Memories of Rubovia

I enjoyed [Rubovia], quite honestly I enjoyed it. I joined the BBC in the ‘50’s, 1955, and then television was all-live, going straight from the studio. At first I did puppet plays because basically I’m a puppeteer, rather than a television or film producer... Of course, going out live in a television studio, all sorts of accidents used to happen, so I got fed up with that and I bought myself a film camera. Because I had a rehearsal studio, purely for puppets, I turned it into a film studio and took the films myself, produced and directed them... I did the lot. The [BBC] didn’t really understand puppets, so they let me do it. It was very pleasant... So I enjoyed myself for about ten years, I think.

I’ve always been interested in the traditional fairy stories and folk when [the BBC] tried to make me do modern things, I resisted. At the time I suppose fairy stories were considered as being a bit old-fashioned, but my elder child was born during the middle of Rubovia, and it encouraged me to go even further into it.... But it corresponded to a time when the BBC wanted to bring children’s television up-to-date, they wanted real life. The fashion at the time was all sorts of science fiction and space age stuff...and I said it wasn’t really me. That’s what seems to attract a lot of children these days.

[Regarding our efforts (through this website) to get Rubovia out for people to enjoy again, Gordon said,
“Oh, well that's splendid! Good, good. Perhaps I might even consider remaking the whole thing… (laughter)… in glorious colour!”]

Gordon Murray, creator, producer and director of "Rubovian Legends" and "Rubovia". 
August 23, 2003.

For me, working on Rubovia was a favourite time.

I remember that the first time the [Rubovia Castle] model was to be used, a huge electrical cable was let loose from the studio gantry and it smashed into the model just half an hour before the programme was transmitted. We had to hurriedly patch it up and somehow the tower was never quite as it should have been after that!

Andrew Brownfoot, settings and costume designer for "Rubovian Legends". 
November 2003.

Rubovia now seems a long time ago, but I still have so many very happy memories of doing the programme. It was a delight to work with Gordon Murray, who was not only immensely professional, but also so kind and friendly to work for and with. It was a real pleasure to go to work in "The Tin Shed" (which we called our rehearsal rooms at Lime Grove, Shepherds Bush, London).

Roy Skelton, voice actor on "Rubovian Legends", mostly as the Lord Chamberlain.
October 2003.

So good to know that Rubovia is still a country worth visiting.  We all had such fun working on it.

James Beattie, voice actor on "Rubovian Legends", mostly as Sir Albert Weatherspoon.
October 2003.

I  became passionately interested in puppets at the age of four, and watched every television programme that featured them in any shape or form. I began to watch Rubovia at about the age of eight, and I was enchanted by it. The scripts were well written, the puppets and sets were beautiful, and it all had great charm. The stories had a quite sophisticated humour (for example in the somewhat oppressive relationship of the Queen to the King) which made them appealing to adults without losing the child audience; and the designs, which I believe were Gordon Murray’s own work, harked back to the court of Louis XIV.

My parents had a photographic retail shop, and amongst their customers was a BBC television cameraman. Learning of my interest in puppets, he obtained permission for me to visit the studio in Television Centre where Rubovia was made. It was the most thrilling thing that had happened to me up to that point in my life!

We were received very kindly by Gordon Murray, who spent about an hour showing us around. Looking back on it, I am amazed by his patience with this young visitor, whose conversation could have been of no interest to him at all! The thing I remember most clearly was that all of the sets, including the model of the castle on the mountaintop, which appeared in the opening shot, were built on large tables on wheels. They could be pushed underneath the bridge which carried the puppeteers, which was a permanent and fixed structure. There were only four or five sets, and only a small number of puppets. As far as I can remember, there was only one version of each of the characters, with the exception of the Queen, who had two dresses. Part of the charm of the series lay in seeing how these familiar characters interacted with each other in a variety of situations.  The Queen would always be nagging the King, who would be mildly consoled by his Lord Chamberlain, who in turn was never bold enough to refer directly to the Queen’s unappealing characteristics. But my favourite characters were Weatherspoon the gardener and his cat, who used to pump the bellows when he was playing the harmonium.

