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July 2010

Rainbow - Naughty Zippy

cast: Geoffrey Hayes, Malcolm Lord, Ray Skelton, and Dawn Boden

directors: Pat Sharpe, Rosalind Farrimond

75 minutes (U) 1972-92
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
review by James A. Stewart



Episodes on this DVD:
Naughty Zippy
I'm The King Of The Castle
Snow
Treasure Hunt
The Zippybread Man

Rainbow - Naughty Zippy

Almost every adult in the UK between the ages of 20 and 50 would have spent some of their childhood years watching Rainbow. Much like the recently reviewed Sooty, Rainbow was a bastion of after-school watching throughout the 1970s and 1980s, before the advent of satellite TV and the importation of CGI-fuelled American and Canadian offerings.

It is hard to believe that Rainbow ran for almost 30 years, but it did, and no matter what the psychologists think about some of the underlying tones and behaviours of Geoffrey, Bungle, Zippy and George (as well as their part-time support cast of Rod, Jane and Freddy), there had to be something good about the format and series for it to last so long. Perhaps it was because it was cheap? Well, the production values on Naughty Zippy remind us of an era where make-up, looks, and form are not the priority.

This DVD release celebrates the mischievous traits of the brown fly-mouthed puppet which was Zippy, arguably the most recognisable of the Rainbow crew. Across five episodes we get to see Zippy at his worst as he is selfish, unhelpful, dominating and greedy. In fact, he acts like a wee boy throughout, which I guess is the point.

The episodes are all pulled from the twilight of the series' life and in them Geoffrey looks old but retains some of the charm that made him and his cohort heroes to generations of children. The puppetry is, now looking at it as an adult, sometimes clumsy. It is clear the best days are behind the show and the cast. But, nonetheless, being a sucker for nostalgia makes this an endearing release and with a budget price there will no doubt be some modest sales from adults who want to get revenge for having to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and the like.

Interestingly, this held my toddler's attention for longer than Sooty and it appeared Zippy was the main reason. The madcap antics of the gravely-voiced puppet certainly still hold some charm for the children out there. It is worth remembering that Zippy's popularity has found it making primetime TV as a star of Ashes To Ashes.

These types of releases are less of a renaissance and more a reflection on the cheapness of transferring video to DVD, and the subsequent cost to produce and market a product in 2010. There won't be a Rainbow revolution but Naughty Zippy will bring a smile to a few more faces, new and old, with this issue. Not as many smiles as the most famous Rainbow clip of all, of course.



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