Babar (TV series)


Babar title card
Genre Comedy-Drama
Created by Jean de Brunhoff
Written by
Directed by
  • Raymond Jafelice
  • Laura Shepherd
  • Dale Schott
  • Larry Jacobs
Theme music composer Milan Kymlicka
Composer(s) Milan Kymlicka
Country of origin Canada
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 78 (list of episodes)
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network CBC (seasons 1–3)
Global TV (seasons 4–5)
Picture format NTSC (480i)
Audio format Stereo
Original release March 28, 1989 (1989-03-28)[1] – December 3, 1991 (1991-12-03)[1]
Followed by Babar and the Adventures of Badou (2010–2015)

Babar is a Canadian/French animated television series produced in Quebec, Canada by Nelvana Limited and The Clifford Ross Company. It premiered in 1989 on CBC and HBO, subsequently was rerun on HBO and Qubo.[2] The series is based on Jean de Brunhoff's original Babar books, and was Nelvana's first international co-production. The series' 78 episodes have been broadcast in 30 languages in over 150 countries.

While the French author Laurent de Brunhoff pronounces the name Babar as "BUH-bar", the series in its first five seasons pronounces the name as "BAB-bar".[3]

In 2010, a computer-animated sequel series spin-off of Babar titled Babar and the Adventures of Badou was launched. The new series focuses on a majority of new characters.


Based on the books by Jean de Brunhoff and Laurent de Brunhoff, the plot focuses on the story of Babar as it is told by him to his children. Babar is a young elephant who undergoes many challenges and adventures. However, Babar always finds the strength to rise above difficulty and search out every cloud's silver lining. Babar is crowned king of the elephants, plans and builds Celesteville, and becomes a father himself. And he learns the greatest lesson of all: "despite life's challenges, great things are possible if one never gets discouraged."

As a young boy, Babar witnesses the slaughter of his mother by a hunter and flees from the Great Forest to the city, where he is cared for by a kind Old Lady. Babar learns the workings of the world and returns to elephant land full of ideas for progress in his land. The elephant elders see that Babar has become wise beyond his years and crown him as the New King of Elephant Land.



Kids for Character

The series can be seen as a skit in the Citizenship segment of Kids for Character.


Babar's family

Babar's close friends and royal court

Rataxes' family


In 1989, New Line Cinema, Nelvana, and Astral Films announced that a film adaption of Babar would be released. This would be followed by a sequel released in 1998, titled Babar: King of the Elephants, and was released by Alliance Films theatrically and New Line Cinema as a direct-to-video film.

The TV film Babar Comes to America was released on September 7, 1971 and produced in the U.S. The film starred Peter Ustinov as the voice actor for all of the characters.[5]

Babar and Father Christmas

The 1986 television film Babar and Father Christmas won the 1987 Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Merilyn Read, and Alison Clayton). It was released in the U.S. on December 5, 1986, and in Canada on December 15, 1986. The film's DVD title is also known as Babar et le Père Noël in France. The film was made in Canada. The song "Christmas in Celesteville" was featured in the TV film. Gary Morton wrote the music and Merilyn Read wrote the lyrics. John Brough, Geri Childs, Teresa Dunn, and Craig Kennedy are credited as singers.[6][7]

Critical reception

David Knox at TV Tonight commented on the subject of death and the way it is depicted in Children's Television, citing the pilot of Babar as an example, "This week ABC replayed the pilot episode of the animated series in which the baby elephant loses his mother to a hunter after being shot by a rifle. Produced by a Canadian company in 1989 it doesn't shy away from the separation of mother and child, as written in the original Babar the Elephant stories." An ABC spokesperson told TV Tonight that ABC had carefully considered the content which aired at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC2 for a G-rated audience, ABC in Australia (2 July 1990 - 3 June 2012) "At no point in the sequence was there any depiction of blood or wounds, and the depiction of the rifle being used was very careful and discreet. The simple animation style reduced the level of detail of the rifle and the action. While there was a sense of threat and menace associated with the hunter and his use of violence, having regard to the animation style, the level of visual detail, and the stylized manner in which the action was depicted, Audience and Consumer Affairs considers that this sense of threat and menace was very low. The violence in the sequence was very discreetly implied, and was not gratuitous as it was a pivotal, dramatic moment of great significance to the story."[8]