Alas, Rubovia didn’t last in that studio for very long after my visit. I believe they took the view at the BBC that it was an extravagance to allocate quite a large room to the production of 13 or 26 episodes of a children’s programme each year. The way in which children’s programming was produced began to change fundamentally. Instead of producing things in-house, the BBC would commission outside companies to do things and deliver to contract. This meant that overheads had to be kept to a minimum, which in turn meant the end of large-scale marionette productions requiring big sets. (The obvious exceptions were Gerry Anderson’s series, which were produced and marketed on a completely different scale, and which owed their financial viability to the passionate involvement of Lew Grade, one of the greatest showmen ever to work in television.)

Gordon Murray was, of course, well placed to take advantage of the new climate, and he began to produce stop-action animation, which virtually took over from puppets. I found them—and I still find them—very dreary. The movement is crude, the design basic, and the scripts extremely bland. Everyone is so nice, and they are so preachy. I don’t blame Gordon Murray for this—he was operating within the constraints of his time—but it is significant that when, a few years ago, the BBC issued a video with examples of children’s programmes from the Watch with Mother series, it became the BBC’s best-selling videocassette to date. Now, alas, the Watch with Mother puppet series like Andy Pandy and Bill and Ben are also being remade—in stop-action animation.

I really wish the BBC would issue Rubovia on video. How I would enjoy being taken back to that magical and charming world again!

Robert Whelan

I saw Rubovia on NZBC Television when I was 11 years old. My strongest memories are of the interesting conversations and accents of King Rufus and the Lord Chamberlain. However, my favorite character was Pongo the Queen’s little dragon.  Pongo captured my heart, and even although I knew he wasn’t real, he came alive for me.  I remember studying his movements intently, trying to figure out how he could be manipulated by just one person. When he walked, he really looked like he was walking, and he had legs, plus a head and tail for someone to deal with.  His wings and beautiful scales deeply fascinated me too.  As for the first time I saw steam or smoke coming out of his mouth or nose, I was almost beside myself with excitement!  That’s when it seemed that Pongo really breathed and was totally alive.  Pongo in my mind was absolutely perfect, and when he was on the TV screen, I hardly noticed anything else.  I realize now I was quite obsessed. 

I remember puss was quite entertaining, but for some reason, she seemed very mechanical to me compared with what I considered to be the fluidity of Pongo.  With puss, I thought about how she was dependent on the strings.  With Pongo, I could imagine him just walking off and leaving his puppeteer/s standing there with their mouths open. 

I know I changed after seeing Pongo in that I had a lot more interest in puppets, although mainly the four-legged ones.  While watching them, I was always trying to discover more because I wanted to find answers to my long-held questions about how Pongo worked.  Was he hollow inside?  How could they have managed the steam or smoke effect?  How were the legs coordinated so perfectly?  Was he really able to walk on all fours, or is that a memory enhanced by the passage of time?  I still wonder about these things...

My hope is that the surviving episodes of the original Rubovia will be re-released again soon.  Although I also have some interest in the colour stop-motion episodes, which I’ve only seen still pictures of, I can already tell that they don’t have the exquisite detail of the marionettes.  Actually, Pongo the stop-motion version looks more like a droopy-eared dog to me. Without his former wings and dragon scales, he just isn’t the same.

Jan Roxburgh

I was crossing Clapham Common yesterday when I experienced something I can only describe as a Proustian rush. I heard an elderly lady calling after her dog. 'Pongo!' she cried, 'Pongo Pongo Pongo!'

I was immediately transported to a country I wasn't even sure ever existed. But somewhere in the haunted west wing of my memory I uncovered the name Rubovia , and slightly indistinct images of a William and Mary style royal family.

The only other line of dialogue I could recall was, "Your move, Chamberlain!" Am I correct in thinking that it was something of a catch-phrase for King Rufus? I seem to remember it was often repeated. What I find truly extraordinary is that I can recall the line at all—I must have heard it for the last time in the early sixties.

Since then I have occasionally mentioned the programme and have only ever met with complete non-recognition from my contemporaries. I began to think that perhaps I'd only imagined that magical little kingdom. 

Even as an 6/7/8 year old I recognised that the programme was slightly 'creaking'—the production values exactly mirrored the Rubovian idyll—a refusal to join the 20th century! It was very much part of its charm. 

This morning I searched the internet and was delighted to find the Rubovian site. I haven't yet looked in any detail—but I look forward to doing so with enormous pleasure and anticipation.

Philip Browning

Some fragments of memory...

