Rod, Jane And Freddy (CITV, 1981-1991)
Like lots of other people, one of my favourite children’s TV shows that I always enjoyed watching when I was younger was Rainbow. When it launched in the early-70s, musical accompaniment was provided by the group Telltale. By the mid-70s they had been replaced by the trio of Rod, Jane and Matthew (Matthew being Matthew Corbett, who would go on to further fame in the 80s and 90s on CITV’s The Sooty Show and Sooty and Co.)
After he left, he was replaced by Roger (who went on to star in flop BBC1 soap Eldorado, but the less said about that, the better). He then left in the early-80s to be replaced by Freddy, and this became their most famous lineup. Their style of enthusiastically performing songs along with some fun dance routines became popular enough with viewers for them to get their own spin-off series that launched in 1981.
Every edition was around 15 minutes long and usually shown in CITV’s “for younger viewers” strand. Most of the editions of Rod, Jane And Freddy were performed as if they were on a big theatre stage (with minimal set design), and they were often greeted by lots of applause (even if nobody actually seemed to be in the audience). The Hackney Empire itself couldn’t have put on a better show.
The shows would give them the opportunity to perform some of their songs and sketches with various props, plus plenty of costume changes, and every edition had a theme, such as being based around animals or stories. I didn’t exactly dance around to these shows myself, but I do remember being very entertained by them. By the late-80s, Rod, Jane and Freddy left Rainbow to concentrate on this show, and they also toured the country. They have also made lots of albums.
By 1991, the show had been running for a decade, and after 120 editions, it came to an end, around the same time that Rainbow also ended, and production company Thames lost its franchise. A few editions were also released on VHS. After this, they haven’t been seen that much on TV since, although it seems that they have continued to work in the music business, and have also contributed to a few shows about classic children’s TV moments.
Now Peter Kay and the like might consider them to be their showbiz pals “ironically”, but I’m sure that there must be plenty of people out there along with myself who really did enjoy their work. And in more recent years there was the revelation that Jane has been married to both Rod and Freddy (but not at the same time!), making the shows looking back at them now feature the extra layer of a rather unlikely love triangle.