Rainbow star Geoffrey Hayes has been thanked for his impact on a generation of children following his death at the age of 76.
The actor and TV presenter was best known for hosting the long-running children’s show featuring cuddly puppets Zippy, George and Bungle, having appeared in more than 1,000 episodes between 1974 and 1992.
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.”
Hayes played the long-suffering adult character, guardian and upholder of the peace in the colourful 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.”
Fans of Hayes and Rainbow shared tributes on Twitter, thanking him for his presence in their younger years.
Radio broadcaster Tony Shepherd 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 also had a recurring role in drama series Z Cars in the early 1970s as Detective Constable Scatliff, and in recent years appeared on programmes including Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Pointless Celebrities.