Zippy & George’s Puppet Legends, Channel 4

by | Sep 17, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Rainbow’s dynamic duo – Zippy and George – present a delightful 50 minutes devoted to their fellow puppet legends over the years.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Another gratuitous and pathetically childish nostalgia fest.

What was good about it?

• George and Zippy were very funny and showed what a great double act they are. They also did the links a lot better than human presenters. Take note Jimmy Carr, Graham Norton and Iain Lee.

• Zippy and George’s comments. On Orville the duck, George said: “He liked to play on people’s emotions, didn’t he?” Zippy replied: “Yes, George and if you can fake self pity, you’re halfway there!” and “This duck’s career reached a height no other green plastic duck had reached”.

Zippy later reminisced about the good old days “before Jamie Oliver was invented and we fed our kids properly. Do you remember rickets, George?”

• The “interview” with the cast of Sooty. They asked Sweep about the ridiculous tabloid hysteria surrounding Soo’s addition to the cast – some people thought having a female character was introducing sex to children – and Sweep squeaked something the others found funny. It was also nice to hear Brenda Longman voicing Soo again.

• The section on Spitting Image’s caricature of Margaret Thatcher who, like the real thing, became even more of a monster as time went on. The best part was the interview with Steve Nallon who did such an excellent job of voicing her. It was shocking to hear her voice coming out of his rather mousey, bespectacled body.

• Lord Hattersley saying that if Spitting Image had decided not to parody him, he would have considered it “a terrible criticism on his prominence”.

• The trivia item that Kermit the frog was made out of an old coat Jim Henson’s mother had thrown out.

• Geoffrey Hayes from Rainbow claiming he is now the benign dictator of a small West African country.

• The clip of the small dog trying to mount Gordon The Gopher.

• The Thunderbirds clips featuring explosions and Lady Penelope. Thunderbird 2 was named the best of the bunch here, but we always preferred Thunderbird 3. Anyway, the good news is that after the success of the recent CGI animated revival of Captain Scarlet, Gerry Anderson is planning on bringing back Thunderbirds in a similar way.

• The dismissal of the terrible Roger De Courcey and Nookie Bear.

• The talking heads contributions were largely very good. The best were by Chris Barrie and Roger Law talking about working on the Spitting Image (Law said Thatcherism was one of the main reasons he did the show in the first place). Even Trevor and Simon, Going Live’s comedy writing duo, made some good comments. There was even one from Bungle the Bear from Rainbow.

• The clip of George and Zippy’s 2002 dance record It’s A Rainbow. While we hated all the other novelty puppet hits played in this programme, we quite liked this one, especially the Top Of The Pops performance complete with sexy dancers and George dancing with a tiara and feather boa.

• The very funny animated opening title sequence, featuring Noah on his ark listing his favourite dinners (giraffe burgers etc), an Egyptian pharaoh selecting his favourite ice cream flavours, William Shakespeare listing his cock fighting favourites, Albert Einstein noting his best cloud shapes and Margaret Thatcher selecting her favourite wrestlers.

• They played Sandie Shaw’s Puppet On A String at the end.

What was bad about it?

• The appalling Emu got as high as number two even though it’s a one-joke collection of scrap material. We also saw the clip of him attacking Parkinson in 1976… yet again, praised as “the stuff of TV legend” and “one of the most pant-wettingly funny moments on a telly screen”. It wasn’t. It was stupid and predictable.

• Awful Orville the duck. They also played Orville’s Song. Torture. Worse was Mike Read calling it a “timeless classic” and “flock and roll”.

• The irritating Pinky & Perky, accompanied by the quite depressing claim that they packed the London Palladium and played in Vegas alongside Elvis and Sammy Davis Junior. We even prefer Crazy Frog to this pair.

• The “battle” for the position of “motormouth legend” between Basil Brush and Roland Rat, mainly because the extremely annoying Roland Rat won it. Zippy, however, admitted that Roland had swung it by putting 20,000 euros into their Swiss bank account.

• The pretension of Matthew Corbett. “1948 was a very interesting year. I think it was the year when the National Health Service started; it was also the year I was born and the year Sooty was born”.

• While we’re glad it wasn’t one of those lists shows which drag on for about three years, it all seemed very rushed. Very little time seemed to be spent on each subject. They could have said a lot more about Sooty.

• Yet another airing of the vastly overrated Thatcher “what about the vegetables?” clip from Spitting Image.

• The Muppets (or rather, Kermit the frog) won. While we have are no real complaints about that, it was just as predictable as The Simpsons winning every one of these type of “best animated” lists. We’d also argue that although Kermit is the most iconic Muppet, he was just the straight man who held the show together while the other characters made us laugh.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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