Barney & Friends

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Barney & Friends
Genre Children's television series
Created by Sheryl Leach [1]
Kathy Parker
Dennis DeShazer
Based on Barney and the Backyard Gang by Sheryl Leach [1]
Presented byBob West (1992–2002)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009)
Starring David Joyner (1991–2001)
Carey Stinson (1994, 2002–2009)
Josh Martin (1997; Barney suit)
Bob West (1988–2000; Barney voice)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009; Barney voice)
Jenny Dempsey (1992–1993)
Jeff Ayers (1993–2008)
Lauren Mayeux (2009; Baby Bop suit)
Julie Johnson (Baby Bop voice)
Jeff Brooks (1994–2002)
Kyle Nelson (2002–2009; BJ suit)
Patty Wirtz (BJ voice)
Adam Brown (Riff suit)
Michaela Dietz (Riff voice)
Voices ofBob West (1992–2002)
Duncan Brannan (1999–2002)
Tim Dever (1999–2002)
Dean Wendt (2002–2009)
Julie Johnson
Patty Wirtz
Michaela Dietz
Opening themeBarney Theme Song
Ending themeI Love You
A Friend Like You (various episodes, 2006–2010)
ComposersPhil Parker (1990–1999)
Bob Singleton (1990–2000)
Joe Phillips (1996–2009)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons14
No. of episodes268 (list of episodes)
Executive producers Sheryl Leach (1988–1998)
Kathy Parker (1988–1993)
Dennis DeShazer (1988–2002)
Randy Dalton (2002–2005)
Karen Barnes (2006–2009)
Production locations Allen, Texas (1992–1993)
Irving, Texas (1995–2000)
Carrollton, Texas (2002–2009)
Running time30 minutes (1992–2005, 2008–2009)
15 minutes (2006–2007, 2010)
Production companiesLyons Partnership L.P.
Connecticut Public Television (1992–2005)
Lyrick Studios (1994–2001)
HIT Entertainment [2] (2001–2010)
WNET New York (2006–2010)
Distributor Lyrick Studios (1994–2001, US)
Southern Star (Mid-90s–2001, Non-US) [3] [4]
HIT Entertainment (2001–2010)
Original network PBS (PBS Kids) [5]
Picture format NTSC (480i) (1992–2008)
HDTV (1080i) (2009–2010)
Original releaseApril 6, 1992 (1992-04-06) 
November 2, 2010 (2010-11-02)
Preceded by Barney and the Backyard Gang
External links

Barney & Friends is an American children's television series targeted at young children aged 2–7, created by Sheryl Leach. The series 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, silly and optimistic attitude. [6] [7] [8] [9] The series ended on November 2, 2010, although new videos were still released on various dates after the last episode aired. Reruns aired on Sprout from 2005 until 2015, and from December 17, 2018, onward on Sprout's successor network, Universal Kids.


In 2015, a revival was announced to premiere in 2017, but was delayed into an undated launch. [10] On October 18, 2019, Mattel Films announced that a second Barney film was to be produced; British actor Daniel Kaluuya's production company was involved. [11]

Origin and development

Barney was created by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas. [12] She came up with the idea of a children's program after noticing that her son outgrew Wee Sing Together , [13] [14] and then recognizing that there were no videos to appeal to her son. Leach then brought together a team who created a series of home videos, Barney and the Backyard Gang , initially released in 1988. The first three videos starred actress Sandy Duncan. [15]

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 be developed for PBS. Rifkin thought Barney had appeal because he was not 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 Barney show. Franklin and Rifkin convinced Leach to let CPTV revamp the concept for television. [16] The show debuted as Barney & Friends in 1992. [17] The series was produced by CPTV and Lyrick Studios (later bought by HIT Entertainment). [18]

Although the show was a runaway hit, PBS initially opted not to provide funding beyond the initial 30-episode run. When Rifkin and other 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 canceled. Faced with an atmosphere that Rifkin later described as "like an insurrection", PBS ultimately relented. [16]

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 9 Story Media Group, HIT Entertainment and Universal Studios, while the TV series was produced by WNET from 2006 to 2010.

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 in the children's imaginations.

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, BJ, or Riff appearing during the episode and numerous songs themed relating to the subject featured in the series. The roles of Baby Bop, BJ, and Riff have grown larger in later seasons and later episodes venture outside of the school to other places within the neighborhood, and in Season 13, to other countries around the world.

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 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


Adults and children

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

Multiple appearances

RoleActor/ActressDescription 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 StorytellerPhyllis CiceroStella 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 & the Backyard Gang videos.
Mr. BoydRobert SweatmonHis 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.
ColleenClaire BurdettColleen 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".
DavidRobert HurtekantDavid 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.[ citation needed ] Only a small portion of these actors have made notable appearances in media since their roles, including:

Movies and specials


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. Australian based company and distributor Southern Star handled non-US rights to the series from the mid-'90s [3] until 2001 when HIT revoked the deal after acquiring Lyrick. [4]

Two known co-productions of Barney & Friends have been produced outside of the US. The Israeli co-production Hebrew : החברים של ברניHachaverim 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 were adapted with a unique set and exclusive child actors. [22] [23] The second co-production was broadcast in South Korea from 2001 to 2003 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).


