Geoffrey Hayes, who hosted long-running children’s programme Rainbow, has died aged 76.
The actor, who was famed for presenting the show from 1973 to 1992, died in hospital from pneumonia with his wife and son by his side.
The news was confirmed by his manager today prompting an outpouring of emotion on social media from fans paying tribute to the ‘childhood legend’ and many writing simply, ‘thank you.’
Speaking shortly after his 76th birthday earlier this year, the actor revealed he was still ‘humbled’ to be recognised by Rainbow fans, adding: ‘We loved doing it; I certainly did. Twenty years of happiness, it really was.’
Geoffrey Hayes with Rainbow characters, Bungle, George and Zippy. He appeared alongside the cuddly puppets in more than 1,000 episodes of Rainbow from 1974 until 1992
In 2015 Geoffrey appeared on Celebrity Pointless alongside former Tiswas presenter Sally James
The actor, who shot to fame presenting the show from 1973 to 1992, died in hospital
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.’
The outpouring of grief continued as another fan added: ‘Hope he knew how important he was in the childhood of many people. A ray of light for an otherwise unhappy child.’
Hayes also had a recurring role in drama series Z Cars in the early 1970s
Comedian Jem Roberts said: ‘I’d just like to thank Geoffrey Hayes for looking after us all so wonderfully. And so would my Mum.’
Hayes appeared alongside cuddly puppets Zippy, George and Bungle in more than 1,000 episodes of Rainbow from 1974 until 1992, having taken over from original host David Cook.
He played the long-suffering adult character, guardian and upholder of the peace in the hallucinogenic Rainbow house on the show, which aired several nights a week to children across the UK.
In 2002, Hayes, who struggled to find work after Rainbow was cancelled, said the secret to the programme’s enduring popularity was that it was full of ‘magic, innocence and imagination’.
He said: ‘Practically all the time people come up to me and it really breaks me up because they thank me for being part of their childhood.
‘It makes me want to cry sometimes.’
In a 2015 interview, Hayes said he would ‘always be grateful’ for his role on Rainbow.
The news was confirmed by his manager today and social media is awash with an outpouring of grief from fans paying tribute to the ‘childhood legend’
Fellow presenter Gareth Jones appeared with Hayes on Pointless Celebrities and was among those who paid tribute to the Rainbow star today
Geoffrey Hayes, pictured here with Zippy from Rainbow, passed away at the age of 76
In a 2015 interview, Hayes said he would ‘always be grateful’ for his role on Rainbow
Hayes told the Express in 2015 he got the role simply by ‘being in the right place at the right time.’
He added: ‘It sounded interesting, so I knocked on his door and got an audition. I was a jobbing actor with no experience of kids’ TV but, thankfully, I got the job.’
The star also revealed he ‘loved working on Rainbow and couldn’t wait to get into the studio.’
He told the Express: ‘Other actors thought me mad because I never minded coming in on days off to rehearse. Classed as a pre-school programme, it meant my wages were at the lower end of the pay scale.
‘I never earned vast amounts, but at least it was a regular income for 20 years, even if it didn’t make me a millionaire.’
After the show ended Hayes went on to work as a taxi driver and worked two nights a week shelf-stacking in his local Sainsbury’s.
Hayes said the secret to the programme’s enduring popularity was that it was full of ‘magic, innocence and imagination’
In a 2015 interview, Hayes said he would ‘always be grateful’ for his role on Rainbow
BBC channel CBeebies also paid tribute to the star, whose show ran on ITV until 1997
Former Newsround presenter Lizo Mzimba was among those honouring Hayes on Twitter
Hayes also had a recurring role in drama series Z Cars in the early 1970s, and appeared on programmes including Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Pointless Celebrities alongside former Tiswas presenter Sally James in 2015.
Hayes died in hospital from pneumonia with his wife Sarah and son Tom by his side, his manager Phil Dale said.
Mr Dale added: ‘The family would like to express their thanks to the many fans over the years as it always gave Geoffrey so much pleasure to know that he and his Rainbow team had given so much fun to TV and theatre audiences over the years.’
Fans of Hayes and Rainbow who shared tributes on Twitter, thanking him for his presence in their younger years, include radio broadcaster Tony Shepherd who tweeted: ‘Goodbye to yet another part of our childhood.’
TV hypnotist Chris Hughes wrote: ‘Goodbye to yet another part of my childhood. Zippy Bungle & George will be lost without you! Paint the whole world with a rainbow #rainbow.’
One fan said they were a ‘little bit heartbroken’ to hear of Hayes’s death, adding: ‘Rainbow gave me hours of endless fun as a child. I refused to stay school dinners in primary school because it would cut in on my Rainbow viewing! Another part of my childhood gone.’
‘This is so sad, another face from our childhood, Rainbow presenter Geoffrey Hayes has passed away. Thanks for giving this 80s kid some great memories,’ another said.
Hayes with Zippy, George and Bungle, at Christie’s in South Kensington, to promote the TV Generation Auction
Fans have today paid tribute and thanked the late presenter for providing them with entertainment throughout their younger years
After the long-running series ended, Hayes enjoyed a stint in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk alongside EastEnders star Shane Richie.
He also worked a taxi driver and in 2005 featured in Peter Kay’s Comic Relief version of Is This the Way to Amarillo.
Speaking about stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s, Hayes told The Express: ‘I didn’t do it for the money – it was just that I’d been out of work for five months and was hanging around the house becoming a pain.’
Speaking after his 76th birthday earlier this year, the actor told What’s On Tv magazine that he was still recognised for Rainbow.
He said ‘It’s so humbling, even now, all these years later somebody occasionally stops me in the street or the supermarket and talks about Rainbow. We loved doing it; I certainly did. Twenty years of happiness, it really was.’
What became of Zippy, George and Bungle? Puppeteers behind Geoffrey’s furry co-stars and their diverse post-Rainbow careers
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.