Zippy's Big Red TwangerAs a student, I have an awful lot of free time. Which I like to spend watching Button Moon DVDs, reading my Alias The Jester annuals and otherwise reliving my innocent childhood. And it was an innocent childhood. But there are nasty people out there trying to convince me that it was't.
Not content with perpetuating the Seaman Staines/Master Bates/Roger the Cabin Boy myth that has tainted Captain Pugwash for years, people are now claiming that perennial children's favourite Rainbow was corrupting the minds of its impressionable young audience. For years now, a clip claiming to be from an actual episode of Rainbow has been doing the rounds on the internet. This clip features Geoffrey, Bungle, George and Zippy discussing their twangers (Zippy has a big red one), and inviting viewers to play with their balls. Recently, for whatever reason, this has become widely noticed. Mailing lists and message boards all over the internet are now filling up with posts like the following:
Taken from actual Rainbow Scripts!!!! I can't believe they got away with this!!
Zippy is peeling a banana...
Zippy: One skin, two skin, three skin, four
George: Zippy, where is Bungle?
Zippy: I think Geoffrey is trying to get him up
We see a view of the door and hear Bungle moaning from behind it.
Bungle: Geoffrey, I can't get it in
Geoffrey: You managed it last night
Bungle: I know, lets try it round the Other way. Ooooooh, I've got it in
Bungle and Geoffrey enter the studio with Bungle carrying a hammer and peg kit
Bungle: Would you stick this on the shelf, George
George: I can't reach, you'll have to stick it up yourself, Bungle.
Geoffrey (to camera): Hello everyone, today we are talking about playing
Bungle: Playing with each other, Geoffrey?
Geoffrey: Yes Bungle, do you have a special friend that you like to play with?
George: Yesterday we played with each other's balls. Are we going to play with our friend's balls today?
Bungle: Yes, and we can play with our twangers as well.
Geoffrey (to camera): Have you seen Bungles twanger?
Zippy: Oh I have, I showed him how to pluck with it.
Bungle: It's my plucking instrument.
Geoffrey (to audience): Can you pluck like Bungle?
Zippy: I can, I'm the best plucker here.
George: And I'm good at banging. My peg's hard isn't it Zippy?
Zippy: Well of course it is, your peg wouldn't go in if it was soft.
Geoffrey: Let's get back to Bungle's twanger.
Bungle (excited): Oooooh Geoffrey, we could all play with our twangers couldn't we? Let's play the plucking song. Rod and Roger can get their instruments out and Jane has got two lovely Maracas.
Singers Rod, Freddy and Jane enter.
Freddy: We could hear you all banging away
Rod: Banging can be fun.
Jane: Ooooh yes, and I was banging away all last night with Rod and Freddy.
Freddy (looking sad): Yes, but it broke my plucking instrument.
Rod (to Jane): Do you want to blow on my pipe while I'm twanging away?
Jane: Oh no, I was banging away with Freddy last night. But would you Like to play with my maracas?
Zippy: No, let's just pluck away with our twangers.
George: Yes, it doesn't matter what size our twanger is.
Zippy: I've got a big red one.
George: I've only got a tiny twanger. But it works well and I like to play with it.
Geoffrey (to viewers): Well, have you got your twangers out? And remember, you can bang your balls at the same time. If you haven't got any, ask a friend if you can play with his. Now, let's all play the plucking song.
Everyone in studio: Pluck, pluck, pluck along, we're going to pluck all day.
First things first. Anyone who's ever seen a TV script will tell you that this blatantly isn't one. This has been transcribed by a fifteen-year-old who probably never even saw Rainbow before that sacrilegious CITV remake in the mid-90s. And why do Rod, Jane and Freddy enter, when Bungle states quite clearly that Rod and Jane's companion is called Roger? Well, that's because said fifteen-year-old has heard his older brother and sister discussing Rod, Jane and Freddy and, in an attempt to make his 'script' more believable, used the character people are most familiar with.
Which would be all well and good, except for two small matters: 1) if the fifteen-year-old hasn't heard of Roger, why is there a reference to him in the script? and, more importantly, 2) why is there a clip doing the rounds on the internet featuring Geoffrey, Bungle, George and Zippy discussing their twangers and inviting viewers to play with their balls?
Well, the clip was very probably taken from Victor Lewis Smith's TV Offal, which explains the confusion. Lewis Smith claimed it was from the show's pilot. It was, in fact, recorded in 1976, when the show had been running for several years. It was never shown on TV, and was never intended to be shown on TV. In fact, the sketch was performed simply for the amusement of the cast and crew, and would have been lost to history, were it not for the OBA 1 Christmas tape put together by Thames TV engineers. The same video features a Star Trek parody, outtakes from The Kenny Everett Show and Spike Milligan saying, "Merry Christmas, even if you're Jewish."
Right, that's enough myth exploding for one day. I'm off to watch an episode of Doctor Who with the word "knob" in it.