El Chavo del Ocho

"El Chavo" redirects here. For other uses, see El Chavo (disambiguation).
El Chavo del Ocho
Also known as El Chavo
Genre Sitcom
Created by Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Written by Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Starring Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Carlos Villagran
Ramón Valdés
Florinda Meza
Rubén Aguirre
Edgar Vivar
Angelines Fernández
Horacio Gómez Bolaños
Raúl 'Chato' Padilla
María Antonieta de las Nieves
Opening theme "The Elephant Never Forgets" by Jean-Jacques Perrey
Country of origin Mexico
Original language(s) Spanish
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 290[1] (list of episodes)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 21–26 minutes
Original release 20 June 1971 – 6 January 1980
Related shows El Chavo: The Animated Series
30 Anos de Chaves[2]

El Chavo del Ocho (often shortened to El Chavo) is a Mexican television sitcom that gained enormous popularity in Hispanic America as well as in Brazil, Spain, United States, and other countries.[3] It centers on the adventures and tribulations of the title character—a poor orphan nicknamed "El Chavo" (which means "The Lad"), played by the show's creator, Roberto Gómez Bolaños "Chespirito"—and other inhabitants of a fictional low income housing complex, or, as called in Mexico, vecindad. Its theme song is "The Elephant Never Forgets" by Jean-Jacques Perrey, based on Beethoven's "Turkish March" Op. 113.

El Chavo first appeared in 1971 as a sketch in the Chespirito show, which was produced by Televisión Independiente de México (TIM).[3] In 1973, following the merger of TIM and Telesistema Mexicano, it was transmitted by Televisa and became a weekly half-hour series, which ran until 1980. After that year, shorts continued to be shown in Chespirito until 1992. At its peak of popularity during the mid-1970s, it was the most watched show in Mexican television and had a Latin American audience of 350 million viewers per episode.[4]

The Portuguese dub, Chaves, has been broadcast inferredly by Brazilian TV Network SBT since 1984, and is also seen on the Brazilian versions of Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Since 2 May 2011, it has aired in the United States on the UniMás network.[5] It previously aired on sister network Univision and its predecessor, the Spanish International Network. It spawned an animated series titled El Chavo Animado.

El Chavo continues to be popular, with syndicated episodes averaging 91 million daily viewers in all of the markets where it is distributed in the Americas.[6] Since it ceased production in 1992, it has earned an estimated US$1.7 billion in syndication fees alone for Televisa.[6]



By 1971, Roberto Gómez Bolaños was already well known in Mexico for his self-titled sketch comedy show, which was produced by Televisión Independiente de México and aired on XHTIM-TV, channel 8 (now XEQ-TV channel 9, Gala TV). He had already introduced El Chapulín Colorado and other characters.

The cast of the series photograph themselves for a picture in 1979, just after Carlos Villagrán (Quico) left the show. Chespirito is leaning on Chavo's trademark barrel at the center of the picture.

Roberto Gómez Bolaños was the show's main creator and star. He called Florinda Meza to act in the show first; Chespirito and Meza later married. Édgar Vivar was the second actor chosen for the show. Roberto Gómez Bolaños recruited Ramón Valdés because he had known Valdés for years and had seen multiple movies Valdés had made. Then, Rubén Aguirre was cast in the show as the character of "Profesor Jirafales". Aguirre and Roberto Gómez Bolaños had been working on scripts together for years, and Aguirre had already been playing the character of Professor Jirafales on another Chespirito show, Supergenios de la Mesa Cuadrada, which spoofed current events panel discussion. Carlos Villagrán just happened to be a friend of Aguirre who was a newspaper reporter, and he went to a party hosted by Aguirre. Villagrán did a comedy step where he blew his cheeks out of proportion, and Aguirre told Roberto Gómez Bolaños about his friend's hidden talent. Villagrán was promptly hired for the show. María Antonieta de las Nieves was a voice-over only actress who used to go to Televisa to make announcements. Upon hearing her voice, Roberto Gómez Bolaños thought she was perfect for the show (she first refused telling him she was not a comedy actress, but Roberto Gómez Bolaños's retort challenged her: "Then you're not a good actress: there are no dramatic or comic actors — there are only actors."). The last additions to the show were Angelines Fernández, a former film actress and Horacio Gómez Bolaños, Roberto's younger brother who had never considered acting before; he was originally to oversee the show's marketing.

