The death of Geoffrey Hayes, who hosted long running children’s programme Rainbow, was confirmed today prompting an outpouring of emotion on social media from fans paying tribute to the ‘childhood legend’.
The actor, who was famed for presenting the show from 1973 to 1992, died in hospital from pneumonia.
Upon hearing the news of his death, one fan tweeted: ‘Goodbye to yet another part of our childhood,’ while another added simply: ‘Thank you for painting the whole world with a rainbow.’
Comedian Jem Roberts said: ‘I’d just like to thank Geoffrey Hayes for looking after us all so wonderfully. And so would my Mum.’
Geoffrey’s co-stars Zippy, George and Bungle were the much-loved friends of generations of youngsters who would eagerly tune into to ITV’s hit show to catch up on their adventures.
But children who grew up in the 1970s, 80s and 90s may not be aware of the real-life faces behind the popular puppets.
What became of Zippy, George and Bungle? Puppeteers behind Geoffrey’s furry co-stars and their diverse post-Rainbow careers
The show’s large brown furry bear, Bungle, was played by various actors, but chiefly Stanley Bates from 1973 to 1988. Other actors who stepped into the suit went on to varied careers including appearances on BBC’s The Voice and in pantomime. One even went on to become a magistrate while another of the actors appeared on the other side of the court, when he was arrested over a road rage incident.
Paul Cullinan, who played large furry bear Bungle in Rainbow, appeared on The Voice in 2015 (pictured)
In 2015, one of the characters from the cult children’s show made an unexpected TV comeback on BBC talent show The Voice.
Child’s entertainer Paul Cullinan, who played large furry bear Bungle in the classic ITV series, reappeared on TV for the first time in almost 25 years as a contestant on the singing show.
When he revealed to judges that he has previously starred on Rainbow, just one of the four knew what he was talking about.
It fell to Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson to explain to his fellow judges – will.i.am, Rita Ora and Sir Tom Jones – that he was ‘a slightly camp bear called Bungle’.
Cullinan was the last of three actors to play Bungle in the hit show.
Malcolm Lord, who worked on Rainbow from 1980 to 1989, most recently performed on stage in Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Calendar Girls.
Today, he is actively involved in his local community in Shropshire.
Geoffrey Hayes with Bungle the Bear, pictured in 1981
Malcolm Lord, who worked on Rainbow from 1980 to 1989, most recently performed on stage in Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Calendar Girls
Stanley Bates, who played Bungle from 1973 to 1988, was bound over to keep the peace by magistrates in 2001 after appearing on a charge of assaulting a mother in a ‘road rage’ incident.
At the time of the court case Bates, now 75, was said to have become a self-employed lighting manufacturer.
John Leeson is best known for voicing K-9 in Doctor Who in the 1970s and 1980s.
He played Bungle for 50 episodes in 1972. He has since voiced the character again in various spin-offs, and has also served as a magistrate.
Stanley Bates (left) played Bungle from 1973 to 1988 while John Leeson (right) played Bungle for 50 episodes in 1972
Zippy and George
Policeman’s son Peter Hawkins played the role of Zippy and also voiced the Daleks in Doctor Who.
But Hawkins was perhaps most well-known for his gibberish language in Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men.
He died aged 82 in July 2006.
Roy Skelton, who played both Zippy and George, also coincidentally voiced the Daleks in Doctor Who from 1967 to 1988, as well as the Cybermen and the Krotons.
He also wrote many of the scripts for Rainbow. Skelton died in June 2011 aged 79.
Zippy – The puppet for a zip for a mouth was played by Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton
Policeman’s son Peter Hawkins played the role of Zippy and also voiced the Daleks in Doctor Who
George and Zippy: Roy Skelton, who played both Zippy and George, also wrote many of the scripts for Rainbow. Skelton died in June 2011 aged 79
George the eyelash-batting pink hippo and Zippy in 2005’s spin-off, ‘Zippy and George’s Puppet Legends’
The other Rainbow presenter
David Cook presented the first and second series of Rainbow. He went on to write two novels about a boy with learning disabilities called Walter.
He died in September 2015 aged 74.
David Cook presented the first and second series of Rainbow. He went on to write two novels about a boy with learning disabilities called Walter. He died in September 2015 aged 74
The singing trio
Rod Burton, Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks appeared on Rainbow before landing their own spin-off show.
Rod, Jane And Freddy composed and sang hundreds of songs for the programme and their spin-off show The Rod, Jane And Freddy Show, which ran from 1981-1991.
The trio continued to perform in guest appearances on various TV shows and in pantomimes over the years.
Jane Tucker, Rod Burton and Matthew Corbett with Geoffrey Hayes and Bungle in 1972
Originally Jane and Rod were in a group called Rod, Matt And Jane with Matthew Corbett, but he left in 1976 to take over The Sooty Show after his father Harry retired.
At the time, Jane and Rod were married but divorced in 1979 and managed to remain on good terms.
Five years later, Jane and Freddy started dating, which sparked rumours of a secret love triangle between the singing trio – something all three vociferously denied, insisting they remained good friends.
In 2016 Freddy and Jane finally got married before celebrating at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair.
Rod, Jane and Freddy with Geoffrey Hayes, Zippy, George and Bungle in 1995