Kaj and Andrea
By Lone Nyhuus, journalist, former dancer and choreografer, 2006
Perpetually young animal dolls
We all know them. The turquoise-striped, shiny- feathered, billed creature Andrea and the grumpy, rather jazzy, broad-mouthed frog Kaj! And nearly all Danes are also capable of singing a few lines of their songs, such as the Commit Spoonerisms Song (Bakke snagvendt-sangen): “If you say missetand (cat tooth), it comes out as tissemand (penis).” A piece of spoonerist text often accompanied by a little snigger.
Behind a sofa
The hand dolls Kaj and Andrea made their entrance into the life of Danes via the TV screen in the spring of 1971. The basis of the whole show was a sofa, which the dolls were able to stand on - and the doll operators could hide behind. Singer and musician Povl Kjoeller and actor Kjeld Noergaard were designated the task of appearing together with the dolls; they were grown-up, reasonable sort of people that not only the childlike dolls but also the child viewers could rely on.
Nothing to fear
When trouble breaks out - and that happens specially involving Andrea, who is the very epitome of a stubborn five-year-old - a solution is always near at hand. The universe is harmonious, so is the camerawork. With the help of cool pictures, we are able to follow Kaj and Andrea’s journey on their way to reaching an understanding of the world of the adults. It can be a question of learning to go to the grocer’s. Or an attempt to grasp something as abstract as the phenomenon of time. “Yesterday tomorrow was today ....” repeats Andrea, for example, in interrogative mode. The parrot is also aware of the importance of a good rhyme, because that’s what helps people to remember the songs! Those songs in which the TV broadcasts abound.
Just as fresh as in 1971
These well-known doll figures have fascinated children (and adults) in Denmark since 1971, achieving - along with one of the show’s founders - Povl Kjoeller - a sort of cult status. With their own website, countless repeats of their hits, an entire repeat performance of the show in 1999 - this time with Ole Kibsgaard and Christine Skou as the grown-ups - we can only conclude that you can never be too old for Kaj and Andrea. And Kaj and Andrea are still on the ball - just as fresh as back in 1971 when they presented themselves to the public for the first time.
Did you know?
The foam rubber inside Kaj and Andrea crumbled in the middle of the 90s, which caused DR to worry. The original dolls were - in the best 70's style - sewn from fabric residues from Hanne Willumsens children's clothes. Every single color, pattern and structure of the fabric had to be recreated down to the smallest detail. Andreas' penetrating voice is also a kind of copy, because it comes from a customer in Hanne Willumsen's father's grocery store ... "Nicely hello!"
The Committee's justification
By the Committee for Performing Arts, 2006
Kaj and Andrea is one of Denmark’s most popular entertainment couples ever. DR’s television series for children with the dolls Kaj and Andrea was first broadcast in 1971-1976 and has since been repeated several times. One of the series’ strengths is the very fine drawing of the figures: Kaj the frog is known as the boyish, outspoken and jazz-loving blusterer, whose male pride is easily bruised, resulting in pressed lips. Andrea the parrot is pretty, self-conscious and feminine, with a preference for princess tiaras and tulle skirts. She sacrifices sunflower seeds and her own interests for domestic peace and convinces Kaj that “...although there are differences between us, we are good friends”.
The two archetypes were supported by two very good adults in the 1970s, who were like substitute parents for the young viewers: the musician Povl Kjøller and actor Kjeld Nørgaard, who was backed in a corner, played singing games with the frog and bird and made various crazy comic sketches.
The fact that the series made an indelible impression on children can be seen from the fact that Povl Kjøller’s songs in the mid-1990s underwent a cultural revival among the 18 to 20-year-olds who, despite their piercings and green hair, sang along to the bicycle song, the song about time, which was very strange, besides all the other familiar things from the series.
Kaj and Andrea was revived in a new TV show in 1999 with the help of actor Christine Skou and musician Ole Kibsgaard. The dolls’ popularity remains intact with many nostalgic adults, and new viewers are also captivated by the opinionated frog and the well-meaning parrot. Stars of Kaj and Andrea’s calibre do not die off easily!