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Rainbow’s Zippy backs calls to 'free' Orville and Emu and put them in a museum


Rainbow’s Zippy is backing calls to liberate Orville and Emu – and put them in a museum.

We told yesterday how the bird puppets are at the centre of a legal battle, after the widows of TV legends Keith Harris and Rod Hull stopped them being auctioned off by claiming ownership.

Seven months on, both are “determined to have the birds returned to their rightful owners” – but the puppets are “trapped in captivity”.

Now the man behind Zippy has joined calls for them to be set free.

Ronnie Lew Drew, 72, who has given Zippy his voice since 1973, said: “A museum is the best place for them rather than an independent buyer.

“It gives people the chance to see them.

“They are so iconic. I have a Zippy puppet but another is on display in The National Science and Media Museum.

“Orville and Emu deserve the same.”

Rainbow’s puppet stars – Zippy, Bungle and George – were kept in check by late host Geoffrey Hayes in the much-loved children’s TV show.

Emu and Orville are at the centre of a legal battle

Sydney-based Cher Hylton-Hull said: “Emu should be in the V&A or a theatrical museum – not in a private collector’s hands.”

Sarah Harris agreed, insisting: “Orville should be going to a museum.”

The women say merchandiser Roger Shaw put the puppets up for auction last December after claiming he was “gifted” them by Rod and Keith, who died in 1999 and 2015 respectively.

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Keith Harris with Orville in 2002

But Sarah, who lives near Blackpool, revealed yesterday how Orville had only been loaned to Shaw to make replica puppets which could be sold at venues.

She said: “I had always presumed Orville had been returned to Keith’s management firm for safekeeping.

Children’s entertainer Rod Hull with his manic animal sidekick Emu in 1970

“That was until I heard that Roger Shaw was selling our Orville at auction. I was totally shocked.”

Cher said Emu had been loaned but added: “There is no way he’d have given Emu to him for keeps.”





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