Imagine – Bungle – beat poet, icon, bear.



Shot of Bungle with a couple of plastic bags smoking a fag outside The Coach and Horses in Greek Street. He’s got a large whisky. He tries to open a bag of nuts but they fly everywhere.

Bungle V/O: People say Soho isn’t the place it was. That’s true. In the Colony Rooms back in the 1960s right through to the 1980s there was a scene and you never knew who’d pop in. On any given night you might see Bacon and Freud arguing with Lisa Stansfield about art while Michael Aspel bashed out Lynard Skynyard hits on a clarinet. Or perhaps you’d catch Denis Norden chatting about civil rights with Shakin’ Stevens over a pint while Warhol or Pinter tried to butt in. The Krays, Peter Cook, Biggins, they were all there. All dead now of course. Apart from Biggins. And Norden. And Aspel. And Stansfield. She never rings. None of them do. So dead to me.

Yentob: A star of TV from the seventies until early nineties Bungle the Bear is perhaps best known for daytime children’s show Rainbow. But in the early 1960’s Bungle was a revered Beat Poet with a cult following in New York and a series of avant-garde spoken word records to his name.

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Bungle’s experimental 1993 Acid Jazz album failed to chart

Shot of Bungle in black and white footage doing Beat poetry in a New York club. Ginsberg. Dylan. They’re all there.

Bungle: People say I was a good poet. Wrong. I was a great poet. But then the acting jobs came along and eclipsed all that.

Bungle walks through Soho – people point. He doesn’t seem to notice.

Bungle: I don’t like talking about Rainbow because sure it’s what I’m remembered for but it doesn’t define me. Type casting doesn’t happen in America. Look at De Niro. Or The Kardashians. Or High Tower in the later Police Academy Series as the character developed. I remember talking to Martin Shaw about just that when I was filming an episode of The Professionals where they went to a Zoo. I played a bear.

Yentob: It was a performance as THE Bear in a National Theatre production of The Winter’s Tale that led to a call from Hollywood and a brief move there with his young family.

Bungle looking in bins

Bungle staring into the Thames

Bungle on a park bench smoking a cigarette

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Original screen test for Star Wars

Bungle: Guinness rang me one day and said there was a part for me in this thing called Star Wars and would I audition. He sounded kind of desperate. I did it more as a favour really and yes of course George Lucas loved me. Begged me to play the role of Chewbacca. It was pathetic really. I thought it was shit. People flying around in space planes… when you’ve just put something as good as Series One of Rainbow in the can you know what quality is. Also – in those days you didn’t mess with Thames TV Children – they had enforcers and Geoff Hayes would have you against a fucking wall if you just looked at him. He had a reputation if you get my drift. So I agreed to another series and then another – I’d scat – I’d throw in a lot of my beat poetry. They’d let me do conceptual art sometimes. Never actually watched it. Then one day I’m in a branch of Radio Rentals in St Albans and the show comes on and – for the first time I realise I’ve been dubbed. The fucking suits have dubbed me. That was it. I was 40 years old and I suddenly discovered that all my best work had been dubbed. A bitter blow. I sounded like a woman. And they made me do the whole thing naked. It was kind of weird. (BEAT) Hold this – I need to go and talk to someone.

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You didn’t mess with Hayes – or he’d have you against a wall

Shot of Bungle standing on top Broadcasting House shouting at passers by

Yentob: What’s he doing?

Voice: I don’t know.

Bungle is still on the roof. He’s drinking. A man dressed as a giant apple appears and starts arguing with him. A woman in a comedy waitress outfit and outsized glasses climbs onto the roof and they all start fighting. Suddenly they lose their balance and fall. Screams.

Yentob: What are we going to do we’ve only got three minutes in the can…?

Jump cut to ducks on a pond. A small boy is feeding the ducks. he looks up and sees the camera. Starts shouting: “Perverts! Perverts!”