The first El Chavo sketch was broadcast on June 20, 1971 and featured El Chavo, Chilindrina and Don Ramón. Several "Chavo" sketches produced before the start of the half-hour series were grouped into half-hour segments and are shown before the "official" half-hour episodes in syndication. Many of these were also re-written and re-shot as half-hour-long shows later in the show's life.

Broadcast history

In 1973, Telesistema Mexicano and Televisión Independiente de México merged to become Televisa. After the merger, El Chavo del Ocho became a weekly half-hour TV series.

The early shows were composed of a sketch at the beginning, featuring Dr. Chapatín, El Chómpiras, or one of Roberto Gómez Bolaños' other characters, and two short episodes of the main character. Those episodes were actually sketches filmed in 1971–72 which probably were supposed to be shown on "Chespirito," which was cancelled. After some of those episodes which introduced the first years of the show, the show began to be comprised by an almost half-hour episode preceded by one sketch starring Roberto Gómez Bolaños himself and his characters, as in the first show structure.

At the end of the first season, María Antonieta de las Nieves left the show because of her pregnancy. During the episodes of the 1973 season, including those probably filmed in 1971–72, it was noted De Las Nieves generally played the female leads and was the first actor credited after Chespirito. In her absence, Florinda Meza took over the female roles for the non-Chavo del 8 sketches, and El Chavo and Quico became a great comic pair.

The 1974 season began with El Chavo and Quico as the comic child characters, including Don Ramón as the charismatic adult character. During that season, the classroom scenes began to appear, alongside other child characters like Ñoño (the son of Señor Barriga, both characters played by Edgar Vivar), Popis (one of Florinda Meza's other characters), and the relaxed Godínez (played by Horacio Gómez Bolaños, brother of Roberto Gómez Bolaños).

De las Nieves was given "distinctive" last billing when she returned in 1975. After Valdés and Villagrán left in 1979, she was moved to top billing after Chespirito again. On the hour-long "Chespirito", De las Nieves was often given third billing behind Chespirito and Florinda Meza if playing another character besides Chilindrina, otherwise she always got the special final credit.

When Carlos Villagrán left the show, it was explained that Quico had gone to live with his rich grandmother. "He couldn't stand the riffraff anymore", Doña Florinda explained. Not long after, Ramón Valdés also left the series. Chilindrina explained that Don Ramón left the country to look for a job and that he wouldn't return until he was a millionaire. With the loss of two of its major supporting characters, the ratings for the show slid and Televisa cancelled El Chavo on 6 January 1980.


Later in 1980, Gomez Bolaños returned with a revived version of Chespirito that featuring El Chavo, El Chapulín Colorado and other characters. The debut of El Chavo in this program was auspicious, with a wealth of new episodes being produced. Moreover, in 1981, Valdés joined Chespirito after starring in some unsuccessful shows alongside Villagrán. However, he left again at the end of the year. The number of new episodes started to decline in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so once again, many early episodes were remade.

Eventually, Chespirito's age began to catch up with him and it became harder for him to adequately portray some of his characters, especially El Chavo and El Chapulin Colorado. In 1992, at the age of sixty-three, Chespirito retired the El Chavo character from his show (he did the same thing to El Chapulin Colorado one year later).

Animated series

After several years of successful reruns, Televisa launched simultaneously in all Latin America an animated version of the program made by Ánima Estudios in October 2006. As a background, a 3D computer model was used, though for the characters, 2D drawings were used, created with Flash. A huge program was made to launch it in on a scenario made to imitate the computerized background. Some things about the original program were reminisced and they showed how the animated series was made.