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 among those used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay detention camp to coerce detainees. [24] The similar use of "I Love You" to inflict psychological stress on Iraqi prisoners-of-war was examined by Jon Ronson in his 2004 book The Men Who Stare At Goats .

Awards and nominations

1993Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's SeriesSheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazerNominated
1993Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Children's SeriesStephen White, Mark S. BernthalNominated
1994Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound EffectsRon Balantine, David M. BootheNominated
1994Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's SeriesSheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazerNominated
1996Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Pre-School Children's SeriesSheryl Leach, Dennis DeShazer, Jim Rowley,Nominated
1998Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lighting DirectionKen Craig, Murray K. CampbellNominated
1998Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound MixingRon Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary FrenchNominated
1999Daytime Emmy for Outstanding DirectingJim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve FeldmanNominated
1999Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound MixingRon Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary FrenchNominated
2000Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound MixingRon Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary FrenchNominated
2001Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound MixingRon Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary FrenchWon (tied with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire )
2003Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action and AnimationPatrick Sellars, Neal AndersonNominated
2006Daytime Emmy for Outstanding DirectingJim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve FeldmanNominated
2008Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/StylingLisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle HuchtonNominated
2009Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/StylingLisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle HuchtonNominated


Several people have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, who called the program a "model of what preschool television should be". [25] Others have criticized the show for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive. [26]

The show is often cited as a contributing factor to the perceived sense of entitlement seen in millennials, who grew up watching the show. [27] [28] 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." [29] [30]

The creator and performer of the San Diego Chicken mascot, Ted Giannoulas, called Barney a "ubiquitous and insipid creature" in a 1999 court case.

Barney & Friends ranked #50 on TV Guide 's 2002 list of the 50 worst TV shows of all time. [31] The show has also been parodied in many forms; see Anti-Barney humor.

In a 1993 newspaper article, Jerry Franklin, the head of Connecticut Public Television, which co-produced Barney at the time, was quoted thus:

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. [32]

Howard Blumenthal, producer of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, said “Even the most knowledgeable people … can't really understand why that [Barney] phenomenon happened and another didn't". [33]

See also

Related Research Articles

HIT Entertainment British-American entertainment company

HIT Entertainment Ltd. was a British-American entertainment company originally established in 1982 as Henson International Television. It was founded as the international distribution arm of Jim Henson Productions. HIT owned and distributed children's television series such as Barney & Friends, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends, Pingu, Fireman Sam and Angelina Ballerina. In 2011, the company was acquired by Mattel and later folded into its Mattel Creations division in 2016.

Itzik Kol was an Israeli television and film producer considered by many to be a pioneer and originator of Israeli cinema. He died following complications from pneumonia.

Anti-Barney humor

Anti-Barney humor is a form of humor that targets the main character Barney the Dinosaur from the children's television series Barney & Friends and singles out the show for criticism.

Bob West American voice actor and graphic designer

Robert Matthew West is an American voice actor and graphic designer, who is best known as the original voice of Barney in the PBS children's television series Barney & Friends. West, a native of Pennsylvania, has also appeared in several Barney-related shows such as concert tours.

<i>Barney and the Backyard Gang</i>

Barney and the Backyard Gang is a direct-to-video series produced by The Lyons Group and was released in periodic installments from August 29, 1988 to August 1, 1991. This series launched the PBS television show, Barney & Friends.

Connecticut Public Television PBS member network

Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) is the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member network for the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is owned by Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a community-based non-profit organization that holds the licenses for all PBS member stations licensed in the state, and also owns the state's National Public Radio (NPR) member, Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR). Together, the television and radio stations make up the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN). CPBN is the state's only locally owned media organization producing TV, radio, print and Internet content for distribution across the state. As of 2019, Mark Contreras was announced as the new President / CEO. The organizational structure of CPTV also includes a Board of Trustees. The network co-produced the long-running children's television series, Barney & Friends until the show were transferred to WNET.

<i>Barneys Great Adventure</i> 1998 American film directed by Steve Gomer

Barney's Great Adventure is a 1998 American musical comedy adventure film based on the children's television series Barney & Friends, featuring Barney the Dinosaur in his first ever feature-length film. The plot follows Barney, along with three young children named Cody, Abby, and Marcella, as they discover a magical egg in a barn. After learning that the egg is a dream maker, Barney and the gang must return the egg to the barn before it hatches. The film was written by Stephen White, directed by Steve Gomer, produced by Sheryl Leach and Lyrick Studios and released by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment on March 27, 1998 in the United States and Canada at the height of Barney's popularity.