Farmer Bottle was certainly in the earlier series: his catch phrase was "I know [knows?] the rules" as he was forever digging up ancient pieces of law that the palace had to abide by. —I think it was one such rule that led to the business with the fire engine [Fire, Fire, Fire]. Incidentally, I don't think the Rubovians could have been totally ignorant of electricity, as in another episode, Weatherspoon got his hands on a cine camera, and mused about making an epic film entitled "The Battle of Borsovia". Incidentally, wasn't MacGregor an ordinary (as opposed to Red) Indian—he wore a turban?

John Old

John also kindly provided a detailed plot synopsis for Sinister Visitor (see Chronology/Episode Guide), as well as some other historical details (see History section). —Thank you! We'll recommend you for a Rubovian Royal Commendation.

The phrase I remember the most was Weatherspoon's, "Oh! It's the speaking tube, puss." It became something of a catch phrase for us, whenever the phone rang.

The 'speaking tube' was used by the King and others to summon Weatherspoon from his workshop. I can't remember if it was always there or whether it was added at some point. I suspect the Queen calling Pongo is the most commonly remembered phrase, certainly if you mention the series to anyone they often don't remember it until they hear that, then they say Oh yes...

Jerry Mortimore

I was delighted, and full of nostalgia, after finding your superb website  devoted to 'Rubovia'. I was talking about the programme the other day with a friend, who had no recollection of it at all. I have always carried pictures of the characters in my memory, and seeing them again is quite remarkable.

Thank you, for reconnecting me with a memorable part of my childhood. I know that I developed a fascination for marionettes as a child, and I wonder if that had something to do with the programme. I was bought a 'King' and 'Queen' (nothing like the Rubovians), among other 'topical' characters, all of which were manufactured by Pelham.

I can't quite remember individual programme plots, but the main characters are embedded in my memory, as are their costumes, hairstyles, etc. Pongo, too, is a fond memory.

I am just so pleased that I found that others share the interest and memories, as there have been times when I thought I had imagined the whole subject! It would be great to see the programmes reissued, as they were classics, and I much preferred them to 'Andy Pandy'—but I am sure that he has a legion of fans too.

George Fairfull-Smith, UK

Playing checkers with my seven-year old the other day, she lifted her finger off a piece after moving it, and I suddenly said in my most aristocratic voice: "I distinctly saw daylight between the piece and your finger, and I take this and this and this and this, and I've won the game!" 

It took me a few moments to realize that these were the words of the King of Rubovia beating the poor Chamberlain yet again—if my fifty-year old memory serves me, I seem to remember this was a running gag that opened many episodes. How I loved that show! Quintessentially British and wonderfully staged, and apparently, permanently lodged somewhere in the back of my mind.

I was transported back to the lovely cottage that was my home in Derbyshire in the late 50's, rapt before a small black and white TV after rushing home from school to catch either Rubovia (or Captain Pugwash, my other childhood favorite)...

...I remember the delight [Rubovian Legends] gave me as a child and the wonderful voices, particularly Derek Nimmo, who went on to such success in radio and TV.

Charles Wyke-Smith, USA

Rubovia. Ah!
The halcyon days of the BBC! A contemporary of the excellent Railway Roundabout series which also was "Must See" television at the time. I seem to remember an episode of Rubovia where Mr. Weatherspoon invented and used a fire engine.

Steve Garratt,  UK

I realise that this sounds somewhat eccentric from a 50 year old man but I feel like I found a lost old friend. All my life I have had a vague memory of a children's programme that I absolutely adored. I couldn't quite remember the name but just the characters and wonderful stories that as a child had me entranced in a world of magic. 

Unfortunately nobody else seemed to recall Rubovian Legends and with the passing years I thought I had made the whole thing up in my mind until I came across your website. What a delight, not only was it real but I had the chance to meet the old characters again. I suppose my excitement is a testament to the excellence of the programme and the effect it had upon me at the time and I am sure it influenced my future career within Theatre. 

Fantastic web site right down to pressing the ruby jewels, definitely logged into 'my favourites' and I'll look in now and then to see what's new.

Ken Walker,  UK

I do hope that the BBC release a video of the series. [Your website] brings back so many happy memories. I particularly remember the episode of Chickweed [Wine], and the 'recipe' on the gramophone record. The needle got stuck at 'a pound of yeast', till the cat knocked the record player and the record carried on. I think the castle blew up! 

