Thursday 1 August 2019

BLOG TOUR: Zippy and Me - Ronnie Le Drew, Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi

Over the course of almost half a century, puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew has worked with the greats - from David Bowie in Labyrinth to Michael Caine in A Muppet Christmas Carol. But the role that defined his career was Rainbow's Zippy, who he operated for more than twenty years. 

Zippy and Me is the first time a Rainbow insider has told the true story of what went on under the counter and inside the suits: the petty squabbles between performers, wrangling with TV executives, and scandals such as the 'love triangle' between musicians Rod, Jane and Freddy. Not to mention the now infamous X-rated episode shot for an ITV Christmas party, which subsequently found its way to the Sun. 

Interweaved with the dirt on what really went on behind the scenes is the story of Rainbow's heyday in the 1970s and 80s, when its stars found themselves catapulted into an exciting showbiz world - scooping a BAFTA award and even performing for the queen - and the story of a young lad from a south London council estate who defied his parents' protests to became one of the most respected puppeteers of all time.

What did I think?

What an amazing memoir!  Seriously, this is the best and most interesting biography I have ever read and I'm not just saying that because I love Zippy from Rainbow.  I read it over the course of 24 hours and I have never read a non-fiction book so quickly, so that tells you how good it is.

It's very much a story of Ronnie Le Drew's professional life and that's what makes the prose flow so effortlessly.  Not that some personal lives aren't interesting but sometimes it is a bit like looking at somebody else's holiday photos and you can't wait to get to the end of the album.  With just enough interesting snippets of Ronnie's personal life, the weighting of personal/professional in this book was absolutely perfect to hold my interest.  After all, and no offence to Ronnie Le Drew, I think most people will be attracted to this book by the big mouthed orange puppet on the cover.

With Ronnie Le Drew's behind the scenes story, a lot of questions are answered in Zippy and Me.  George is clearly a hippo but just what exactly is Zippy supposed to be?  It makes much more sense now that the origin of Zippy's creation has been revealed by Ronnie Le Drew.  I always felt that Zippy was different to the other characters and now I know why, with idea stealing TV executives sniffing about.  Also, what was the story with Rod, Jane and Freddy?  Not only are they amazingly prolific composers and talented musicians but their story is indeed as colourful as the rainbow.

I know he likes to take centre stage, but this story isn't just about Zippy.  With Ronnie Le Drew's experience encompassing theatre, TV and film there are so many interesting stories to read in Zippy and Me.  I had no idea that Phillip Schofield had tread the boards in musical theatre after his stint in the Broom Cupboard but perhaps the most interesting fact for me is Ronnie's famous finger.  What an absolutely priceless story!  I'm not going to spoil it so you'll just have to read Zippy and Me to find out where you will have definitely seen Ronnie's famous finger.

This nostalgia filled memoir tactfully reveals the stories behind the most iconic children's TV show of all time, whilst keeping the magic alive for Rainbow fans.  With something for everyone, whether you're a fan of Rainbow or The Muppets, it's a fascinating insight into the puppetry world.  I absolutely loved it and I devoured every single page with relish.  One not to miss for Rainbow fans and it's very highly recommended.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Ronnie Le Drew is one of the UK's most respected puppeteers, and recipient of the prestigious Harlequin Award. He has operated many of the most iconic children’s puppets of the twentieth century – Zippy, Sweep, Muffin the Mule, Bill and Ben, Brains from Thunderbirds – as well as working on classic puppet films such as Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors and The Muppet Christmas Carol. He continues to work regularly as a puppeteer in TV, theatre and advertising and also teaches at the London School of Puppetry, which he founded in 1987.

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1 comment:

  1. Delighted that you loved this Michelle, thanks so much for the blog tour support x