1 9 7 2 – 1 9 9 2 (UK)
Approx 1000 x 20 minute episodes
Up above the streets and houses,
Rainbow climbing high
Everyone can see it smiling,
Over the sky . . .
Paint the whole world with a Rainbow.
Ostensibly ITV’s answer to Play School, Rainbow originally featured David Cook and then – from 1973 – Geoffrey Hayes (ex Z-Cars) hosting a group of strange puppets designed to develop language and number concepts at a level to help children prepare for school.
Bungle was a huge bear with John Leeson inside (who also provided the voice for K-9 in Doctor Who ), George was a pink hippopotamus and Zippy was a wide-eyed, oval headed puppet with a zip for a mouth.
They were accompanied by a bunch of hippies singing the theme song – originally singing trio Charmian, Karl and Julian, but more famously Rod (Burton), his wife Jane (Tucker) – a blonde-haired psychopath – and Matthew (Corbett), of Sooty fame. Matthew was eventually replaced by Freddy (Marks), he of the amazing “living eyebrows”.
Judi Dench was an occasional storyteller in the first year, and later Stephanie Beacham joined the show in the same role.
Themed programmes featured animations, tales from the Rainbow storybook, songs or documentary films on children’s lives. Special programmes showcased extended documentaries on topics like going to hospital or starting school.
Original regulars before Zippy and George were Moony (a sad looking mauve puppet) and Sunshine (a lively and more aggressive yellow one).
The original Rainbow died with the non-renewal of Thames’ franchise in 1992 but the show later returned minus Geoffrey and with a new female puppet called Cleo (a blue dog). The story now centred on Zippy, George and Bungle’s attempts to run a toy store for Mr Top (who owned the shop).
A subsequent revival in 1996 – 1997 saw the programme retitled Rainbow Days and a new presenter, Dale Superville. A comic published every four weeks by Marvel Comics, also entitled Rainbow Days, ran for a handful of issues in early 1997.
Geoffrey Hayes died of pneumonia in hospital on 30 September 2018. He was 76.
David Cook (1)
Geoffrey Hayes (2)
John Leeson (1)
Stanley Bates (2)
Malcolm Lord (3)
Richard Robinson (4)
Paul Cullinan (5)
Peter Hawkins (1)
Roy Skelton (2)
Ronnie Le Drew (3)