“Rupert” by Jackie Lee
Many of us may have never heard of Rupert Bear stateside. But he is a pretty-popular children character across the pond. And this particular tune served as the opening theme song to his first television show, which aired during the 1970s. And as such, we can say its overall purpose is to convince potential viewers to watch the show.
As implied above, said audience would primarily consist of children. So from the onset, the titular figure is presented as being “a little bear… who’s a lot of fun”. He is also shown to be a friend of kids, the type of character who, as time progresses, they learn to “love… more and more”.
Additionally, Rupert is depicted as being very adventurous – having a good “million stories” written about him. And verily having experienced his literary heyday date back during the earlier 20th century, by the time the 1970s rolled around there were already a plethora of books out about Rupert Bear. These ranged from him interacting with pirates to Humpty Dumpty to an enchanted princess and so on.
So the implication is that the television show which this song is introducing will feature such adventures and colorful characters also.
The audience is then encouraged to sing Rupert’s name and “join in all of the games”. So you too (as in children in particular) are being invited to partake of the fun of the TV show. And in doing so you will meet some of his friends like “Badger Bill”, “Tiger Lilly… and a whole lot more”.
And the name of the English ‘hood they live in, “Nutwood”, is also dropped. But of course Nutwood is not a real place. Rather it’s a “magical”, i.e. fictional, “land far away” where the likes of bears and tigers pretty much live their lives like human beings.
So basically the purpose of this track is two-fold. First it is to let the audience know that Rupert is a cool dude to hang out with, especially as far as children are concerned. And secondly, he is inviting all to partake of his fascinating lifestyle. And of course the latter can be accomplished by actually watching The Adventures of Rupert Bear television program.
Who is Jackie Lee?
Jackie Lee is a mid-to-late 20th century singer from Ireland. She formerly went by the professional name of Jacky but changed it to the above around the same time she dropped “Rupert” in 1971.
Facts about “Rupert”
The titular “Rupert” is actually a children’s comic character dating back to the 1920s. This particular song was used in a puppet-based television series based on the character called The Adventures of Rupert Bear. That show originally aired on the British television network ITV from 1970 to 1977.
You may notice that whereas the aforementioned show is entitled “The Adventures of Rupert Bear”, and the character himself is called Rupert Bear, Jackie Lee rather refers to him as Rupert the Bear in the lyrics. This is considered to be a mistake on behalf of the songwriters.
However, that’s something which fans apparently did not pick up on or really care about, and “Rupert” is still considered by the British public as being one of the best TV theme songs of all time. In fact if one would read the “bear” in lower case as opposed to upper case, it still makes sense.
This wasn’t the first time Jackie Lee dropped a poppin’ TV theme song. Under her original moniker of Jacky she also sang the British theme for a German television program known as White Horses which ran from 1966 to 1967.
And whereas the show itself did not catch on, in 2003 a publication known as The Penguin TV Companion ranked it as the best television theme ever. And to note, “Rupert” was also ranked in the top 10 of all time television theme songs by that same organization.
The label that put “Rupert” out was UK-based Pye Records, a known player back in the day that has since gone defunct.
And as implied above “Rupert” proved to be a notable hit mainstream hit. It made it to number 14 on the UK Singles Chart itself, as they get down like that sometimes in the UK.
Who wrote “Rupert”?
The authorship of this song is credited to Ron Roker and the late Frank Weston, who may be more recognizable to some under his real name, Len Beadle (1932-2000).
At the time the above pair wrote the song, Len Beadle was married to Jackie Lee. So that is how, at the suggestion of Beadle, she became involved in the song.
Roker and Weston also participated in terms of providing background noises to the track.