1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 2 (France/UK)
13 x 14 minute episodes
“Barnaby the bear’s my name
Never call me Jack or James
I will sing my way to fame
Barnaby the bear’s my name”
The thing is, “Barnaby” wasn’t actually the little bear’s name. He was originally called “Colargol” when he was ‘born’ in his native France. And Canadian viewers knew him as “Jeremy”.
Colargol first existed in book form in France during the 1960s. The books proved so popular that an animation company approached author Olga Pouchine about a television series.
By 1970 the first 14-minute episode (of 52) had debuted on French television and the series became a massive hit. The London-based animation company Q3 quickly bought the rights to the first 13 episodes and translated them into English for broadcast on the BBC.
After changing the character’s name from Colargol to Barnaby, actor Colin Jeavons, who had previously voiced Q3’s Joe in 1966, was drafted in to provide his dulcet tones.
In the British adaptation, Barnaby was a talented singer who signed up with Monsieur Pimoulou’s circus in a bid for fame and soon became his star attraction.
Unfortunately, Pimoulou was a sneaky old rascal (with more than a passing resemblance to Dick Dastardly) who ran the kind of 1970s circus where animals were whipped and made to jump through fiery hoops.
Thankfully Barnaby eventually realised there was more to show business than being locked up in a cage every night and escaped to the North Pole.