Saturday, May 01, 2010

The illustrated Hello: Zippy, Bungle

Possibly the low spot of the list, in terms of the obviousness of the call-outs on The Beloved's Hello (and we're nearly at the end now, thank God), is Rainbow's puppet and man-in-a-bear-suit duo. Namechecking Zippy was, at the time, little more than a lazy way of shoring up the bookings in student unions.

Let's just get it out the way now: They knew what they were saying, it was for the Christmas tape.

Apart from the Twanger one. I really did see Bungle make a twanger, and my brother and I made twangers after the programme, but could never get the tension in the rubber bands right.

From the very first Rainbow - the pre-George era, then - here's Zippy and Bungle doing a song:

The musical heart of Rainbow didn't really sit with the carpeted twosome, though. It was Rod, Jane and Freddy - once Rod and Jane had dumped Sooty-heir Matthew Corbett from the line-up. They were so good - and I'm using good in the sense of "cheap, and known to the Thames Television production unit, and lacking a sense of embarrassment" - they got a spin-off series of their own:

Rod and Jane had been married, until Jane ran off with Freddy. Apparently. Which makes it even more remarkable that the trio are still going, albeit without the television gig.

Just in passing, it's worth remembering the other Rainbow spin-off, Take A Chance. A de-Bungle suited Stanley Bates was running a hotel (or, more believably, a retirement home) for entertainers, with his main (or, more honestly, only guest) being Dawson Chance.

I could never work out if we were supposed to think that Bates was still Bungle, only not wearing the suit - which would mean that we were supposed to watch Rainbow knowing that Bungle wasn't really a bear, but a man in a suit. That can't be right.

But if we were supposed to suspend our disbelief and watch Rainbow believing Bungle was a real bear, then how would Take A Chance be a spin-off from Rainbow? Because it had one of the same actors, but doing a different character? In which case, Dad's Army must be a spin-off of Coronation Street. Or Star Wars a spin-off of Grange Hill, right?

Still, the Ormskirk Advertiser wasn't going to let this format confusion spoil its excitement at a Parbold entertainer getting his big break on TV:

The former Butlins redcoat told the Advertiser at the time: “It is a situation comedy show and I play myself, an aspiring ventriloquist and working the puppets."

It lasted for about a dozen episodes.

[Part of the Illustrated Hello]