For over five decades, German families have dealt with the parent-child struggle over bedtime by deferring to a television character: the Sandmännchen. The animated character, a construction worker by day, takes children on fantasy adventures around the world before putting his weary-eyed audience to bed with a handful of magic sleep dust.
There once used to be two versions, one on each side of the Wall. When it came to politics and the economy, German reunification meant the West ruled the day, but the Wende rang in the victory of the Ossi Sandman.
Created in 1959 by TV animator Gerhard Behrendt who modeled him after a character from Hans Christian Andersen, the cute puppet has not aged one bit in over five decades, nor does he seem to have lost his appeal with the younger ones.
With Sandmännchen puppets, calendars and Überraschung eggs available for sale, the puppet has nicely profited from Ostalgie. When the character turned 50, a new wave of interest even inspired the making of a film (Das Sandmännchen – Abenteuer im Traumland) and some merchandising attempts at your local multiplex.
At the end of the five-minute daily adventure, Sandmännchen sings a lullaby, enticing children to climb into bed, closing with the lines: “Children, dear children, that was fun. Now, quick, to bed and sleep tight. Then I will also go and rest. I wish you a good night.”
Too bad it’s only 18:00 – and it airs on Kika only an hour later. Modern he might be, but Sandmännchen seems to have lost touch with the modern bedtime.
Daily, RBB 17:55; Kika 18:50