Rainbow, Pipkins, Bagpuss - proof indeed that 70s kids TV shows were the best EVER!
There was often something a bit psychedelic and groovy about 70s kids TV programmes (we wager there were a few spaced out ex-hippies working in telly back then!) and Rainbow was no exception! For a start, the name of the show itself reeks of patchouli oil and straggly beards, as did the wildly funky title music. Then there was singing trio Rod, Jane and Freddy who were so ludicrously jolly you had to wonder why – and was it just us who were convinced Rod was in fact Roy Wood from Wizard minus the spangly eye make up? But the real stars of the show, of course, were dungaree-clad dynamo Geoffrey Hayes and his posse of furry freak brothers – cackling big-mouth Zippy, loveable dope George, and the annoyingly chirpy Bungle. While we all knew George was the ‘nicest’, us 70s kids couldn’t help envying bossy-boots Zippy’s ability to speak his mind and always get his own way. Funny, it never worked when we tried being like that with our mums and dads!
Looking like a bunch of leftover meatballs, the Flumps were a hugely popular trio composed of Yorkshire siblings Posie, Perkin and Pootle. Also featured were Mother Flump, Father Flump and Grandpa Flump who played an instrument called the ‘flumpet’ and rode a contraption called the ‘flumpcycle’. Watching it now, it’s admittedly not the most exciting of shows, but it was so popular that Blue Peter once showed the masses how to create their own Flump by glueing some wobbly eyes on to a woolly pompom. Wow!!
So that thing we said about 70s kids TV shows being a little surreal? Well Crystal Tips and Alistair was definitely a bit weirdy-beardy! With no speech just jaunty music, the show followed the adventures of a little girl with a triangle of purple curly hair and her hapless mutt Alistair. Using cardboard cut-outs rather than illustrations, characters tended to have a strange jerky walk that suggested they might soon need the toilet.
Set in a puppet making workshop, Pipkins was full of brilliantly bonkers characters including Hartley Hare – who sounded like a pervy old aristocrat and looked like something the cat coughed up, and Pig who us 70s kids remember fondly for sounding like Noddy Holder and sporting a face like regurgitated blancmange. Lest we forget Topov – the monkey who sat on top of the cupboard, Octavia the strutting French ostrich, and Tortoise who was a bit of an old misery guts. Looking back, the puppets all look a bit mangey and creepy, but at the time us 70s kids loved them!
5.Chorlton and the Wheelies
Set in the imaginary land of ‘Wheelie World’, this ace 70s kids show followed the adventures of Chorlton a ‘Happiness Dragon’ with a big dopey smile and an extremely strong Yorkshire accent. Chorlton was basically a bit thick, but with a good heart, so whenever the show’s resident wicked witch – the Welsh accented Fenella (who looked like a demented Bruce Forsythe) – plotted something evil, a clueless Chorlton would end up accidentally thwarting her wicked plans. By heck!
6. The Clangers
Looking like a cross between Peppa Pig and an armadillo with high blood pressure, the Clangers were in fact pink knitted aliens who lived on a small far away planet, communicated using strange whistling sounds and ate blue string soup provided to them by the aptly named soup dragon. Despite being over 40 years old, the Clangers have lost none of their appeal because, well, they’re just so damned adorable!
You only have to look at Fingerbobs presenter, Canadian musician Rick Jones, with his balding long hair and jaunty neckerchief, to know this 70s kids TV show was right up there on the hippie-o-meter! But it was the haunting theme tune with it’s mournful flute that us 70s kids remember most fondly. ‘Yoffy lifts a finger and a mouse appears,’ trilled Jones earnestly. Only the truly childish amongst us giggled when he continued – ‘Yoffy bends another and a tortoise head peeps out!’ *snigger!*
8. Captain Pugwash
Top 70’s kids’ show Captain Pugwash is probably more famous for what didn’t appear in it, than what actually did! Back in the early 1990s, before we were able to Google everything, rumours abounded that Captain Pugwash had actually been chock-full of smutty double entendres that had gone right over the heads of us 70s innocents! It was claimed, besides Pugwash, main characters had included the delightful sounding ‘Master Bates’, ‘Roger the Cabin Boy’ and ‘Seaman Staines’ – which would have been hilarious had it actually been true. But sadly, it was just an urban myth, and one the makers of the programme weren’t too chuffed about – as the Guardian newspaper found out when they got sued for printing this myth as fact in 1991!
For us 70s kids, Bagpuss was utterly magical! Set in Victorian times, the opening titles were filmed in sepia and explained Bagpuss was a cloth cat belonging to a little girl called Emily. Emily owned a shop in which she displayed ‘lost things’ hoping they’d be found again by their owner. In each episode, after Emily left the shop, Bagpuss would come alive and the film would turn from sepia to colour revealing him to be a glorious pink and white (although as many people still had black and white TVs back in the 70s, they wouldn’t have known!). As Bagpuss woke, so would his friends – Madeleine the rag doll, Gabriel the banjo playing frog, Professor Yaffle a woodpecker-shaped bookend, and of course the mice of the Marvellouse Mechanical Mouse Organ. Each week Bagpuss and friends would try to work out what that week’s lost item was for, and if it was broken (as it often was) the mice would set to work, squeaking ‘We will fix it, we will fix it!’ in their high pitched voices. And of course they always would. At the end of each episode Bagpuss would yawn and go back to sleep, as would all his other friends. And us 70s kids would feel a warm little glow ‘cos Bagpuss rocked!
What was your favourite kids TV show from the 70s?