P.S. It was actually Sarah Kennedy (known as 'Bunty' to fans of her early morning radio programme on BBC Radio 2) reading out a reader's letter about Rubovia and the Chick Weed episode that prompted my memory. Would love to see that one again! But I do remember the haughty Queen gliding along with snout in the air, though on castors... Happy days! 

Everson Whittle, UK

How many people have I asked over the years if they remembered a pet dragon who liked peppermint creams, owned by someone called Caroline? Like others on this site, I began to think it was nothing but the fevered imagination of a child in the early Sixties. Only when Sarah Kennedy mentioned it today on her Radio 2 show did I believe it had been real, and searched and found this site. Thank you so much for bringing me a tiny snapshot of myself about 46 years ago! Please continue lobbying to get this released on DVD.

Deb Elliott,  UK

For the record, what Sarah Kennedy said on BBC Radio 2 (March 23rd, 2006) is this:
"I liked that—um...the one in...Mun...rovia..." 
[Someone please remind Sarah it's Rubovia!]
"Pongo, Pongo, Pongo."
[In her best Queen Caroline impersonation]
"Yes, my love."
[In her best King Rufus impersonation]

Click button to hear the Sarah Kennedy sound clip.

I just don't believe it! For more years than I can remember, I had this memory—of a puppet show I simply LOVED when a child. My favourite character was Weatherspoon (though was VERY fond of Pongo, too!). No-one, but no-one would believe me..... I was beginning to think I had dreamt it.

Thanks to an article in today's Sunday Express [April 2, 2006, pp. 56–57] about Gordon Murray, which, in one throwaway line, mentioned he was responsible for "Rubovia", and my search on the internet began......

Thank you so much for your website, now marked in my favourites. Finally, I know I am not going mad, and my long loved favourite still exists in the minds of others.... just wish I could buy it on DVD or video!

I also discovered today that my other favourite, the Wooden Tops, was where Gordon Murray first worked for the Beeb! Wow!

Lynnette Cannell,  UK

I loved the Rubovia stories and characters—especially Pongo and puss. I'm really glad I've found the website—it's brought back so many memories. I only have hazy memories of  the programme but really loved it. It was the sight of the little, rather moth-eaten cat on the bellows that intrigued me, as well as the bizarre setup at court. I was amazed that so many who signed the petition couldn't find anyone who remembered it—I've been trying for years to a) remember the actual title ( I Googled Pongo), and b) find someone else who saw the programme. I feel as though I've rediscovered part of my childhood so many thanks!

Andrea Hearne, UK

When I was a little girl in England in the 50's I used to watch a puppet show called 'Tales of Rubovia' set in a fairytale land of wizards, kings and queens. There was a court magician who played a small organ, the sound of which fascinated me and stayed in my mind. I could even remember the sound of the tune. Years later, I found out that the sound was the Northumbrian pipes playing the Redesdale Hornpipe. (So, I was bound to grow up with a love of traditional English music, wasn't I?)

Geraldine Legard, UK

Cabbage became my favourite food. Well done little dragon!  —Gary T. Brady

I'm so happy to have found that I wasn't dreaming about this lovely world. I've asked so many people about it and no-one else I know remembers Rubovia - Brilliant brilliant and thank you from Jen
—Jenny Scott

As I liked, and still do, pipe organs, the phrase 'Pressure-up, puss' has stuck. —Tim

Innocent childhood, the Theme still makes me cry, Loved it. —Harry Faulkner

Charm and whimsy from a time before childhood went sour. —Amanda Nicoll

I'm too young to remember the b&w episodes (only just found out on here that Rubovia goes back before Camberwick Green etc.), but I can remember seeing the colour episodes at Watch With Mother time and loved them. Of course, back then, you saw it once and it was over - so I'd love to see them again and I'm sure my kids would love them too. What about the Gublins on DVD too?
Anne Pearce

I can remember being absolutely entranced by this magical series when I would have been about 5-8 years old (I was born in 1955). It fuelled my fascination with late 17th and early 18th century history, the period I later went on to specialise in at University where I read for a history degree between 1973 and 1976. I can still remember some of the characters today. This was a truly wonderful introduction to another age, albeit in a fictitious kingdom. As children we need such keys to unlock the past. I would love to be able to see the programmes again on video.
Caroline Thompson

