The puppeteer behind Zippy from the classic British children's television show Rainbow has spoken out about what went on behind the scenes.

While a show about a grown man who lives with two sentient puppets and a man in bear suit might seem innocent, Ronnie Le Drew has revealed that some of the behaviour off-camera was far from it.

The show, launched in 1972, ran for 27 series and 1071 episodes and children loved its three main characters: Bungle the teddy bear, George the hippopotamus and Zippy, a yellow creature with a zip for a mouth.

Speaking to the Daily Mail ahead of the release of his book Zippy and Me, Le Drew told how the cast were heavy drinkers who loved "getting lashed" and arranging the animals into sex positions.

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Le Drew recalled how, on one occasion, an archbishop was being shown around the studio and found the crew laughing with "Zippy mounted upon George, going at it hammer and tong".

He also claimed that the show's singer, Jane Tucker, was nicknamed "Miss Whiplash" because she would flash open her coat to show a "leather S&M outfit" and ask Zippy to "play with her maracas".

Le Drew also claimed the cast would place the on-set models of zoo and farm animals so they were in sexual positions.

He says there was also a culture of heavy drinking and the group would regularly turn up drunk to rehearsals.

According to Le Drew there was also jealousy on the show, as host Geoffrey Hayes became frustrated that his star was eclipsed by the puppets, who received more fan mail than he did.

"Geoffrey was afraid of being upstaged by Zippy and George", said Le Drew.

Bad behaviour behind the scenes of Rainbow won't be news to some after a 1979 recording, meant for a staff Christmas tape, was leaked in 1997.

The infamous Twangers episode later became popular on You Tube and showed Geoffrey and the puppets engaging in some very risque conversation.

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The long-running show was cancelled in 1992, but has remained a cult favourite ever since.