Pingu's Biography

By Silvio Mazzola, the author of the Pingu stories.

PINGU grows up

A lot has happened since 1986, when we first had the idea of telling stories for children and everyone else who wishes to keep a fresh approach to life and to be open to nature. PINGU has grown up, but has remained a naughty, charming and surprising little penguin. With his red beak, big eyes and disarming character, he has reached more than a billion people through TV and products. His adventures are still the same everyday stories and he has not learnt so much that he has had to change his character or his behaviour. PINGU has grown up more at the merchandising side. Millions of fans and consumers watch PINGU on TV and buy articles with its friendly face on them. PINGU has become one of the most well-loved comic characters. In Japan, where PINGU is known by over 90% of the high school girls between the ages of 13 and 17, PINGU is a celebrity. In England PINGU has become a household name. The BBC has shown PINGU regularly for several years and is still having a huge success with his programme. In Switzerland, where PINGU first came into the world, even though he does not feel at all Swiss, he has found an important partner. MIGROS, the largest retailer in Switzerland, has fallen in love with PINGU and is offering an incredible range of food and non-food products. Soon PINGU will be as famous as Swiss watches and Swiss cheese. What MIGROS has done in Switzerland we hope that it can be done in France too. The difference is that that market is four to five times bigger than that of MIGROS. So little PINGU will be moving into bigger markets, and will hopefully find a place as a private label with the big retailers. This should not be a problem because PINGU offers a unique position to partners: who else can give retailers the opportunity to use, on an exclusive basis, the same label as a current and highly popular TV series? Plus the fact that PINGU can be used for any article or idea that fits in with the main target group: the family. Children and adults have the same degree of sympathy for this black-and-white hero from the South Pole. This has been proved by thousands of licensed products. Cosmetics, food, toys, beach articles and clothing are just a few of the successful products with the name of PINGU. Let's now take a look at what our partners have done with PINGU.

Pingu tomorrow

What has happened over the last 10 years cannot be repeated. PINGU has reached a size that requires a lot of administration. The trademark has to be registered and protected, the partners have to be monitored, the proposed items have to be checked in a short space of time, the finance of the administration and the protection of the rights require high capacities. PINGU is still small but is growing. Tomorrow we will have to do more than today. Fortunately almost everything has been computerized. But this is not enough. We are going to go onto INTERNET to make things easier and faster. We will keep you informed. One of the steps is to produce longer stories rather than another TV series. This should give us a better impact on the video business and a better position in TV selling. Perhaps PINGU will start to speak, as he already does successfully on the 900'000 audio cassettes that have been sold. But there is still a lot to do, such as finding a good voice artist with the characteristic PINGU voice of Carlo Bonomi.

PINGU FAQ - Version 3 19.10.95

Compiled by Helen, with the assistance of those on alt.tv.pingu. Contributions welcome!

This list gives some information on the series 'Pingu', five-minute animations produced by Trickfilmstudio in Switzerland. The series is one of those that appeals to both adults and children, and never hesitates to tackle the earthier side of life.


Pingu lives on the ice-cap with his mother, his postman father and his baby sister Pinga. They live in a small village with all the usual shops, a school, lots of abandoned ice sculptures to play in, a skating rink and a skittles alley. His friends are Ping and Pingo, and Robby the seal. His enemies include a mean-minded seagull....


Some natural laws obviously don't apply on the ice-cap. Here are some examples.

Wood stoves in an igloo, without melting the place. However you can melt snowmen with them!
The igloo varies in size - it is much bigger inside than out.
Pingu can change shape and size, (and also he has a detachable head when he's really getting down....) Pinga can also do this to some extent. (Of course they can, they're made of plasticine, but we're not dealing in reality here!) Penguin eggs dance, extruding feet for the purpose.
Penguins can ski and skate, using the appropriate strap-on equipment.
Pingu's parents have coat tails that they can spread over eggs, flap in emergencies and so on.
What is the black and white outfit on the washing line?
Where does the electricity for the record player, iron and washing machine come from? (and the doorbell...)
Can you really do house repairs with well-aimed snowballs?
What is the fish exchange rate?
What fuel does the family transport run on? (you know, the thing with the caterpillar track, the bulb horn and the luggage rack at the rear)
Is Pinga ever going to lose her baby plumage? Also, some episodes she is crawling about, and then the next week she is an accomplished jazz trumpet player! Pingu too does anything from building with bricks to running a circus.
How can you play a mouth-organ with a beak?
Pingu and Pinga can trash the place in no time at all, but most things are easily restored to their rightful state with a few circus tricks.
Penguin skins seem to have side pockets for money!
Who is Pingu's girlfriend? (the one with the extreme eyelashes)
Would a penguin have a teddy-bear?
Baby penguins drink milk from bottles(!), use dummies, wear nappies and need knitted outfits.
Penguin obstetrics is a simple science, needing only three items; the appropriate hat, a pair of ice skates for fast arrival and a large spoon for cracking the egg.
Pingu has teeth!!
Where are the telephone cables? (Buried under the ice, I assume)

and of course..

