Rainbow (CITV, 1972-1991)
Rainbow is of course one of the all-time classic CITV shows that made learning fun so you don’t need much explanation of what it was all about from me, but I still want to share my memories, as I was a big fan of the show along with many other people.
I began to watch the show in the late-80s and of course it featured the great yellow thing Zippy, pink hippo type-thing George and the rather dithery bear Bungle alongside Geoffrey, and once again he was one of those people in children’s TV who lives with and talks to these really odd characters as if it’s perfectly normal. As if that wasn’t enough, the musical trio Rod, Jane and Freddy who rather conveniently had a song for every occasion also joined in with lots of music and eventually got their own spin-off CITV show.
Along the way there were lots of stories told, a lot of things to learn, and the show also featured some animation. Rainbow was shown very regularly on CITV for almost 20 years and there were over 1,000 episodes, also winning some awards and not ending until Thames lost their licence in 1991, although it did continue for a while in repeats. A lot of people were sorry to see the old characters go, and there was an inevitable “bring it back” campaign. Eventually there were two revivals in the mid-90s, but they weren’t that great and aren’t as fondly thought of, and the show finally ended in 1997.
As well as the TV show, one of things that I enjoyed about Rainbow when I was younger was the comic. It came out weekly around the late-80s and featured cartoon strips with the further adventures of Zippy and co. I also remember some great free gifts including some badges featuring all the characters, but because I’m daft I didn’t keep any of those. Also around this time there were some episodes released on VHS.
Around 2002 there seemed to be a revival of interest in the show which coincided with the 30th anniversary. This included some DVD releases featuring classic episodes, one of which was the very first episode from 1972. Like just about everyone else I find the original Bungle really terrifying, and there’s no Geoffrey either, and once again it is just really odd seeing a very popular show before it becomes properly defined.
There was also a book released and the characters appeared in a few adverts too, but best of all there was a dance remix of the famous theme that was a top 20 hit single, which was great. A vintage episode was also shown as part of 2013’s CITV Old Skool Weekend which was very well received. Rainbow did brighten up many an afternoon and it definitely deserves to be remembered as one of the best CITV shows of its era.