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Classic Barney

Show Info

Barney, the purple dinosaur, was created in 1987 by a former teacher named Sheryl Leach. Leach had dreamed of creating educational and entertaining videos for preschool children. She joined with another former teacher, Kathy Parker, and video producer, Dennis DeShazer, to tape the first Barney home videos. Initially, they envisioned the main character to be a cuddly bear which comes to life. After Leach noticed her toddler son’s fascination with dinosaurs at a museum exhibit, the main character for the videos became the purple dinosaur we all know as “Barney”.

The first Barney home videos were released in 1988. Leach organized a sales team (dubbed “Mom Blitzers”) to sell the videos to toy and video stores across the country. In 1991, a Barney video was rented from a Connecticut video store for four-year-old Leora Rifkin, the daughter of Larry Rifkin. Rifkin happened to be the executive vice president of programming for Connecticut Public Television. Rifkin’s daughter’s enchantment with the video led to a phone call to Leach inviting her to put Barney on public television.

Barney & Friends made its debut on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in April 1992 and quickly became the #1 preschool show. Barney & Friends features Barney’s friend Baby Bop, her big brother BJ, and a culturally diverse cast of children who have fun learning about friendship, sharing, cooperation, respect for others, good manners, self-esteem, and good health and safety habits. At the conclusion of each episode, Barney reviews and summarizes the episode’s educational concepts. According to Educational Research & Development Director, May Ann Dudko, Ph.D., “Each Barney episode emphasizes language and cognitive development, physical activity and social interaction.” Dudko adds, “Interesting, meaningful, and relevant topics are selected to present educational concepts appropriate for, and eagerly embraced by, the target group of children ages two to five.” The educational value of Barney & Friends has been documented by a Yale study that revealed as many as 150 teaching moments per episode. The Yale study concluded by describing Barney & Friends as, “nearly a model of what a preschool program should be.”

Barney & Friends is produced and owned by Lyric Studios, a U.S. based entertainment company that distributes television shows, movies, home videos, DVDs, CDs, cassettes, book and toys. On February 9, 2001, Lyrick Studios announced that it was merging with HIT Entertainment, one of the global leaders in children’s entertainment, based in the United Kingdom.

Interesting Barney Facts:
  • Today Barney & Friends is televised in over 100 countries and remains one of the top-rated shows for preschoolers.
  • The Barney Fan Club was launched in 1989, is international, and has a membership of over 1 million.
  • Lyrick has made approximately 50 consumer videos of Barney and more than 60 million Barney videos have been sold in North America.
  • Barney first audio release, “Barney’s Favorites: Volume 1” is now triple platinum, and has remained on top of children’s overall charts since its release in 1993.
  • The first Barney books were published in 1993, with over a hundred million copies sold worldwide.
  • The Barney Magazine was launched in 1994.
  • Barney was rated the #1 Kids’ Artist according to Billboard Magazine in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
  • A touring theatrical stage, “Barney’s Big Surprise”, was seen by almost two million fans during 1996-1998, and was named the “Best Family Touring Show of the Year” in 1997 by Performance magazine.
  • The first Barney feature film, “Barney’s Great Adventure”, was released in 1998.
  • Barney’s second stage show, “Barney’s Musical Castle”, made its debut in 1999 and will be seen by a projected two million fans in 80 cities over two years.
  • Over 100 episodes of Barney & Friends have been made and a new broadcast contract with PBS licensing has been signed for 40 new episodes until 2007

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Barney and Friends is owned by HIT entertainment