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Series / Rainbow

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Up above the streets and houses, rainbow's climbing high; everyone can see it smiling over the sky. Paint the whole world with a rainbow!
The Theme Tune

Long-running UK kids' show, originally intended to be the British equivalent of Sesame Street, which, for the bulk of its long-running time, centred around puppets Zippy (a creature with a zipper for a mouth) and George (a camp hippopotamus), as well as a bear named Bungle and their avuncular human caretaker Geoffrey living in the Rainbow House. It started airing in 1972, and ended in 1992, followed by two spin-offs.

Many non-European viewers know the show for its infamous "twangers" segment which consisted of progressively less veiled double entendres about the sexual escapades of the cast. The episode never actually aired as part of the show and was put together at a production party as a private joke, but has since migrated its way to YouTube and other such online video sites. Zippy and George also appeared on The Weakest Link.

Rainbow provides examples of:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: This happens to Bungle in the episode "Bungle's High and Mighty Day". Bungle receives an invitation to Sooty's birthday party while Zippy and George don't, and this gets to his head. He suddenly decides that he is too 'grown-up' for sharing a room with Zippy and George, card games, sharing a bath, and even breakfast. What snaps him out of it is when he realises his haughty behaviour would result in him missing out on a bedtime story.
    • Zippy, George and Geoffrey get an invitation later on that day.
  • Aesop Amnesia: A repeated plotline throughout the series was Zippy pushing George and Bungle too far with his selfish antics, before seeing the error of his ways and making amends.
  • Ageless Birthday Episode: Zippy celebrates his birthday in the episode "Zippy's Birthday", but his age is never stated.
  • Ambiguously Gay: George is pink and effeminate, and can get 'touchy-feely' with the other characters.
  • Anti-Role Model: Zippy is sometimes portrayed as this
  • Beary Friendly: Bungle, while not the brightest crayon in the box, is a pretty nice character. There are occasions when an episode has him pick up the Jerkass Ball, but even then he learns from his mistakes much better than Zippy does.
  • Big Eater: Zippy. Very much so.
  • Breakout Character: Zippy eclipsed the original main puppets, Sunshine and Moony, who were ultimately phased out. The first revival omitted a human host of any kind, thus making him, George and Bungle the main stars.
    • George has had that effect lately, with viewers cheering him on when he confronts Zippy instead of the usual reverse that occurs in most series.
  • The Cameo: The characters have made brief appearances in shows like Ashes to Ashes (2008) and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.
  • Canon Foreigner: Cleo the rabbit in one spin-off, Dale in the later 'Rainbow Days'. Fans tend to disregard their existence.
  • Cartoon Creature: Zippy. Word of God calls him 'a unique'.
  • Celebration Miscalculation: In the episode "Wrong Day". After overhearing Geoffrey telling a friend over the phone that his birthday is "on the second", Zippy, Bungle and George assume this to mean it's on the second day of the month. They decide throw him a surprise party, when he tells them that his birthday is actually on the second week of the month, not the second day.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: When the show premiered in 1972, the original "stars" of the show were two puppets named Sunshine and Moony, who would often have little conversations relating to the episode. Eventually, though, they were overshadowed in popularity by Zippy and disappeared without a trace in 1973.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the episode Misbehaving, Zippy, Bungle and George won't stop arguing with each other, and Geoffrey becomes fed up of this. He tries to pull them back into line by having his grumpy Uncle Bill come to visit them. It turns out that 'Uncle Bill' is actually Geoffrey in a suit, and he's eventually found out.
    • Every once in a while when Zippy gets too noisy and demanding, they zip his mouth up. He only unzipped it once, as he always submits to this punishment.
  • Crossover: Sooty appeared a couple of times.
  • Diet Episode: As a long-running edutainment show for children, Rainbow has had several episodes about exercise and healthy eating. One notable example of such episode is Exercise Is Fun, in which Bungle takes his diet up to eleven by constantly running around the garden, wanting to live off peas, and attempting to lift weights that are obviously too heavy for him.
  • Dream Sequence: Too many times to count.
  • Edutainment Show
  • Everyone Has Standards: Played for Laughs in an early 2000s commercial for Marmite. Zippy demands breakfast, and when it comes out with Marmite on it, he zips his own mouth shut.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows
