When I was very very young I had a Rupert the Bear teddy that went everywhere with me, I didn’t really know the cartoons then, or the comic books. But the clothes he wore (always wore!) a red jumper and bright yellow checked trousers, with matching yellow scarf are seared onto my memory.
Rupert the Bear cartoons were very popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, with the annuals selling in the 100,000’s (I had quite a few of these), and the cartoons being exported all around the world – and Rupert appearing in Paul McCartney's 1984 music video "We All Stand Together" (McCartney even made an animated video starring Rupert called Rupert and the Frog Song). Can you remember that – Bong bong bong aiya!
However, Rupert was first created by the English artist Mary Tourtel for Daily Express newspaper in 1920. Rather disappointingly, Rupert’s purpose was to win sales from the rival Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. Though he has gone onto much less cynical endeavours since then!
Indeed, since then Rupert has become a big part of children's culture in the UK having quite a few different storytellers in his time – and illustrators –Alfred Bestall in 1935 took him over for a time, drawing him well into his 90’s but there are many people who have helped create this lovable national icon.
To take it back to the beginning though - Rupert is a white bear who lives with his parents in a house in Nutwood. Like any child – he would start off most episodes on a small errand for his mother and end up in fantastic world of adventures.
Brilliantly – the other characters in Rupert the Bear stories are animals made to look like humans – Bill the badger, Edward Trunk, Willie mouse, there are other characters like “The Professor” and Sailor Sam, Captain Binnacle and Rollo, and rather un-pc “the Gypsy boy”.
On 31 October 2005, UK Media Group Entertainment bought majority interest to the Rupert Bear character from the Daily Express and it looks like there are now plans for a film and more books, that will see Rupert brought up to date for a new generation!