1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 6 (UK)
156 x 15 minute episodes
Rupert Bear lived amongst the lush greenery of Nutwood Forest with his parents, Mr Bear – a pipe-smoking traditionalist in a three-piece suit – and Mrs Bear – a homely type in an apron, forever baking, cleaning and polishing.
Rupert perpetually dressed in a pillar-box red jumper and bright yellow checked trousers (with matching scarf) and personified all that was innocent and exciting about childhood.
His adventures took him to faraway kingdoms where princesses and sea serpents lived amongst Chinese conjurers and evil elves. Rupert took it all in his stride and somehow always made it home just in time for tea.
Rupert first appeared in the pages of the Daily Express on 8 November 1920, created by Mary Tourtel (wife of one of the newspaper’s editors).
The little bear did wonders for the newspaper and was soon a household name in Britain – thanks in no small part to the Rupert annuals, a common stocking-filler each Christmas for kids in the UK.
This string puppet series was commissioned by ITV for their early afternoon children’s slot but was later permanently moved to lunchtime, with the stories read by Judy Bennett.
Only 13 episodes were made initially, but the series was a runaway success for the channel and it eventually ran for six years over 156 individual adventures.
Other characters appearing regularly in The Adventures of Rupert Bear included Bill Badger, Podgy Pig, Pong Ping the Pekinese, Edward Trunk the elephant boy, Willy Wisp, Mr Grimnasty and fox twins Freddie and Ferdie.
The scariest of all the characters was undoubtedly the forest troll, Raggety the Twig Boy.
The wonderful, bouncy theme song, sung by Jackie Lee, reached #14 in January 1971 and stayed in the British charts for nearly four months. Lee had already enjoyed a hit in 1968 with the theme to another children’s TV programme, White Horses.
A 1998 BBC series simply entitled Rupert (narrated by Ray Brooks) was visually just a camera panning over the original comic illustrations, while the Canadian-produced The All New Adventures of Rupert (1991-1997) gave Rupert an American accent!