  • Forgiveness: This series is unique even among children's programs for its pervasive theme of the importance of genuine unconditional regret followed by genuine unconditional forgiveness (though the Time Stasis of the characters' single-digit ages means that they are forever at the maturity level of a small child). It helps that the voice actors are unusually talented at conveying a believable level of regret and repentance for each episode's misbehavior.
  • Freudian Trio: Proudly naughty Zippy is the Id, proudly conformist Bungle is the Superego, compromise-loving George is the Ego.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Zippy will usually apologize for his bad behavior, but more often than not, only does so to stop being punished or to get his own way.
    • In the episode "Zippy Sets Them Up", he offers to help Bungle, Geoffrey and George with their chores. The other characters are stunned by this, with Bungle thinking he had changed for good. But as you can guess by the Spoiler Title, he hadn't. Turns out there was a competition in the local newspaper looking for "the most helpful person in town", with the prize being a picnic hamper filled with food. Given Zippy is a Big Eater, he didn't tell the others about the competition so he could win the prize himself. He had no intention of actually helping them at all.
  • Kicked Upstairs: In the first Rainbow spin-off, Zippy, Bungle and George (who were originally treated as children) are left to run a shop alone with no human caretaker of any kind.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Zippy
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The first Rainbow revival took a completely different premise, centred entirely around the puppet characters running a shop. The second Rainbow Days was closer to the original format, though still included a different set, presenter and theme tune.
  • Long-Runners: Over 1000 episodes between 1972 and 1992. Which would be long even by Japanese standards, but by British standards, it's an eternity!
  • Muppet
  • Nice Mean And In Between: George is very prominently nice; Zippy is frequently naughty, arrogant, selfish and greedy; and Bungle is usually nice, but can on occasion be smug, thoughtless and immature.
  • Not So Above It All: On rarer occasions, George or even Geoffrey would be the ones to screw up (if usually more through accidental circumstances than Zippy). One episode revolves around all four characters upsetting each other, as An Aesop that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Odd Couple: Zippy and George differ between this and Like Brother and Sister.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Inverted somewhat. George is male yet has pink fur (which is actually appropriate). In the first spinoff, Cleo, the female rabbit, had blue fur.
  • Pride: Zippy has this in spades.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Paint. The. Whole. World. With. A. Rainboooooooow!"
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: Fitting, considering the show was made as a Transatlantic Equivalent of the show.
  • Short-Runners: The two revivals, in complete contrast to the original series, were very short lived. Rainbow Days lasted for only twelve episodes.
  • Spinoff: A series set in a toy shop, and Rainbow Days. Also, The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show which was an extended version of Rod, Jane and Freddy's musical skits in Rainbow.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Undergone this treatment, with the 'twangers' clip and Zippy and George's appearance in Ashes to Ashes (2008).
  • Team Dad: Geoffrey.
    • In the first revival, Bungle is this to an extent in the absence of any human presenters.
  • Theme Tune Extended: A full variation of the original theme was recorded, which actually converts into a rather slow, psychedelic tune.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Zippy's cousin Zippo. They look more like twin brothers than cousins.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: A subplot in the episode Auntie Pays a Visit. Geoffrey's aunt (played by Patsy Rowlands) gives the three puppets a present each, none of which are well-received. She gives Bungle a pink tricycle, George a woolly hat that's too small for him, and Zippy a baby doll. Bungle and George make little effort to hide their disappointment. Zippy makes none.
  • Vague Age: Neither Zippy, Bungle nor George have confirmed ages. Bungle is much bigger than Zippy and George but often acts as if he is the same age as them.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: Variation; a song is sung about how much of a 'bossy boots' Zippy is.
  • Vocal Evolution: Though Bungle went through multiple actors, they seemed to follow the consistent direction of making him squeakier and more childish sounding.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Plenty of these, even one imagining a backstory for Little Tommy Tucker.


Video Example(s):


Bungle's High and Mighty Day

Bungle receives an invitation to party while nobody else in the Rainbow House does, suddenly making him feel too important and grown-up to share a bed with Zippy and George.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AcquiredSituationalNarcissism

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