bop has been on the show since her debut in "Barney in Concert" on July 29, 1991. She wears a pink bow and pink ballet slippers, and carries a yellow security blanket. She sings the song "My Yellow Blankey" to show how much her security blanket means to her. She likes to eat macaroni and cheese and pizza. She is the younger sister of BJ.
- BJ (voiced by Patty Wirtz): A seven-year-old yellow Protoceratops, BJ has been on the show since September 27, 1993. He is the older brother of Baby Bop, whom he frequently calls "Sissy" and occasionally calls by her name. He sings "BJ's Song" about himself. He wears a red baseball cap and red sneakers. He lost his hat in the episode "Hats Off to BJ!". Pickles are his favorite food and he has tried them in various ways, such as on pizza.
- Riff (voiced by Michaela Dietz): An orange six-year-old Hadrosaur, who is Baby Bop and BJ's cousin, Riff has been on the show since September 18, 2006. He wears green sneakers. His theme music is "I Hear Music Everywhere". Riff loves music and it is in almost everything he does. In the episode "Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse", it was revealed that Riff also likes to invent things; he created a four-sound smoke detector (the first three were different alarm sounds and the final one his voice). He is shown to have an interest in marching bands and parades.
Adults and children
The adults and children on the show often appear as teachers, storytellers, or other characters.
|Role||Actor/Actress||Description and Appearances|
|Mother Goose||Sandy Walper, Michelle McCarel,
|The rhyme master herself appears in the episodes "Let's Help Mother Goose", "Honk! Honk! A Goose on the Loose", "A Little Mother Goose", "Barney's Big Surprise", and "Mother Goose/Fairy Tales".|
|Stella the Storyteller||Phyllis Cicero||Stella travels all around the world, collecting new stories to tell Barney and friends, among other people. She appeared in several episodes from Seasons 3 to 6 but reappeared in the video The Best of Barney, where she gave Barney a photo album of his friends over the years she made herself.|
|Professor Tinkerputt||Barry Pearl||He appeared in Barney's Imagination Island and in the Barney's Big Surprise stage show tour. Professor Tinkerputt did not want to share his invented toys, until Barney and the kids showed him that good things happen when you share. For this reason, Tinkerputt left Imagination Island with Barney and the others and started a new toy factory.|
|Tomie dePaola||Himself||The famous children's author is also a good friend of Barney and usually meets his friends in the episodes he appeared in, which are "Picture This", "It's Raining, It's Pouring", and "Oh Brother, She's my Sister".|
|Mom||Sandy Duncan||Michael and Amy's mother in the first three Barney & the Backyard Gang videos.|
|Mr. Boyd||Robert Sweatmon||His full name is Grady Boyd and he has a niece named Colleen and a dog named Bingo. He worked as a musician in "Classical Cleanup", "Barney's Band", "Come Blow Your Horn!", "Play Piano with Me!", a janitor in Seasons 3 to 6 and a park keeper in Seasons 7 and 8. He later reappeared in The Best of Barney.|
|Colleen||Claire Burdett||Colleen is Mr. Boyd's niece, who comes to town for a visit and is introduced to Barney and the Children. She is a congenital amputee born without her right hand, as is her actress. She appeared in two episodes, "A New Friend!" and "A Perfectly Purple Day".|
|David||Robert Hurtekant||David is a boy in a wheelchair who appeared at the beginning of two episodes: "Falling for Autumn!" and "Shawn and the Beanstalk".|
A lot of puppets appeared in many seasons. The most notable puppets were:
- Scooter McNutty, a brown squirrel (seasons: 4–6, 1997–2000)
- Miss Etta Kette, a purple bird (seasons: 4–6, 1997–2000)
- Booker T. Bookworm, an orange worm with interests in books (season 5: 1998–1999)
Throughout the series' run, over 100 children have appeared in the series, with most of them from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Only a small portion of these actors have made notable appearances in media since their roles, including:
Movies and specials
- Barney in Concert (1991)
- Barney's Imagination Island (1994)
- Barney Live in New York City (1994)
- Barney's Great Adventure (1998) (theatrical movie starring Trevor Morgan and Kyla Pratt)
- Barney's Big Surprise (1998)
- Barney: Let's Go to the Zoo (2001)
- Barney's Musical Castle (2001)
- Barney's Colorful World (2004)
- Untitled Barney movie (TBA) (theatrical movie produced by Daniel Kaluuya)
Other than the United States, the series has aired in Canada, Mexico and Latin America, France, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan (On English-based DVDs under the name "Let's Play with Barney in English! (バーニーと英語であそぼう！, Bānī to Eigo de asobō!)" and on television as simply "Barney & Friends (バーニー&フレンズ, Bānī ando Furenzu!)" ), the Philippines, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Australian based company and distributor Southern Star handled non-US rights to the series from the mid-'90s  until 2001 when HIT revoked the deal after acquiring Lyrick.