Rubovia is still the place I want to Live in. Lesley England

Rubovia ranks with Noggin The Nog as a children's classic. Janet Bruce

Weatherspoon:  And I sow the seeds - so!  King Rufus:  So what? Brian Yardley

Weatherspoon:  A pound of yeast, a pound of yeast... Paul Burke

The speaking tube has still not been surpassed by so-called 'modern technology'. Steve Buckel

I remember the chickweed wine episode best. K. J. Ellis

Now for some memories that are short, sweet, and to the point:

Fantastic puppetry.
Part of my childhood.
An absolutely, absolutely marvellous series of programmes.
Best TV- want my grand-daughter to see it.
Rubovia was the start of my passion for animation, especially marionettes.
A wonderful memory from early childhood.
Adored this programme.
A much loved part of my childhood.
This must return.
Wonderful stuff, a BBC classic.
Always my favourite TV programme as a child.

A potpourri of miscellaneous Rubovia memories (abridged): 

King Rufus' most commonly remembered general phrases:
   "Lord Chamberlain!"
   "Where's Weatherspoon?"
   "Ahh, Weatherspoon!"
   "Your move, Chamberlain!"

King Rufus' most commonly remembered replies to Queen Caroline:
   "No my love."
   "Yes my love."
   "Coming, my love!"

I remember poor old Weatherspoon and the King and Lord Chamberlain hiding in the cupboard to play chess.
[ajr —Is this correct? Did they ever play chess, or was it always draughts?] 

King Rufus to Lord Chamberlain, during a game of draughts: "I distinctly saw daylight between the piece and your finger, and I take this and this and this and this, and I've won the game!" 

During games of draughts, King Rufus would say in a sing-song manner, "Your move, Chamberlain!"

From his furious Queen: "Rufus, Rufus, where ARE you?"

Whenever Queen Caroline wanted her pet dragon, she would call in quick succession, "Here, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo Pongo!"

Queen Caroline: "Come along Pongo, Pongopongopongo."

Queen Caroline: "Pongo, Pongo come to Queenie!"

Pongo, Queen Caroline's pampered pet dragon, turned into a cabbage whenever he hiccupped.

King Boris of Borsovia would announce his arrival by loudly saying, "I say!" 

'Tales of Rubovia' was set in a castle at the top of a mountain with sheer sides.

Tales of Rubovia was an early-60's puppet series set in a Ruritanian castle on a mountain-top, featuring, e.g., Pwince Wufus (something which required him to exercise his comical speech-impediment), Weatherspoon the magician, and Queen Caroline (Wufus called her "Cawwy, old gel...") and her pet dragon whom she summoned with, "Here Pongo, Pongo, Pongo...!"

Weatherspoon had a cat, which was always getting in the way and knocking things over, at which he invariably exclaimed, "Doh puss!" (To this day my elder brother says, "Doh puss!" whenever he trips over the cat.)

The King was called Rufus, and the Queen would call his name loudly, and he would always respond in a resigned fashion, "Yes, my love."

"Eat Bottle's turnips."

I still remember the cat pumping the organ for Weatherspoon to play! As well as the Queen calling "Here 
Pongo, Pongo, Pongo!!" The dragon loved peppermint creams.

Weatherspoon: "Oo puss, it's the speaking tube."

Weatherspoon: "Oh! It's the speaking tube, puss."

My favourite technology was the speaking tube!

Weatherspoon: "Pressure up, puss!"

Rubovia featured a gardener called Weatherspoon, and a cat ("Come along, puss.").

What with the costumes and everything, I used to think it was all quite surreal as a kid!

It was full of magic castles, a dragon called Pongo, a wizard and, ooo, all sorts of things like that. 

I can certainly remember Pongo the dragon and someone, perhaps the Queen, calling him over and over again, "Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo!"

Queen Caroline: 'He—ere Pongo Pongopongopongo...!'

Rubovia: One of the magical memories of my childhood.

