Barney & Friends is an American children's television series aimed at children from ages 1 to 8, created by Sheryl Leach and produced by HIT Entertainment. It 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, optimistic attitude. Production of new episodes originally ceased on September 18, 2009, although reruns of the series were still shown on many PBS stations in the following years. Reruns aired for 10 years on Sprout from 2005 until 2015.
A revival of the show had been announced in 2015 to premiere in 2017, but to date, has not occurred.
|Barney & Friends|
|Created by||Sheryl Leach|
|Starring||David Joyner (1991–2001)|
Carey Stinson (1994, 2002–2009)
Josh Martin (1997; Barney suit)
Bob West (1988–1999; Barney voice)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2001–2009; Barney voice)
Jenny Dempsey (1992)
Jeff Ayers (1993–2008)
Lauren Mayeux (2009; Baby Bop suit)
Julie Johnson (Baby Bop voice)
Jeff Brooks (1993–2002)
Kyle Nelson (2002–2009; B.J. suit)
Patty Wirtz (B.J. voice)
Adam Brown (Riff suit)
Michaela Dietz (Riff voice)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||13|
|No. of episodes||248 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Lyrick Studios (formerly The Lyons Group) (1992–2001)|
HIT Entertainment (2001–2009)
Connecticut Public Television (1992–2005)
WNET New York (2006–2009)
|Original network||PBS (PBS Kids)|
|Picture format||NTSC (480i) (1992–2008)|
HDTV (1080i) (2009)
|Original release||April 6, 1992 – September 18, 2009|
|Preceded by||Barney and the Backyard Gang|
Barney was created in 1987 by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas. She came up with the idea for the program while considering TV shows that she felt would be educational and also appeal to her son. Leach then brought together a team who created a series of home videos, Barney and the Backyard Gang, which also starred actress Sandy Duncan in the first three videos.
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 potentially be developed for PBS. Rifkin thought Barney had appeal because he wasn't nearly 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 potential 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 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 cancelled. 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 HIT Entertainment and Universal Studios, while the TV series was produced by WNET from 2006 to 2009.
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 to the children while they're imagining.
Here, the main plot of the episode takes place. Barney and the children learn about the main topic of the episode, with Baby Bop, B.J., or Riff appearing during the episode and numerous songs themed relating to the subject featured in the series. The roles of Baby Bop, B.J., and Riff have grown larger in later seasons and later episodes venture outside of the school to other places within the neighborhood and to other countries around the world in Season 13.
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, himself, 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.
The adults 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 and the Backyard Gang videos.|
|Mr. Boyd||Robert Sweatman||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:
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:
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. 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 are adapted with a unique set and exclusive child actors. The other co-production was one shot in South Korea from 2001–2003, airing 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). It was done in a similar manner as the Israel production.
A majority of the albums of Barney & Friends feature Bob West as the voice of Barney; however, the recent album The Land of Make-Believe has Dean Wendt's voice. Barney's song "I Love You" was one of those used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay detention camp to coerce the detainees.
Although several people, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, calling the program a "model of what preschool television should be", the program has been criticized for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive in nature.
The show and its content is often cited as a contributing factor to the perceived sense of "entitlement" seen in the Generation Y who grew up watching the show as children. One specific criticism is:
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, said this:
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.