Zappe! Zappeur (partially found French children's puppet show block; 1987)

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Zappe zappeur.jpg

Zappeur, in front of the record art.

Status: Partially Found

Zappe! Zappeur was a kid show block, featuring puppets, that aired on French channel TF1, on Sundays, from 9:00 am to 10:00 am, from January 11th to August 30th of the year 1987.

It was created by Christophe Izard, who was also the author of many popular puppet kid show blocks on French TV in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Premise

Zappeur and Gridby

The main character of the show was an anthropomorphic dog called Zappeur (his name comes from the French verb/term "zapper", which means to quickly flick through TV channels; it was a trendy term in 1980s France when TV remotes became more common and was at the center of some controversy as it was accused of promoting short attention spans). He wears green pajamas, slippers and is constantly lazily sitting in his armchair, flicking through channels.

Annoyed Zappeur (possibly at Gridby)

Every time he stops at a channel, it cuts either to a cartoon episode or a short skit with live actors, parodying mainstream TV.

Each part hardly lasts more than ten minutes, as Zappeur has a short attention span with his remote control and so he "zaps".

Zappeur lives in his home with an anthropomorphic rat called Gridby, who usually annoys him by eating his food from the fridge or forcing him to change to another channel. Zappeur is however too lazy/addicted to his TV to get more pro-active.

Each Zappe! Zappeur show would usually end with Zappeur's television set exploding in smoke, due to him changing channels too much, too fast.

Promotion and Production

Quite a few magazines promoted Zappe! Zappeur, with pictures of the puppets used. Creator Christophe Izard's legacy as the creator of popular 70s-80s kid shows L'Île aux Enfants ("Children Island") and Le Village dans les Nuages ("The Village in the Clouds") is often mentioned.

An article in children's magazine Pif. Anthropomorphic comic book dog Pif is on the right. Pif is possibly better known among English-speakers as "Spiff" due to his animated series Pif et Hercule (1989-1990) which was dubbed in English as Spiff & Hercules.
An article in TV program magazine Télé 7 Jours. Izard talks about how he came up with the idea of the show. Brunier talks about the puppet-building and puppeteering process. Izard's previous works get talked about some more.

Christophe Izard was shocked by children constantly flicking channels when watching TV. He decided to create a character who would do it for them.

His own pet dog Tarzan, a 4-year-old basset hound, inspired him to create Zappeur as a lazy anthropomorphic dog. The puppet was built by Yves Brunier.

Although most available information refers to the rat sidekick as "Gridby", the Télé 7 Jours article calls him "Gripy", saying his name was based on "grippe" (which means "influenza"), because he is meant to be annoying. Gridby's appearance is supposed to be a cross between a sewer rat and a hedgehog. Strangely enough, the same Télé 7 Jours article says that Gridby is greenish, even though all pictures clearly show him as yellow and red!

Yves Brunier was the puppeteer of Gridby, while Boris Scheigam controlled Zappeur. The puppets were made of latex, which made them more "realistic" and sturdier than Brunier's previous works, that usually used foam. Zappeur's eyes were mobile while Gridby's were still.

Legacy

A few image stills of the show (courtesy of planete-jeunesse.com).
While Zappe! Zappeur had its fans who still have good memories of it, it is one of the most forgotten French nostalgic kid show blocks from the 1980s.

And for a good reason: until early 2018, absolutely no footage has ever resurfaced on the Internet.

Some "nostalgia" websites have image stills from the show, but it is unknown if the people who uploaded them actually have - or still have - a copy of the footage. Some forum users alluded to them having VHS recordings, but they have yet to make them public.

Christophe Izard's legacy was also possibly too big for his own good: everyone remembered him as the creator of very beloved, timeless shows. It is possible Zappe! Zappeur simply couldn't compare to those high standards, which wasn't made better by the fact that it relied on a "hip" gimmick that wouldn't please old-time fans (and eventually age badly).

Zappe! Zappeur was soon followed on TF1 by Club Dorothée, which has become one of the most popular French kid show blocks ever, further overshadowing its predecessor.

The only media that has resurfaced online is the opening theme song that was sold on a record and a short TV spot.

Cartoons Aired

  • Antivol
  • Buzuck (also a rare show)
  • Calimero (1972 Italian animated series)
  • Coloquinte et Potiron (also a rare show)
  • Dodu Dodo (also a rare show)
  • Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines (as Satanas et Diabolo)
  • James Hound
  • La Maison de Toutou (aka Hector's House)
  • La Noiraude
  • Simon le Petit Démon (also a rare show)
  • Wally Gator
  • Wonder Wheels (as Super Bécane)

Theme Song

Theme song of the show, from a record. It is sung by a mysterious artist referred as "Télécommande" (which means "remote control") and composed by Christophe Izard and Tony Rallo.

Lyrics Translation

Zappeur !
Zappeur, don't be, don't be afraid !
Zappeur !
Zappeur, you're always on time
Zappeur !
Zappeur, for our happiness
Come on, zap, Zappeur !
Zappeur, don't be afraid!
Come on, zap, Zappeur, don't be afraid !

On the eighth channel
There is lil' Irène who is singing with her curlers
An old captain
Is coming on the sixteenth channel
To juggle with his kepis*
Tarzan is strolling
With Madame Sans-Gêne**
And is going to watch Platini***
Change a few channels
Because it is the time where you'll see
This crazy Zappeur
With Gridby

(chorus:)
If you fiddle with
Your remote control
All the TVs
Will follow
Will mix up
But you, don't be afraid to zap !
[Zappeur, zappeur, don't be afraid !]

There are anchormen
Who are running on the circus ring
They'll get back in the closet
Acrobat monkeys
Who land on their feet
While doing the splits
The old men are unleashed
Because clown Gégène
Just sat on a firecracker
Zappeur is scrambling
And the channels are following
The TV has heated up
It's gonna blow !

(chorus)

(chorus)

(chorus)

  • * A kepi is a cylindrical cap worn by some members of the French military. It is mostly associated with gendarmes (military law enforcers in France).
  • ** Madame Sans-Gêne ("Mrs Shameless") is a famous female fighter from the French Revolution, whose life was told in a popular play which was adapted several times into a movie.
  • *** Michel Platini was a very popular French soccer player back in the 1980s.

Found Footage

On February 2nd of 2018, French vintage children's TV channel YoupiLa5animation uploaded a short TV spot promoting TF1 (referred then often as "the One") featuring Zappeur, where his voice can finally be heard.

Zappeur:"For me, Zappeur, the king of channel surfing... there is only one."
Jingle song: "There is only one, it is the One!"

External Links