Roy Skelton, the voice of your childhood


Actor and singer Roy Skelton, best known for voicing puppets George and Zippy in the popular children's television programme Rainbow, has died aged 79.

He was probably unique in the world of childrens entertainment as he both entertained and terrified millions of British kids, as he was also the original voice of Doctor Who's nemesis the Daleks and the Cybermen.

Geoffrey Hayes, who also starred in the show, said: "He really brought Zippy and George to life through his voice."

Most episodes of Rainbow usually involved some kind of squabble between the puppet characters and Geoffrey's attempts to calm them down. Hayes recalled Skelton as being particularly good when Zippy and George were having an argument: "It sounded like he’d double-tracked it as they seemed to be talking over each other. It was a wonderful technique."

Born in July 1931, Roy joined Rainbow in the 1970s and stayed with the popular children's TV show until it came to an end in 1992, and in January 2008, briefly reprised the character Zippy in BBC1 series Ashes to Ashes.

The humour and comic timing of George and Zippy were superb, if perhaps a little surreal for a childrens programme at times! And the voices are burned indelibly into the memory of anyone who grew up in front of the television in the 1970's or 80's.

In March 2006, Rainbow was voted the best TV show of all time, Radio 5's Jane Garvey spoke to the actor.
You can listen to a short clip of that interview here.

Skelton died at his home in Brighton, East Sussex, on 8 June 2011, after suffering a stroke. He is survived by his wife Hilary and his two daughters.