A newsgroup thread:

What was that puppet programme? I have often wondered if I imagined a puppet programme broadcasted around 1966 or 1967. I have mentioned it to many people of my age but no one seems to remember it. The puppets had wigs and 18th clothing. It might have been set in France. Sand Rabbit

Could it have been Rubovia? I seem to remember it being a bit like that. Gordon Murray puppets. Laurence

Tales of Rubovia. Yes. I have just Googled Rubovia and I found the Whirligig TV website
That's exactly like the image I had in my head. So I am not mad. The programme did exist. Thank you. 
Sand Rabbit

I'm not sure when new episodes stopped being made but I suspect they were still being repeated in the mid '60s, when we saw it. Nine b/w episodes still exist (made between 1958 and 1963) plus the six colour re-makes from 1976. Be good to see them again. What with the costumes and everything, I used to think it was all quite surreal as a kid! —Laurence

Getting back to your earlier reference to Rubovia, it strikes me that the only shows I have remembered from my childhood are those that are very odd—Rubovia, Noggin the Nog, etc.—or those with a lot of vivid action... It would be great to get the early episodes of Rubovia shown on the box again. I found a link to one site where Gordon Murray says he burnt many of his puppets (here). How very sad.
Sand Rabbit

I too have tended to have an interest in many television programmes that are now quite obscure, and virtually impossible to get hold of now. I guess that some of us just have that sort of luck, or maybe we just were not so interested in the run-of-the-mill! ;-)  By the way, although I too am saddened by the destruction of old puppets, having seen what little remains of one of the Telegoon foam latex rubber puppets (which also date from late 1950s, early 1960s), I must say that I'm not surprised that Gordon Murray did what he did. Regarding the Rubovia marionettes, Gordon has said that after ten years they had gone all gooey, and in any case he would have destroyed them as he thinks puppets should be seen working and not hanging up in a static display, slightly the worse for wear. Foam latex is not a permanent material in any sense of the word! Alastair Roxburgh

Another newsgroup thread:

I've tried looking it up in all the History-of-British-TV books, I've asked my contemporaries, I've wondered whether it really happened at all, but wasn't there a marvelous kids' programme in the early sixties called 'The Kingdom of Rubovia'? It was full of magic castles, a dragon called Pongo, a wizard and, ooo, all sorts of things like that. Anyone got any info or golden memories of it?  Rob Kennedy (UK) 1997–04–14

If I recall, it was called 'The Tales of Rubovia'. Another of the characters was Professor Weatherspoon. Maybe he was the wizard? He had a cat, which was always getting in the way and knocking things over, at which the prof. invariably exclaimed, "Doh puss!" It definitely happened. To this day my elder brother says, "Doh puss!" whenever he trips over the cat.  Richard Lamont (UK) 1997–04–15

I can certainly remember Pongo the dragon and someone, perhaps the Queen calling him over and over again "Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo, Pongo!". I think there was another character called The (Lord High?) Chamberlain. But nothing more than that has stuck despite it being a great favourite of mine at the time. I think it was made by one of the usual BBC TV puppet crowd—someone like Gordon Murray—but not necessarily him. I remember a clip being shown on that Beeb2 Sunday morning clips show "Windmill" (the one presented by him out of That's Life)...  Simon Coward (UK) 1997–04–19

I remember this with great affection. I think it was 'Tales of/from Rubovia' but have never seen any reference to it anywhere. The King was called Rufus, and the Queen would call his name loudly, and he would always respond in a resigned fashion "Yes, my love." It featured a gardener called Weatherspoon, and a cat ("Come along, puss"). I can't be sure of the year, but early sixties sounds about right. It could have been late fifties, because I watched it on my Gran's telly, and we didn't have our own set 'til 1964. I remember it because I used to attempt to 'do' all the voices.  —Ian D Wood (UK) 1997–04–15

The programme was just called 'Rubovia'. Made from about 1958 to 1963 until the BBC wantonly disbanded its Children's Department. Created and produced by Gordon Murray with most of the voices by Derek Nimmo. I think it was revived in the 1970s. 
Jeremy Rogers (UK) 1997–04–19

'Tales of Rubovia' was set in a castle at the top of a mountain with sheer sides and featured the domestic dramas of a mad, obviously ferociously inbred, family of Regency aristos. There was the King, Queen Caroline(?) and her pet dragon ('He–ere Pongo Pongo Pongo Pongo...!'), Pwince Wupert, and among the supporting cast Weatherspoon the Magician (with a prototype black-and-white-cat), and an Indian fakir with a Scottish name... In the 70's I saw a plasticene modelling set supposedly of 'Tales of Rubovia', and from the artwork it looked as if it was a remake by the people responsible for Trumpton, C. Green, etc. An abandoned project, or did that version make it to the screen? Does anyone have any other details?
Graham Higgins 1997–06–26 

More memories:

Do you know 'Bunty Bagshawe' (Sarah Kennedy) mentions ' Rubovia' from time to time on her programme on Radio 2—perhaps she might be able to bring some pressure to bear to have a Video/DVD released ? 
Just a thought.
Everson Whittle, UK

I'm sure many will remember Rubovia and 'Yes my love.' And of course—PONGO, Pongo Pongo Pongo Pongo! Happy memories.