Two known co-productions of Barney & Friends have been produced outside of the US. The Israeli co-production Hebrew: החברים של ברני Hachaverim shel Barney (The Friends of Barney) produced from 1997 to 1999 in Tel Aviv, Israel, was the first of these. Rather than dubbing the original American episodes from Seasons 1–3, the episodes were adapted with a unique set and exclusive child actors. The second co-production was broadcast in South Korea from 2001 to 2003 on KBS (under the name "바니와 친구들" (Baniwa Chingudeul (Barney and Friends))). This one, however, adapted the first six seasons (including the first three that the Israel co-production did).
Barney's song "I Love You" was among those used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay detention camp to coerce detainees. The similar use of "I Love You" to inflict psychological stress on Iraqi prisoners-of-war was examined by Jon Ronson in his 2004 book The Men Who Stare At Goats.
Awards and nominations
|1993||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series||Sheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazer||Nominated|
|1993||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series||Stephen White, Mark S. Bernthal||Nominated|
|1994||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects||Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe||Nominated|
|1994||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series||Sheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazer||Nominated|
|1996||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series||Sheryl Leach, Dennis DeShazer, Jim Rowley,||Nominated|
|1998||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lighting Direction||Ken Craig, Murray K. Campbell||Nominated|
|1998||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing||Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French||Nominated|
|1999||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing||Jim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve Feldman||Nominated|
|1999||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing||Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French||Nominated|
|2000||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing||Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French||Nominated|
|2001||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing||Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French||Won (tied with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)|
|2003||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action and Animation||Patrick Sellars, Neal Anderson||Nominated|
|2006||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing||Jim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve Feldman||Nominated|
|2008||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling||Lisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle Huchton||Nominated|
|2009||Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling||Lisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle Huchton||Nominated|
Several people have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, who called the program a "model of what preschool television should be". Others have criticized the show for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive.
His shows do not assist children in learning to deal with negative feelings and emotions. As one commentator puts it, the real danger from Barney is "denial: the refusal to recognize the existence of unpleasant realities. For along with his steady diet of giggles and unconditional love, Barney offers our children a one-dimensional world where everyone must be happy and everything must be resolved right away."
The creator and performer of the San Diego Chicken mascot, Ted Giannoulas, called Barney a "ubiquitous and insipid creature" in a 1999 court case.
In a 1993 newspaper article, Jerry Franklin, the head of Connecticut Public Television, which co-produced Barney at the time, was quoted thus:
When adults say they do not like Barney, Franklin says, 'in a way, we take that as a compliment. Barney is not designed for parents, whereas Sesame Street is designed for parents and children. We made a conscious decision to make Barney simple. It is not a program for parents. Barney relates to preschoolers. We think he speaks to them at their level, which is in simple terms and with music.
Howard Blumenthal, producer of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, said “Even the most knowledgeable people … can't really understand why that [Barney] phenomenon happened and another didn't".
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- "Mattel Films, Daniel Kaluuya's 59%, and Valparaiso Pictures announce plans to bring "Barney" to the Big Screen". Mattel.
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- Berglas, Steven (December 10, 2008). "Entrepreneurship (Or Lack Thereof) In Millennials". Forbes. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
- Lyons Partnership v. Ted Giannoulas, 179 F.3d 384, 386 (5th Cir. 1999), citing Chava Willig Levy, "The Bad News About Barney", Parents, Feb. 1994, at 191–92 (136–39).
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- Barney Online at the Wayback Machine (archive index) by Lyons Partnership, L.P.
- Barney & Friends on PBS Kids (U.S.)
- Barney & Friends on Sprout (U.S.)
- Barney the Dinosaur at the Wayback Machine (archive index) at Hit Entertainment
- Barney & Friends at the Wayback Machine (archive index) at Lyrick Studios
- Barney & Friends at IMDb