Zoom (1972 TV series)

Zoom (stylized as ZOOM) is a half-hour educational television program, created almost entirely by children, which aired on PBS originally from January 9, 1972, to February 10, 1978. It was originated and produced by WGBH-TV in Boston.[1][2] Inspired by educational shows like Sesame Street and Electric Company, but designed to give the kids who watched it a voice without adults on screen, it was, for the most part, unscripted. Far from seeking to make stars of the child performers, their contracts prohibited them from making any television appearances or doing commercials for three years after they left the show.

Created byChristopher Sarson
Based onBBC's Play School
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes130
Executive producer(s)Christopher Sarson (1972–1974)
Kate Taylor (1975–1978)
Production location(s)Boston, Massachusetts
Camera setupSegments
Production company(s)WGBH-TV
Original networkPBS
Picture formatClosed-Captioned, Color
First shown inUnited States
Original releaseJanuary 9, 1972 (1972-01-09) 
February 10, 1978 (1978-02-10)
Followed byZoom (1999 series)
Related showsZoom (1999 series)


Zoom encouraged children to "turn off the TV and do it!" On the show, a cast of seven kids (ten in Season 4) known as Zoomers presented various activities such as games, plays, poems, recipes, jokes, songs, movies, science experiments, and informal chats on subjects such as hospitals, prejudice, etc., all suggested by viewer contributions. These activities were introduced by such titles as Zoomovie, Zoom Play of the Week, Zoomrap (later Zoomchat), Zoomgame, Zoomdo, Zoomgoody, Zoomphenomenon, etc.

The mail-in request became a pop culture reference for its musical exhortation to "Write Zoom, Z-double-O-M, Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4: send it to Zoom!". The lines were mostly spoken, but the ZIP code was sung.

The program featured its own language, Ubbi-Dubbi, where the syllable "ub" was added before each vowel sound in each syllable of each word ("H-ub-i, fr-ub-iends," etc.). For the first two seasons, a word game called "Fannee Doolee" was featured, in which a series of statements about the titular character were presented to the audience without further explanation (e.g., "Fannee Doolee likes sweets, but hates candy"). It was eventually revealed that Fannee Doolee loved all words with double letters and hated all words without them.

Each show had one or two Zoomguest sequences, short film documentaries about children with special talents (singing, tap-dancing, instrument-making, etc.) or interesting hobbies or jobs. The premiere episode featured a boy who built a boat by making a ring of sticks and twigs and covering them with a tarpaulin.

In the show's first two seasons, Tracy hosted a "Tracy Asks..." sequence in which she asked a question, e.g., "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" or "What is the world's longest word?", and local children were filmed giving their answers. The first season had "quickie" comedy routines modeled after Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

The performers in the original series were known for wearing striped rugby shirts and jeans. In Seasons 1 and 2 the cast performed barefoot but wore shoes from Season 3 on.

The first Zoom series lasted six seasons (19721978) and featured 49 Zoomers. During the second & third seasons, cast members were transitioned with a catchy production number that introduced the new cast members to the continuing cast members. The same song was used for each transition ("How do ya do do-dee-do, how do ya do-dee-do-dee-do, how's your sister, how's your brother, how are you?"). In the last three seasons, entirely new casts were used.

Several episodes were available with captions for the hearing-impaired.


Season 1 (1972)

  • Joe Shrand
  • Nina Lillie
  • Kenny Pires
  • Tracy Tannebring
  • Tommy White
  • Nancy Tates
  • Jon Reuning

Season 2 (1972–1973)

  • Maura Mullaney
  • Kenny Pires
  • Ann Messer
  • David Alberico
  • Nancy Tates
  • Jay Schertzer
  • Tracy Tannebring
  • Luiz Gonzales
  • Bernadette Yao
  • Leon Mobley
  • Edith Mooers
  • Lori Boskin
  • Danny McGrath
  • Neal Johnson

Season 3 (1973–1974)

  • Danny McGrath
  • Edith Mooers
  • Mike Dean
  • Rose Clarkow
  • Hector Dorta
  • Donna Moore
  • Timmy Pruce
  • Shawna "Shawn" Miranda
  • Lori Boskin
  • Neal Johnson
  • Danny Malloy

Season 4 (1974–1975)

  • Harvey Reed
  • Tishy Flaherty
  • David "Red" O'Brien
  • Cate Wadsworth
  • Norman Christian
  • Tracey Dunlap
  • Tommy Schultz
  • Carmen Hernandez
  • David Azzoto
  • Andrae Neilsan

Season 5 (1976)

  • Chris Blackwell
  • Jennifer Gold
  • Ron Richmond
  • Arcadio Gonzales
  • Karen Wing
  • Levell Gethers
  • Nell Cox

Season 6 (1977–1978)

  • Amy Clark
  • John Lathan
  • Carolyn Malcolm
  • Nicholas Butterworth
  • Shona de Nile
  • Chee Kim
  • Susan Wolf

Some PBS stations continued to broadcast reruns of the series until September 12, 1980.


In 1974, A&M Records released an album of songs from the show titled Come on and Zoom (LP OCLC 3060311; cassette OCLC 18900529), featuring cast members from the second season. The catalogue number of the album was SP-3402 (213 402 under the PolyGram system).

In 1973, the cast members from the first season came out with an album called Playgrounds (LP OCLC 3399239) that was available by mail order.

There were two books published for children that were based on the 1970s Zoom series:

  • The Zoom Catalog (ISBN 0394825322), published by Random House in 1972, was a collection of stories, poems, plays, jokes and activities from the show, featuring the second cast.
  • Do a Zoomdo, published by Little Brown in 1975, featured activities from the show.

In 1997, WGBH released the video and book set Best of the 70s and Zoomers Revisited — Where Are They Now? (ISBN 1578072077).

In 2008, WGBH released a two DVD set Zoom Back to the '70s. The first DVD was a reissue of Best of the 70s, with extras consisting of behind the scenes stills set to the theme song and a 10-question quiz asking what a few of the cast members are doing today. The second DVD consisted of four episodes from the 1970s series.

See also


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