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Barney & Friends
Barneylogo.png
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
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 13
No. of episodes 248 (list of episodes)
Production
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)
Release
Original network PBS (PBS Kids)
Picture format NTSC (480i) (1992–2008)
HDTV (1080i) (2009)
Original release April 6, 1992 (1992-04-06) – September 18, 2009 (2009-09-18)
Chronology
Preceded by Barney and the Backyard Gang

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 2016 for air the next year, but new episodes were not broadcast.

Origin and development

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.

Episode format

Opening sequence

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.

Main sequence

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.

Closing sequence

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.

Characters and cast

Dinosaurs

  • Barney: 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. He also loves marching bands and parades. He also has a slight northeastern accent.
  • Baby Bop: 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 July 29, 1991. She made her debut in the video "Barney in Concert". 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 B.J..
  • B.J.: A seven-year-old yellow Protoceratops, B.J. has been on the show since September 27, 1993. He is the older brother of Baby Bop, whom he frequently calls "Sissy", but calls her by her name on rare occasions. He sings the song "B.J.'s Song" about himself. He wears a red baseball cap and red sneakers. He lost his hat in the episode "Hats Off to B.J.!", and sometimes says things to hide his fears (for example, in the episode "Barney's Halloween Party", he was shocked by the paper spiders and after learning they were fake, he said "I knew that, sort of"). Pickles are his favorite food and he has tried them in various ways, such as on pizza.
  • Riff: An orange six-year-old hadrosaur, who is Baby Bop and B.J.'s cousin. Riff has been on the show since September 6, 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 own voice). He is shown to have an interest in marching bands and parades.

Adults

The adults on the show often appear as teachers, storytellers, or other characters.

Multiple appearances

Role Actor/Actress Description and Appearances
Mother Goose Sandy Walper, Michelle McCarel,
Julie Johnson
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 Tomie dePaola 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".

Puppets

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)

Children

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:

  • Danielle Vega: played Kim from Season 3 to Season 6
  • Demi Lovato: played Angela from Season 7 to Season 8
  • Selena Gomez: played Gianna from Season 7 to Season 8
  • Debby Ryan: played Debby in Season 10
  • Madison Pettis: played Bridget in Season 10
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