Angelina Ballerina is a children's book series by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig about a fictional mouse who is training to become a ballerina. The first book in the series was published in 1983, and since then there have been over twenty books in the series. The series is set in Chipping Cheddar, a place similar to 1920s London. The name "Angelina" was inspired by an editor named Angela at Aurum Press.

Sheryl Lyna Stamps Leach is an American children's TV show creator and author much known for being the creator of the popular children's show Barney & Friends. Kathy Parker and Dennis DeShazer joined her in creating the show. Leach left the show in 1998.

The PBS Kids Preschool Block was a programming block of television shows aimed at preschool aged children which aired on PBS Kids. The block premiered with Curious George on Monday, September 4, 2006. The block was aired weekdays at 8:00 AM local time on most PBS member stations. The block was discontinued in 2013 with the introduction of the updated PBS Kids brand.

Daniel Kaluuya British-Ugandan actor

Daniel Kaluuya is a Ugandan-British actor and former writer. Kaluuya began his acting career as a teenager in improvisational theatre. He subsequently portrayed Posh Kenneth in the first two seasons of the British television series Skins; he also co-wrote some of the episodes. Kaluuya was particularly praised for his leading performance in Sucker Punch at the Royal Court Theatre in London and he won both the Evening Standard Award and Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer. In 2018, he received the BAFTA Rising Star Award.

Lyrick Studios

Lyrick Studios was an American video production and distribution company based in Allen, a Dallas suburb. The company was known for producing and distributing television shows, home videos, audio products and children's books and toys, particularly for their flagship property Barney & Friends. In August 2001, the company was acquired by and later folded into HIT Entertainment.

<i>A Day in the Park with Barney</i> Live childrens show formerly at Universal Studios Florida

A Day in the Park with Barney was a live children's show at Universal Studios Florida based on the children's television show, Barney & Friends, that opened in 1995 on the former site of The Bates Motel Set used in Psycho IV: The Beginning. It also had a "Barney's Backyard" playground area with a chance to meet Barney in a meet and greet session after the main show in the Barney Theater. It was one of the few places where Bob West's voice could still be heard as the original Barney and one of Universal Studios' attempts to appeal to the younger generation.

<i>Dinosaur Train</i>

Dinosaur Train is an American computer-animated musical children's television series created by Craig Bartlett, who created Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold!. The series features a curious young Tyrannosaurus rex named Buddy who, together with his adopted Pteranodon family, takes the Dinosaur Train to explore his time period, and have adventures with a variety of dinosaurs. It is produced by The Jim Henson Company in association with the Info-communications Media Development Authority, Sparky Animation, FableVision, Snee-Oosh, Inc., Reel FX, and Sea to Sky Entertainment. As of September 2018, PBS Kids had ordered 11 more episodes, taking the total number of episodes to 100. A film based on the series from Universal Pictures and Universal 1440 Entertainment titled, Dinosaur Train: Adventure Island premiered on April 12, 2021.

Barney's Big Surprise was Barney the Dinosaur's first national tour. The show started in 1996 and played in 60 cities, with a program of 28 old and new Barney songs. Originally planned for theaters, it was revised to become more like a rock concert for young children; most of the venues were small arenas with around 5,000 seats, with some larger arenas used as well. A video of the show, which had been taped at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, was released in 1998.

Barney's Colorful World was a stage show based on the Barney franchise. The show was first performed in January 2003 and toured until late 2004. In this stage show, Barney & his friends go around the world with the power of imagination. The video of the stage show was taped at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix, Arizona and was released in September 2004.

Barney's Musical Castle, also called Barney's Musical Castle LIVE and El Castillo Musical de Barney (Spanish), was Barney's fourth concert and his second US tour. The tour began on September 8, 1999, and the video was released in 2001. In this stage show tour, Barney, Baby Bop, BJ and kids go to the forest to visit the king. The home video was taped at the Rosemont Theater.

Kathryn "Kathy" O'Rourke Parker is a children's educational television producer and writer, best known for being co-creator of the popular children's show Barney & Friends with Sheryl Leach and Dennis DeShazer. Kathy received her B.S. in Special Education in 1976 and an M.A. in Learning Disabilities in 1979, both from Eastern Michigan University. She taught in the field of special education in Michigan from 1976 to 1981, before moving to the state of Texas. From 1981 to 1987 she worked at DLM, Inc. of Allen, Texas marketing early childhood educational products and materials. Then, in 1987, personal friends Parker and Leach began working together on the idea that would become Barney & Friends.

<i>Angelina Ballerina</i> (TV series)

Angelina Ballerina is a British animated children's television series, based on the Angelina Ballerina series of children's books by author Katharine Holabird and illustrator Helen Craig. The series is about Angelina Mouseling, a young mouse who loves to dance ballet, and her family and classmates. Finty Williams performed the voice of Angelina, and her real-life mother Judi Dench performed the voice of Miss Lilly, her old ballet teacher.


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Further reading