Does anyone recall 'Tales of Rubovia'? An early-60's puppet series (strings like harbour hawsers) set in a Ruritanian castle on a mountain-top, featuring, e.g., Pwince Wufus, or Wupert (something which required him to exercise his comical speech-impediment), Weatherspoon the Magician, and Queen Caroline (Wufus called her 'Cawwy, old gel...') and her pet dragon whom she summoned with 'Here Pongo, Pongo, Pongo...!' Some time in the 70's I saw a ToR plasticene modelling kit featuring illustrations on the cover plainly in the style of the Trumpton characters...  Graham Higgins 1998–08–21

We loved this thread, and yes, the later (stop-motion) version of Pongo does indeed resemble a floppy-eared dog:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME! Does anyone suffer from rabid, evanescent hallucinations regarding a children's TV marionette series set (I think!) in the Court of King Charles I?  Amongst its bizarre "cast" of bespoke puppets were a couple of Spaniel dogs one of whom was named "PONGO"; the unfortunate scampering brute has the dubious pleasure of hearing its name called—repeatedly—by some belligerent tiara'd old bag (with a "titled" Duchess/Countess personna): I think the series was shown on ITV early 1970s—please can you help me identify and source lurid photographs to satisfy my uncontrollable addiction? Please email me without delay (no time wasters!) Graham Kern (via TV Lounge)

Hmmmmm... this sounds very like "Rubovia", Gordon Murray's early-mid 1970s remake of his earlier black and white series, only in that Pongo was a dragon (admittedly with very King Charles spaniel-like ears), and the puppets were Trumpton-style creations rather than marionettes. —TJ (via TV Lounge)

GARGANTUAN THANKYOU!!! Thanks for your speedy reply regarding the enigmatic "Pongo" (dog cum dragon stroke chimerical conundrum). With your incisive information and that of the Pinteresque "Mr Turnip" (who also replied to my query, posted on the Whirligig website, and unleashed his powerful website featuring gruesomely evocative photos of King Rufus and his pudgy entourage) I've had a severe Proustian reverie and must lie down now in a state of euphoria and dubious pleasure. So, thankyou. What menacing fun this "Rubovia" is... Thanks! Graham Kern (via TV Lounge)

And finally, here's a selection of Rubovia memories from the Rubovia petition website (abridged): 

Fantastic puppetry.  —Clive Baker

Mr. Murray is a special artist who helped make our childhood that extra bit special. He deserves a knighthood. —Bernard Smyth

Rubovia was the start of my passion for animation, especially marionettes. —Lynn Cox

I loved it when Pongo turned into a cabbage if he sneezed. I have so many happy memories of this show.
—Nicola Lodge-Bruce

My wife and I both remember this programme very fondly and would love to see it again.
Roger Newman-Coburn

Rubovia is still the place I want to Live in. —Lesley England

Those wonderful blow-tube phones!  —Dr. David Jones

Weatherspoon:  And I sow the seeds—so!
King:  So what?
—Brian Yardley

[Weatherspoon:] A pound of yeast, a pound of yeast...
[My] memories of Rubovia are at best fragmentary but the emotions that they evoke are warm and deeply affectionate. Like much work of this period, they speak of what, in clichéd terms, might be described as 'innocence'. All I know is that, at the time, they had me spellbound and entranced. After the blank looks that I invariably receive whenever I mention Rubovia and ask if anyone else remembers it, finding this site is a pure joy. 
—Paul Burke

Where can I buy a speaking tube? 
—Arthur Grey

[My favourite character was] McGregor (the biggest rogue in Rubovia). Wonderful stuff, a BBC classic.

