Guest Post: 7 Reasons Why The Banana Splits Are Brilliant
I would like to say we’ve been saving this one especially for Christmas. But that would be lying. The truth is I lost this post in the 7 Reasons vault sometime in April. Not that I knew it at the time. You see, this only came to light on Friday when today’s author – Richard O’Hagan – queried why we hadn’t published his 43rd 7 Reasons work. Or words to that effect anyway. I said I didn’t know and blamed Marc. Then I realised it was my fault. Anyway, it’s all sorted now and today Richard’s post finally gets the airing it deserves. If you want to read more from Richard, he’s still remembering things and writing them down over at The Memory Blog.
This post was precipitated by a conversation which I had with Marc at the end of March. Well, I say ‘conversation’, but it was on Twitter and largely consisted of me sitting there twiddling my thumbs whilst Marc went off and changed nappies/fed the wife/saved the world/did other manly things. The conversation began with Marc comparing me to the fifth Beatle, something which I objected to on the grounds of limited life expectancy and even more limited royalty cheques. It ended with me agreeing to be the fifth Banana Split, which suits me fine because I have a weakness for ice cream sundaes (they are more edible that Russian Roulette ones, I find).
Then I realised that he didn’t mean delicious fruit and dairy desserts, but the television show of the same name. Which I didn’t mind either, because I loved that show as a kid. In fact, here are ‘7 Reasons Why The Banana Splits Are Brilliant’.
1. Fleegle. What better name could there be for a beagle? It rhymes, it has the ‘flea’ connotation, and moreover this one was in charge of one of the greatest television shows ever. If I actually liked dogs, and if they didn’t fall foul of my ‘no point in having any pet that you can’t eat’ rule*, and if I was going to get a beagle, I’d name it ‘Fleegle’ too.
2. Bingo. Bingo was the drum playing orangutan with the glasses and the biggest grin this side of an American TV evangelist. Whenever great, charismatic, drummers are mentioned – Moon the Loon, Bonzo Bonham, Animal from The Muppets – Bingo is always left out, yet that level of spaced out dementia doesn’t just come from nowhere. Today, 7 Reasons is putting Bingo back where he belongs, in the great pantheon of drumming nutjobs.
3. Snorky. Without a doubt the least convincing elephant in the history of television, Snorky (for some reason referred to as ‘Snork’ in the theme song) was the non-speaking, squeaking, member of the Splits. Surprisingly deft on the keyboards and remarkably hairy, he has the odd distinction of being the most recognisable of the four despite never saying an intelligible word, thereby making him the Ian Brown of his day.
4. Drooper. It was only when I was researching this piece – yes, there was research, you think I just know this stuff? – that I realised that Drooper was supposed to be a lion. I’d always assumed that he was some particularly mangy breed of dog. Now I know that he’s actually the skinniest, mangiest lion in history. But he did have exceedingly cool sunglasses well before the likes of Liam Gallagher were even thought of. And ‘Drooper’s Letters’ preceded anything Viz could come up with by at least a decade. Moreover, he was voiced by
5. Daws Butler. The legendary Hanna-Barbera voiceover artist, the man behind not only Snagglepuss and Quick Draw McGraw, but Yogi Bear himself. That’s right, the Banana Splits have a direct genetic line to Yogi and BooBoo, despite none of them being a bear at all. Which means that they invented cross species genetic engineering long before Wayne Rooney’s parents thought of it.
6. Banana Buggies. Would sir like a multicoloured beach buggy to drive across the dunes at high speed? YES PLEASE! If there has been a cooler summertime mode of transport than a Banana Buggy then I have yet to see it. And better still, unlike other anthropomorphosised television characters, they didn’t have to share. Oh no. They got one each. Being a Banana Split meant never having to wonder which seat you were going to sit in, and therefore never having to understand Rebecca Black.
7. Theme Tune. The theme tune is, without doubt, the greatest children’s tv theme of all time. Aside from anything else, it is the only one to have been covered by a punk band** and the only one that it is still cool to sing when you are as old as me***. And definitely the only one to have been released on yellow vinyl.
*You were expecting a tired cliché masquerading as a joke here, won’t you. Go on, admit it! I can see you smiling, you know.
**The Toy Dolls’ cover of ‘Nellie the Elephant’ doesn’t count, as it was never the theme to a children’s show and they were about as punk as Cliff Richard
***Oh, yes it is!
No no no. The Banana Splits were awful. I remember watching it in horror, tearfully pleading with my dad to explain just what the hell was going on. I remember the helpless look on his face, and I knew he was as lost as I was. It was a terrible father-son moment, where we both faced up to our own failure. “Why are they laughing daddy? Why?”
I am with you on the theme tune though.