Charles Solomon of The Los Angeles Times gave a review of Babar's first few episodes, "The designs for the characters and the simple animation capture the essence of Jean de Brunhoff's understated watercolor illustrations. The artists occasionally seem to lose their sense of the characters' size and weight: The young Babar jumps and climbs in ways that seem very unelephantlike (but very few elephants wear uniforms and crowns, as the adult Babar does). As the voice of Babar, Gordon Pinsent gives the elephant king a reassuring presence and keeps the mildly didactic stories from bogging down in moralizing. Child actors provide the voices for the young Babar and his friends, which makes the show sound a lot like a "Peanuts" special at times. Created by the Canadian Nelvana studio—the producers of the entertaining "My Pet Monster"--"Babar" manages to be endearing without sliding into the saccharine cutesiness of Hello Kitty. Parents with children in the 4-to-10-year-old range should plan on setting their VCRs: The kids will probably want to watch Babar more than once."[9]

Common Sense Media finds the series suitable for viewers aged 4 and up, and has given the series 4 stars of 5 adding, "Babar is a good role model who promotes sharing and getting along with others."[10] They continued to say that Parents Need to Know that "Although the show is an ideal pick for preschoolers, most kids will probably outgrow it by the time they're 7". The review ended by saying, "Many shows adapted from books tend to move at a slow pace. But Babar provides enough adventure and silliness to keep even the most active preschooler engaged. As an extra plus, the music is beautifully orchestrated. Babar exemplifies the lesson that all of us are the same on the inside. These elephants hold their trunks high, but they also know that money doesn't conquer all. Many kids' shows depict well-off characters as villainous and/or gluttonous; Babar shows kids that wealth doesn't necessarily equate to greed."[10]


In 1990, the TV series won a 7 d'Or award for Best Youth Program (Meilleure émission pour la jeunesse). In 1989, the TV series won a Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Patrick Loubert, Lenora Hume, Clive A. Smith, and Michael Hirsh). In 1990, the show won a Gemini for Best Animated Program or Series (Patrick Loubert, Michael Hirsh, and Clive A. Smith). It was also nominated for a Gemini award for Best Original Music Score for a Series (Milan Kymlicka). In 1992, the TV series won a Gemini award for Best Animated Program or Series (Clive A. Smith, Patrick Loubert, and Michael Hirsh).[11]

DVD releases

In Region 2, Fremantle Home Entertainment released 3 single disc collections on DVD in the UK on May 4, 2009.[12][13][14]

On June 5, 2012, Entertainment One released the complete first season on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time.[15]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Babar - The Classic Series: The Complete First Season 13 June 5, 2012

2000 series

Babar (2000)
Genre Animation
Created by see creator
Starring Dan Lett
Janet-Laine Green
Kyle Fairlie
Kristen Bone
Noah Reid
Phillip Williams
Chris Wiggins
Jesse Vinet
Kristin Fairlie
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 13
Executive producer(s) Patrick Loubert
Michael Hirsh
Clive A. Smith
Robert Réa
Kyojiro Amano
Clifford Ross
Running time 33 minutes
Production company(s) Nelvana
Original network CBS
PBS Kids
Original release September 23, 2000 – May 5, 2001

There was a revival of the animated series in 2000 for the company Nelvana Limited, and the Kodansha company in Japan. Most of the episodes for the revival series have Babar and his family traveling in a hot-air balloon to different Lands of Adventure, such as the Land of Toys.

Voices of the characters

PBS funding

See also


  1. 1 2 "Babar Episodes". CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  2. Solomon, Charles (April 1, 1989). "'Babar' Debut on HBO Holds a Trunkful of Charm". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  3. "Babar at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  4. Lady Retaxes' real name, Louise, is revealed in the episode "No Place Like Home"
  5. "Babar Comes to America at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  6. "Babar and Father Christmas". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  7. "History of Animation 1981 - 1990". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  8. Knox, David (2010-11-12). "Babar's first steps to tragedy". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  9. Solomon, Charles (1989-04-01). "'Babar' Debut on HBO Holds a Trunkful of Charm". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  10. 1 2 "Babar at commonsensemedia". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  11. "Awards for "Babar" at IMDb". Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  12. Babar - The Missing Crown Affair
  13. Babar - School Days
  14. King Tuttle's Vote
  15. Lambert, David. "Babar - Front Cover Box Art for 'The Classic Series: Season 1' on DVD". Retrieved April 5, 2012.

External links

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