UK / ITV – Thames – HTV – Tetra / 1000+x15 minute episodes / Broadcast Monday October 16th 1972-1992 and 1993-1996
Creator: Pamela Lonsdale (who also produced almost all the shows), other producers included Ruth Boswell, Vic Hughes, Charles Warren, Lesley Burgess and Shelia Kinany/ Opening titles: Cosgrove Hall / Theme Music: Telltale / Young Education Advisor: Jill Kent
Preschool education and entertainment show. When the ITV Network decided to open up their afternoon schedule (at that time, the early seventies, ITV closed down for the afternoon after children’s school programmes finished at noon but new government regulations gave them more air time) for our viewing pleasure one of the children’s shows that kicked things off was Rainbow.
Initially John Kane and Tim Wylton presented a pilot edition that never aired but the series proper was first hosted by David Cook and most of the familiar elements were in place, Bungle the Bear (played by John “K-9” Leeson) and the mischievous puppet Zippy.
Interestingly the titles and some interstitial animation (Curly and Straight was adventures of a pair of lines, simple but effective) was provided by the legendary Mark Hall and Brian Cosgrove, they would also go on to create three stop frame animation series to appear within Rainbow, these were Sally and Jake, Grandma Bricks of Swallow Street and Rosie and Jim of Cockleshell Bell.
By the shows second season (which started Monday 16th April 1973) Bungle had been given a make over and Zippy’s friend George arrived( 26 April Episode), Roy Skelton (who also provided voices for the Daleks in Dr Who) now voiced the puppets, season three (which started 22nd October 1973) introduced a new host who would remain with the show until the end, Geoffrey Hayes and Bungle had a new actor playing him in the shape of Stanley Bates.
A musical trio was now also introduced (made up of Julian Littman, Karl Johnson and Charmian Dore later on the trio would be replaced by the legendary Rod, Jane and Freddy who stayed with the show until the end, initally Rod Burton and Jane Tucker were aided by a young Matthew Corbett).
Around this time each episode would also feature a story read by a well known actor (including the likes of Judi Dench, Rosemary Leach, Gwen Watford, Beryl Reid, Roy Kinnear, Una Stubbs, Mollie Sugden, Julian Glover and many more).
When Thames lost their franchise in 1992 the show came to a close but it did return in 1993 briefly (without Geoffrey and with a new puppet rabbit called Cleo) in an afternoon slot. Then from 1996-97 the series returned as Rainbow Days and was hosted by Dale Superville.