The Banana Splits

1968 | United States

Following the demise of The Monkees, NBC put four actors into oversize animal costumes, brought in Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In dancer Byron Gillian as choreographer and threw in some Hannah-Barbera cartoons, and produced 125 madcap episodes of a series first aired in the US in 1968 as The Banana Splits Adventure Hour

The Splits were Snorky (a baby elephant), Bingo (a gorilla), Drooper (a lion) and Fleegle (a dog). When not racing their Buggie cars, playing 'wacky' games on a football pitch or singing to pre-recorded tracks the gang could be seen cavorting around their Banana Pad indulging in nonsensical (some might say surreal) jokes. There was a Dear Drooper spot where the wisecracking lion would answer viewer's questions before being set upon by rival pop band The Sour Grapes. In another memorable sequence Drooper would try and take the trash out only to find that the dustbin didn't want it and so it unceremoniously threw back at him. In between all this mayhem were cartoon adventures of The Three Musketeers, The Arabian Knights, The Hillbilly Bears and The Micro Adventures. There was also a live action serial entitled Danger Island, which can boast of having given future 'Superman' and 'Lethal Weapon's' Richard Donner a chance to cut his directorial teeth. Barry White also began his career as a singer/songwriter by penning numbers for the band. 

The series had a catchy theme song (One banana, two banana's, three banana's, four...) known as the Tra La La Song, written by Ritchie Adams and Mark Barkan. The series aired in the UK from 1969-71 on Saturday morning BBC and was repeated years later as part of Channel 4's Big Breakfast. Hold the Bus! 

Published on November 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.