Rainbow star delighted at poll success

WHEN cult children's show Rainbow first graced our screens in 1972, it captured the heart of the nation.Troublesome Zippy, Bungle the cuddly bear, and shy pink hippo George were an instant hit with millions of young viewers, all keen to track the adventures of the unlikely trio.

WHEN cult children's show Rainbow first graced our screens in 1972, it captured the heart of the nation.

Troublesome Zippy, Bungle the cuddly bear, and shy pink hippo George were an instant hit with millions of young viewers, all keen to track the adventures of the unlikely trio.

But it would seem the loveable puppets, complete with peacemaker Geoffrey and dungaree-wearing folk band Rod, Jane and Freddy, are just as popular today as they were three decades ago after being voted the best ever children's television programme.

The result of a poll of top 20 shows, commissioned by the BBC to launch its new CBeebies Weekly magazine, came as a surprise to the man behind one of the Rainbow's most popular characters.

Speaking from his home in Woolpit, Stanley Bates, who not only played Bungle but helped write the script to the offbeat programme, said he was thrilled it had topped the charts.

“I always thought it was a good, fun, educational programme, but it was all such a long time ago and it is amazing people still regard it as the best,” he said.

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“We all had such a good time making the show, and it is lovely viewers still remember it.”

The Magic Roundabout came second in the poll, closely followed by Mr Benn and Playschool in joint third.

Other classics included Roobarb and Custard, The Wombles, Bagpuss, The Clangers, and Button Moon.

Rainbow, which ran on ITV for 20 years, revolved around a colourful house shared by the main characters. The episodes normally involved a squabble or dispute between Zippy, Bungle and George, resulting in futile attempts by Geoffrey to calm them down and keep the peace, and would feature songs, animations and stories read from the Rainbow storybook.

Over the years, screen favourites such as Judi Dench, Una Stubbs and Molly Sugden all made appearences on the show.

“It was good at appealing to the audience it was aimed at, but the show also had huge cult following, usually among university students,” said Mr Bates.

“The show is currently being repeated on Sky television, and I am pleased that it is the original programme and not a recreated version.

“Personally I would have put the Magic Roundabout at the top of the poll, but I am very pleased that Rainbow is number one.”

Clinical psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, of BBC shows Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways, said: “Children are now raised on a staple of Teletubbies, Tweenies and Bob the Builder, but the survey shows that the nation still has fond memories of these older programmes.”

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