Hit 1970s show Rainbow had rampant booze and S&M culture, says Zippy operator

Out-of-control sexism was rife behind the scenes of the kids show, claims puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew.

In Zippy And Me, he reveals the cast, led by Geoffrey Hayes, loved “getting lashed” and arranging George, Bungle and Zippy into graphic sex positions.

One incident saw an archbishop witness “Zippy mounted upon George, going at it hammer and tongs” while visiting the Thames Television studios.

He recalls star Jane Tucker wearing a “leather S&M outfit” under her coat to reveal on set in rehearsal, earning her the nickname “Miss Whiplash”.

She jokingly used to encourage Zippy to “play with my maracas”, and Zippy and George would be made to “pluck each other’s twangers”, he said.

Le Drew adds: “The cast would regularly alter the positions of the zoo and farm animals so they were in sexual positions.

“Our exasperated directors could often be heard shouting: ‘Make them stop!’”

And at its peak, when the show was watched by millions, they met the Queen and Prince Philip at a children’s party in Hyde Park in 1979.

Le Drew said there was a kids’ art competition where the winner had drawn a portrait of the Queen “painted with an almost entirely black face”.

Her Majesty smiled politely and congratulated the little boy but the Duke of Edinburgh apparently burst out laughing.

Le Drew claimed he said to his wife: “Oh dear, I think you’re going to have to change your make-up.”

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