What on earth are they saying?


The family is very enlightened - Dad does the ironing (while smoking a pipe)
The penguin skeleton in the doctor's surgery.
The subtle differences in beak shape between Pingu and his pals The 'gezunder' by Pingu's bed!


Somebody has thought all this out and the penguins display a consistent set of actions. Once you get the hang of these all becomes a lot clearer, and you will probably find yourself using them too!

flippers flapping and wide eyes; fear/concern/uncertainty
beak extending trumpet like and 'meck-meck' sound - announcement of arrival, also abuse (this gesture is only used by Pingu himself)
flipper held high with tip waving; goodbye
deep nod and 'mm-hmm' sounds; agreement (this is used a lot in our house)
flipper over beak and evil sniggering sounds ('hoo-hoo-hoo!') ; up to no good (so is this!)
flippers held out and up; cuddle request
jumping up and down to impossible heights; excitement/celebration
flipper balled into fist, screwed up eyes, growls; anger (of course)
chamberpot booted across the room - frustration/boredom

interpersonal gestures;
to soothe concerned small penguins - stroke the head from front to back
small penguin greeting - 'high fives'
Mr and Mrs penguin greeting - beak rubbing, smiles and giggles

Robby the seal doesn't follow all these rules, and is prone to frequent helpless giggles. When he has a tantrum he sits up and flips his tail back and forth under him. We think he's on drugs.


It is not clear whether titles come from the creators, or whether the BBC make them up. Here's my top seven.

'New Arrival' - in which the egg hatches with the help of the penguin midwife and a large spoon, and Pingu's baby sister Pinga makes her debut.

'Misbehaviour' - in which Pingu's parents go out for the evening, leaving two sleeping young penguins who immediately run riot when the door closes. Note that Pingu's dad finds opera a little tedious...

'Sledging' - Pingu dusts off his sledge but can't keep up due to rusty runners. His friends soothe his tears by showing him how to polish them up, but he gets more speed than he bargains for...

'Little Accidents' - in which Pingu gives Pinga too much squash to drink, and then finds that he also is in a hurry to get to the little penguin's room. There's some great body language in this one.

'Pingu's Circus' - Pingu, Pinga and Robby set up their own circus, as clowns, jugglers and acrobats. Look out for the Laurel and Hardy moment when Pingu does some weightlifting.

'Christmas' - in which many presents are wrapped, Mum and Dad have a row and carols are sung round the tree.

'Pingu Cannot Lose' or 'Skittles' - a baffling episode in which the rules of the game aren't too clear, but many high fives and lots of giggling are exchanged.


'Pingu' is made in Switzerland. More to follow if I can get answers from the BBC!


Pingu appears sometimes on the BBC, usually in the children's slot on Saturday mornings on weekday afternoons. The presenters love it: 'and now, what the nation wants - Pingu!!'


currently available in the UK - Pingu wrapping paper and gift tags, bubble bath, tissues, Pingu magazine, videos, audio tapes, story books.

Available videos; Pingu 1 (Barrel of Fun), Pingu 2(Building Igloos),Pingu 3 (Hide and Seek),Pingu 4, Pingu's Big Video, Pingu the Photographer. Another one just out, title escapes me at the moment. Note that some episodes appear on several of these tapes, check if buying more than one.

available in Switzerland; Pingu flakes!!
available in Japan (where they are big fans): biscuits, more plushies (inc Pinga), Key rings, Lunch boxes. And you can buy a Pingu Laserdisc.


Mark says:-

To subscribe to the BBC's Pingu Magazine write to

Pingu Subscriptions
PO Box 425
GU21 1GP
United Kingdom

EPISODES (nowhere near complete)

The Seagull - messy stuff!!
Hide and Seek - Pingu and Robby chase about, and do a hula dance
Pingu and the Barrel Organ - Pingu does some charity work, learns to play the harmonica and does a neat dance.
Pingu looks after the egg -
The New Arrival - the midwife arrives with skates and spoon, and Pinga makes her debut
Lost Baby
Jealousy - Pingu is a bit peeved at the attention received by Pinga, but finds out that he will get noticed if he behaves. Great chamberpot kicking and tantrums.
Pingu goes on a visit - mustn't wake the baby!
Many Packages - Pingu and Pinga are playing oneupmanship with Grandpa's presents.
Pingu the Photographer
Little Accidents -
Pingu and the Strangers - Pingu shows the townspeople how not to be prejudiced
Pingu gets a bicycle - in which Pinga's toy meets with an accident, and the family have to find a way to stop her tantrum.
Pingu goes Ice-Surfing
Pingu helps his mother - high comedy as soap goes everywhere
Pingu's Circus -

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