The cartoon also allowed depicting the children to the right scale. Previously, since the children were played by adults in the show, the feel was given to the character through their way of dressing, speaking, and mainly through giving them oversized toys. However, this was not the first attempt to animate it. Previously, during the credits, claymation sequences could be watched.

In this animated series, Chilindrina doesn't appear due to on-going disputes between María Antonieta de las Nieves and Roberto Gómez Bolaños on the rights of "La Chilindrina". De las Nieves feels that she should be entitled to monetary compensation if "La Chilindrina", the character she brought to life in the television series, appears in the animated series. Roberto Gómez Bolaños claims that since he created the character, only he owns the rights to such character. This dispute still hasn't been resolved and so, the character Popis has since taken over the role that once belonged to La Chilindrina in the first session where the chapters were basically animated adaptations of classic Chavo episodes.

The animated series achieved enough fame to have its own videogames, such as a self-titled board/party game for the Nintendo Wii, the racing game El Chavo Kart for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and a social game that could be played through Facebook called La Vecindad del Chavo.

Relation to Walt Disney movies

Dozens of soundtracks from numerous Walt Disney movies (Dumbo, Peter Pan, Snow White, Pinocchio to name a few) were known to be used frequently throughout the show's run during their commercial breaks & whenever the program resumed. They would also use them to provide the mood of the episode, but the music's original subject never actually connected with the mood of the episode: A perfect example is when El Chavo felt lonely (this was during the special episode which the entire cast vacationed in Acapulco) the instrumental to Peter Pan's theme song "The Second Star to the Right" cued to display his loneliness even though the latter song subject is lyrically cheerful.

English dubbing

The only dubbed television series it is El Chavo Animado released by Televisa created by Ánima Estudios in which in English translates to El Chavo: The Animated Series it is produced by AF, Dubbing House a Mexican Post Production House, and it is under the supervision of Fabiola Stevenson and Javier Pontón. Its recording took place at Henckahontas Studio, in Burbank California.[7]

Characters and cast

Production and setting

El Chavo is set in "La Vecindad", a typical Mexican townhouse neighborhood that is owned by Señor Barriga. Señor Barriga is almost always seen in the neighborhood and is usually there to collect the monthly rent from his residents. His best tenant is Doña Florinda, who pays every month on time. His worst tenant is Don Ramón, who never pays his rent and hides from Señor Barriga until he leaves.

The sitcom explores, in a comic manner, the problems that many homeless children face on a daily basis, such as hunger, sadness and not having someone responsible to watch over them. On one episode, for example, Chavo was sitting on the stairsteps of the vecindad at night, dreaming of all the toys he wished that he could have and how he'd play with them. It ended with him re turning to the present, sighing wistfully, then pulling out a balero (the only toy he'd ever had on a regular basis) made of a stick, a tin can, and a piece of string. He begins to play with it as the camera slowly fades out. Some episodes also have educational endings, teaching, for example, that it's good to take a shower and to not judge a book by its cover.

El Patio, the central courtyard, is the setting for most of the episodes. Surrounding the patio, are the homes of Jaimito "El Cartero" (from 1982 onwards), Doña Florinda, Doña Cleotilde, and Don Ramon. The hallway on the right leads to another courtyard ("el otro patio"), the other courtyard, which has a fountain in the middle. On the street facade at the left, La tienda de la esquina and a barber shop are shown adjacent to the neighborhood's entry.

El Chavo was filmed in a fictitious neighborhood set at studios 2, 5 and 8 of Televisa San Angel in Mexico City. In the later seasons, sometimes an unnamed park was shown. Several episodes are set in Professor Jirafales's classroom, where he teaches, all the child characters in the sitcom attend the same classroom. Others are set inside Doña Florinda's restaurant. Three episodes were filmed in Acapulco, which also served as a vacation for the entire cast. In 1992, The last El Chavo sketches were filmed in Professor Jirafales' classroom. The last sketch for El Chavo was a 1992 remake of Clases de Inglés.


Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale
1 11 (8 lost) June 1971 February 1973
2 26 (18 lost) March 1973 December 1973
3 34 (2 lost) February 1974 December 1974
4 35 (3 lost) January 1975 December 1975
5 38 (5 lost) January 1976 December 1976
6 44 (2 lost) January 1977 December 1977
7 34 (3 lost) January 1978 December 1978
8 48 (2 lost) January 1979 January 1980

The first season (1971–1973) is made of sketches that are approximately 7–8 minutes in duration, except "La Fiesta de la Buena Vecindad" which has a 15-minute duration. The first episodes of the 1973 season, and the last ones of El Chavo in the revamped "Chespirito" show, are 15–17 minutes in length (the rest of the running time is filled by sketches of other characters, mostly of "Los Caquitos"), the later episodes last around 23–25 minutes. Most of the episodes of the 1974 season have a duration of 23–25 minutes, with some exceptions lasting 17–19 minutes which have preceding sketches, or the episode "Termina el Romance" that lasts nearly 28 minutes. From 1975 onward, most of the episodes last 23–25 minutes, after 1974, only three episodes with preceding sketches were made (episodes of 17–19 minutes), all in 1975. Starting in 1976, all episodes have a duration of 23 minutes or longer.

Humor style

El Chavo is a farcical sitcom: it relied heavily upon physical comedy, running gags, literal interpretations, double entendres, misinterpretation (and even, sometimes, elements from the comedy of errors) in order to amuse the audience, and the characters and situations were mostly persistent.

Some of the best-known examples of recurring humor are:

Reception and legacy

A statue of El Chavo in Cali, Colombia

The show is the most translated Latin-American show in history, after being shown in several countries. It is the most popular sitcom in the history of Mexican television and lasted for 298 episodes and 316 sketches in the Chespirito show in the 1980s (the 1,300 episode count frequently cited is wrong as it includes all the episodes of El Chavo, El Chapulín, Los Caquitos, Los Chifladitos and other series of Chespirito). It has been rerun on several TV stations since the 1970s. El Chavo del Ocho is also highly popular in Brazil, where it has been dubbed into Portuguese with the name of Chaves, broadcast by SBT; and since the beginning of the 1980s it was the biggest audience at many different times according to IBOPE. This popularity could be attributed to the social and cultural similarities between Mexico and Brazil and the ease of translating jokes in Spanish into Portuguese. In the United States, the show is still shown on TeleFutura and Galavisión as of 2012. The show in the United States is consistently the No. 1-rated Spanish-language cable program.

The show was so popular in Latin America and among the Spanish speaking community of the United States that many of the phrases El Chavo and his friends used have become part of the vernacular of countries like Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina. Chespirito has established legal battles with former El Chavo del Ocho actors out of a desire to prevent them from using the show's characters in Mexico without his permission. Villagrán moved to Argentina in order to use his character's name on his shows (Chespirito is not copyrighted in Argentina). María Antonieta de las Nieves, however, won a court battle against Gómez Bolaños for the right to appear in Mexico as la Chilindrina. Nonetheless, in 2012, after years of legal battles with Gómez Bolaños, she announced her retirement, complaining that her victories against Gómez Bolaños all but ended her career, and that nobody would hire her. Currently, the only cast member not to have been threatened with legal action is Édgar Vivar, who also retired his character following gastric bypass surgery.

Denied series finale

During a visit to Peru in 2008, Roberto Gómez Bolaños told the media that he originally planned to make a proper finale to El Chavo del Ocho: in this finale, El Chavo would die trampled by a car, trying to save another kid. However, one of Bolaños' daughters, who is a psychologist, convinced her father to drop the idea, since according to her, it could depress many children and even lead them to commit suicide.[8][9]

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