Animation killed Bananas in Pyjamas, according to one of Australia’s leading cultural academics.
“I don't think the show has the same warm character that it did when human actors played the parts,” Curtin University Professor of Cultural Studies Jon Stratton said of the original children’s television series that spanned 400 episodes and was replaced by a CGI version in 2010.
While creators of the original live-action series Claire Henderson and Simon Hopkinson claimed it was supposed to be more of a kid-friendly version of Seinfeld than educational program, a generation of young Australians still learned something from the identical twins in the stripy pyjamas who were bursting with not only potassium but enthusiasm, kindness and initiative.
Catch phrases, an appreciation for sleepwear and friendship are just some of the messages Gen Y viewers took away from the original live-action Bananas in Pyjamas series. Photo: YouTube
“The show became an institution for at least one generation,” Professor Stratton said.
“Even adults with no children cannot have escaped knowledge of B1 and B2. They have been present right across Australian culture. Their catchphrase ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?’ and the inevitable reply ‘I think I am, B2’ still resonates across the country.
“The show was developed at the height of the policy of multiculturalism. On Cuddles Avenue we have a far more diverse community than we have on Ramsey Street even now.
Bananas in Pyjamas' influence over the years
ABC's 75th anniversary celebrations ... B1 and B2 with ABC personalities Kerry O'Brien, from The 7.30 Report, and radio presenters James Valentine and Myf Warhurst, from Triple J, in 2007. Photo: Peter Morris
“We have teddy bears of different hues, a rat, the bananas and they all live happily together. The show showed children how people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds could get along together and enjoy each other's company.”
Here are some other things the fruity pair and the cast of Bananas in Pyjamas taught us:
Clear communication is key
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking B1?”
“I think I am B2…”
But if you’re not it may be helpful to clarify. Bananas are telepathic, not humans (especially those you are romantically linked with).
Learning the basics of Chasy is an important life skill
The bananas came down the stairs, in pairs and they liked to chase teddy bears, especially on Tuesdays, meanwhile their legion of fans came to realise this form of cheery cardio is a skill one must master to survive and thrive in the real world.
Knowing exactly who and how to run away from some people is just as important in the professional world as it was in primary school.
Or at Friday afternoon drinks.
Or at Christmas with a creepy third cousin.
Two heads are better than one
Whether it’s fixing garden gnomes, painting, planning a surprise party or just shooting the breeze – having a twin, friend or someone else (other than yourself) to chat to is always best.
Pyjamas are the apparel equivalent of Switzerland
Even though they may be the uniform of the sick or the single woman (who may team them with half a bottle of Sem Sauv Blanc, a Kit Kat and a Cardigans CD), sleepwear separates are everywhere and come in many shapes and sizes.
Everyone loves and embraces PJs so it was hardly a coincidence the popularity of the five-minute series for pre-schoolers and the success of pyjama king Peter Alexander skyrocketed around the same time in the mid-90s.
Only certain people can get away with catch phrases
Shop keeper Rat was renowned for frequently saying “cheese and whiskers” (it was the G-rated version of “bloody hell”).
Nearly every mother, father and grandparent weary of impressionable young vocabularies in the Noughties adopted the saying.
Soon after all of middle Australia was familiar with the sayings made famous by three teddy bears, a giant rodent and two pieces of fruit, the messiah of light entertainment himself, John “Babyface” Burgess, picked up on the trend and hosted a popular game show based on catch phrases.
Alas, Burgo’s Catch Phrase wasn’t as popular and was canned in 2003.