Zippy and Me – Who’s Zippy
Zippy and Me is an entertaining and easy-going autobiography by British puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew, the man beneath Zippy. Who’s is Zippy you ask? I had very little knowledge of the puppet before reading this book. I now know that the character was one of the stars of the incredibly popular children’s television program Rainbow.
To put this in perspective for Americans such as myself, Rainbow was the UK answer to Sesame Street. The yellow “Unique” achieved Elmo-like superstardom. Honestly, Zippy and his hippo puppet pal George may have a bit of an edge on poor little Elmo. These puppets saw an incredible second wave of popularity with college students after Rainbow was canceled. I don’t believe that there is any adult who would go to a nightclub to see Elmo. Cookie Monster maybe, but definitely not Elmo.
The Pain and Joy of Puppetry
Ronnie’s storytelling style is friendly and welcoming. The reader is invited into the author’s life as a puppeteer. Beginning with his childhood, performing puppet shows for neighborhood children, to finding his way to the famous Little Angel Theatre as a teenager. The more detail writing explains about working on a long-running hit TV series and feature films (Labyrinth and more!). Finally, it ends with a pleasing, happy note of satisfaction. Ronnie certainly had a remarkable puppetry career performing both marionettes and hand puppets on stage and screen.
The book is very enjoyable. While reading it I felt that the author was sharing his life story with me over tea, with the possibility of Zippy popping up from behind a counter at any moment. Wouldn’t that be something!
There is also a certain amount of encouragement to be found too. It’s nice to know that the man beneath England’s most popular puppet also felt the aches and pains of puppetry, both physical and emotional. Believe me, puppetry is absolutely no walk in the park.
Inspiration for Puppeteers
Puppeteers and performers, in general, are encouraged to read this book. While reading it, I found it to be very inspiring, showing that determination and hard work can lead to big things, that just might be what you always wanted to do with your life. In Ronnie’s case, this was puppetry. Thank you for taking the time to share your life story with the world, Ronnie.
Here’s a wonderful documentary film that is the perfect companion to this book:
Did You Read Zippy and Me too?
Let me know what you thought about the real-life puppeteer adventures of puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew.
Zippy and Me: My Life Inside Britain’s Most Infamous Puppet by Ronnie Le Drew with Duncan Barrett & Nuala Calvi (2019, Unbound, 416 pages)