The speaking tube has still not been surpassed by so-called 'modern technology'. —Steve Buckel

Glad to see others remember this programme. Favourite saying "Yes my love"—which I now realise was Derek Nimmo. Thought Weatherspoon's "Speaking Tube" was marvellous.  —Trevor Smith

[Weatherspoon is the] best organist on TV! 
—Robin West

[Weatherspoon is the] best astronomer ever!! 
—Linda West

'Coming, my love!' I remember poor old Weatherspoon and the King and Lord Chamberlain hiding in the cupboard to play chess. 'Rufus, Rufus, where ARE you?' from his furious Queen.  —Alistair Catto

Sarah Kennedy mentioned this on Radio 2 & instantly took me back over 40 years—I thought I had imagined it all! Please release it! 
—D. C. Elliot

[Weatherspoon, remembered as 'the inventor':] Eh puss, it's the speaking tube. —Richard Barnett

How far into the mire we've sunk since then. Rubovia is true reality TV. —Henry Short

Rubovia has to be my strongest memory of 50s television and is certainly my favourite. —Mish Webster

This was the series that gave me my lifelong interest in history.
—Patrick Tierney

The marionettes were much more dramatic than the later stop-motion animation. My memories of seeing Rubovia as a small child are vivid.  —Phyllis Inez

So glad that I've heard the theme and seen the characters again after 47 years.
—Jeremy Richardson

Wasn't Boris of Borsovia great?
—Antony Edwards

The Queen's call of 'pongo, pongo, pongo' has lived with me ever since my childhood...
Simon Ainley

Would love my children to watch these tales—children of the 21st century love fairy tales. 
Maria Murray Brown

Gordon Murray and his team (the Brownfoots, Bura & Hardwick, etc.) contributed so much to children's TV. 
Tony Clark

Just like Bagpuss—a television classic!
Bob Coombes

My favourite program—wonderful interplay between the characters—supplied names for zine, house & ex-cats, etc. (couldn't get permission on kids names though). Favourite technology was the speaking tube!! 
Tony Crouch

Too many "old" programs are not released to the public.
Haydn Davies

A fantastic series—I still remember it with great affection. Come on the BBC get your act together and make up for the inferior offerings kids get these days. After all we do pay the licence fee... 
Alison Ford

A very enjoyable series, which I still remember vividly.
Elaine Ford

These were memorable characters, full of personality and no hint of talking down because it was a children's programme. Well deserving of repeat/release on DVD.
Rosi Hearnshaw

This is a Classic of it's time—MUST see the light of day again! Please BBC, don't let it just fade away...
Paul Hillam

I have only the faintest recollection of Rubovia, but it made a very much stronger impression on my mind than almost anything else on television at the time. I can't say how much I should love to see some of those episodes again. For my money, if the BBC were to produce a video/DVD of Rubovia, it would be by far and away the best thing they could do!
John Gilbert

This series is a cherished memory from my childhood. "It's the speaking tube, puss."  
Tim Harley

We STILL quote "Pressure up Puss"! 
Stephen Bell

I wanted a dragon like Pongo. In fact I still do. Justin Jackson

...Judging by the pictures I have seen so far and being a Gerry Anderson fan it appears to me that Rubovia was far superior to anything Gerry Anderson and Roberta Leigh were doing in 1958. It seems to me that this piece of work has been seriously over looked a travesty that should be corrected.
Keith Jury

This series shows how far ahead Britain was in a particular type of entertainment that appealed (appeals) to both adults and children.
David Kennedy

A wonderful series featuring beautiful marionettes, well ahead of its time.
Nigel Lawton

These programmes are far too important, for a myriad of reasons, to be languishing in some BBC cabinet waiting to be destroyed like so much else of the BBC's early work.
Paul Loosley

The show was brilliant. It will be a cult on DVD.
Cliff Perriam

It was a firm favourite of mine.
George Harry Roberts

Come on BBC, blow the dust of the film cans and make these shows available. It's a crime to keep such treasures hidden in a vault!
Alastair Roxburgh

"Rubovian Legends" was my favourite TV programme, and it has always stayed in my heart.
—Janet Roxburgh

This is the first programme I remember watching as a child—I have never forgotten it and would be delighted to be able to renew my acquaintance with the characters on DVD.
—Carol Smith

Legendary. It should be released on DVD.
—Christopher Starr

I would love to be able to see this prog again. It reminds me of my idyllic childhood.
Pam Taylor

A video of this wonderful series will bring happiness to lots of children, and even more adults! 
—Kathryn Tinling

Whenever the phone rings I turn to our cats and say, "It's the speaking tube, puss." which annoys my wife, but amuses me.
—Anthony Worbey