The Three Ships is one of the seven Magical Events. This event features three cruise liner-style ships, which look similar to the Queen Mary cruise liner. They sail past Teletubbyland after it fills itself with water (except the place where the Teletubbies are watching the event), turning it into an ocean. The ships then disappear at the end of the event and the water disappears, with a plug hole sound at the end. The sketch first aired in 1997 in the episode Playing in the Rain.
Some Teletubbies fans are scared of or dislike the sketch due to the strange appearance of the ships. The fans are scared of what's controlling the ships, they fear where the water has come from, they are scared the way the ships come from above the horizon and then disappear like ghosts, they want to know where the ships came from and why the ships even came. Other Teletubbies fans enjoy the sketch and do not find it scary at all. They know the ships aren't being sailed by anyone, the ships are magic and can move all by themselves. The water is also magic, though also man made by special effects, using computer animation. The ships are CGI animated and have small flags on their hulls. Most Teletubbies fans have enjoyed the sketch and love the animation, effects, music, and feeling of it.
The Three Ships appear on some various episodes. They are:
Numbers - 3 (Version 1)
Magical Surprises (VHS/DVD)
Happy Birthday! (DVD) (Playing in the Rain)
Autumn Fun (DVD) (Making Bread)
The Beach (US Version only)
Colours - Blue (US Version only)
Washing the Car (US Version only)
The magical event starts with The Magic Windmill spinning. The Teletubbies arrive at the Magic Event place. The Baby Sun giggles and the Teletubbies then hear a ship's horn. They then run off to the destination of the Magical Event. A puddle appears and it magically grows bigger and bigger, filling Teletubbyland with water and turning it into a deep ocean (though some parts of land remain unflooded). The Teletubbies then sit down on a hill and giggle happily. Jolly harp music starts playing and the same ship's horn is heard, along with the sound of splashing water. Three black dots appear on the horizon and gradually get bigger, with the horn still heard. A tune that sounds like 'I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In On Christmas Day' starts playing. The black dots are revealed to be three ships similar to the RMS Queen Mary that blows their horns numerous times and sail very close to the screen but then turn to port (left) and the Teletubbies see the rest of the ships. The ships are then shown sailing in different positions across the ocean (behind, from the sides, and in front). After a few laps of the ocean, they turn to starboard (right) and then back to port (left), before sailing away and blowing a farewell horn. The ships sail across the ocean and out of sight, with the jolly music coming to an end. The ocean remains for a few seconds before the water starts to shrink turning into puddles with the dry land being revealed again with the sound of a gargling plug hole. The Magic Windmill stops spinning or the Sun Baby giggles.
- There is a picture of a flower on the flags of the Three Ships.
- Playing In The Rain and The Helicopter are the only two episodes that do not have Baby Sun giggling when the Teletubbies go to watch the Three Ships.
- In Cafe Chocolate, the Teletubbies don't giggle when they are sitting on the hill looking at the water. However, in all other episodes, they do giggle.
- In The Helicopter, a fade effect is used after the Magical Event. The fade transitions to the Magic Windmill about to stop spinning.
- When the water drains, the animation of the water filling up is played backwards.
- In Making Bread the Sun Baby giggles for Tubby Bye-Bye.
- In Paddling by the Sea, the Magic Windmill stops spinning and goes to the Splashing Dance.
- If you look closely at the scene where the water fills up and/or drains, you can clearly see that it's just a still picture as the clouds and trees don't move at all.