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25 Years Ago, 'Barney' The Dinosaur First Appeared On TV Screens

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25 Years Ago, 'Barney' The Dinosaur First Appeared On TV Screens

Television

25 Years Ago, 'Barney' The Dinosaur First Appeared On TV Screens

25 Years Ago, 'Barney' The Dinosaur First Appeared On TV Screens

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/522903419/522903420" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NPR marks the 25th anniversary of a bouncing, purple T-Rex with oddly regular teeth, and a theme song that delighted toddlers, but to this day puts thousands of parents on edge.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Parents, consider this your trigger warning.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARNEY THEME SONG")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN #1: (Singing) Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination, and when he's tall, he's what we call a dinosaur sensation.

SIEGEL: Kids love him. Parents love to hate him. Twenty-five years ago today, Barney the Dinosaur made his public television debut.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The googly-eyed purple and green T-Rex has been delighting toddlers and terrorizing parents ever since.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BARNEY AND FRIENDS")

BOB WEST: (As Barney, laughter) Oh, hi.

SIEGEL: They can thank or curse one woman - Sheryl Leach. Back in 1987, Leach had a very young son, and she says "Sesame Street" was fine, but...

SHERYL LEACH: "Sesame Street" was designed to appeal to children and adults, and it was very hip and very cool.

SIEGEL: Leach wanted something that was just for toddlers. And one day while stuck in traffic on a Texas freeway, that infamous purple dinosaur came to her.

LEACH: You know, it was sweet, and it was loving, and it was totally made for kids, definitely not hip and cool.

MCEVERS: Maybe not, but Barney was an instant hit with the kids.

SIEGEL: As for the adults, we asked our listeners for some Barney memories, and, well, let's just say there wasn't a lot of love.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I LOVE YOU")

WEST: (As Barney, singing) I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Barney pretty much is my worst nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: I hate Barney, and I did from day one.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: My niece just loved him, but it was torture.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: I was so very grateful not to have young kids during this period.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Barney was the worst thing on TV until the "Teletubbies."

SIEGEL: Those are responses from listeners Greg Abrechtsen, Alice Sievers Rodriquez, Linda Parsel, Renee Robertson and Perry John Marshall all read by NPR staff.

MCEVERS: Not everyone is a hater, though. Listener Julia Cooper had a special needs daughter who would not watch anything until Barney.

JULIA COOPER: And all of a sudden, I thought I might be able to do something again (laughter). I literally cannot imagine how much harder my life would be without that big purple dinosaur.

MCEVERS: The next time you want to hate on Barney, remember; he was made for your kid, not for you.

SIEGEL: However, we have no defense for the "Teletubbies."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE MARCHING SONG")

WEST: (As Barney, singing) Oh, when our band...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN #2: (Singing) Oh, when our band...

WEST: (As Barney, singing) Begins to play...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN #2: (Singing) Begins to play...

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