Jane’s words to husband Freddy: Wife whispered ‘I love you’ as Rainbow star, 71, lost cancer battle


Jane Tucker, the wife and co-star of Rainbow’s Freddy Marks, told MailOnline today her final words to him were: ‘I love you,’ seconds before her lost a battle against cancer on the eve of their 5th wedding anniversary.

Freddy, 71, died in Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey on May 20 after being admitted just four days earlier. He was diagnosed with cancer in January and told that he had only months to live.

Jane married Freddy in 2016 years after divorcing bandmate Rod Burton, the third member of the singing trio ‘Rod, Jane and Freddy’ on the beloved children’s TV show, and Ms Tucker has said that her ex-husband is also bereft and they have been mourning together.

Fighting back tears, Jane Tucker, who married Freddy only five years ago, told MailOnline: ‘My final words to him were “I love you”. But Freddy didn’t say anything back, he just had a gentle smile on his face like he always did. It was incredibly beautiful. I’m totally devastated by his loss and it’s going to take me and a lot of other people in the country a long time to get over this’.

And in a message for heartbroken fans she said ‘Freddy was a part of many people’s childhoods; they grew up with him and he meant a lot to them.’

Jane revealed that she was with Freddy, day and night throughout his final four days at the hospice. She added: ‘The atmosphere there was so peaceful and beautiful. The staff are like angels, they looked after Freddy and me so wonderfully. There are no words to describe what they did for us.

‘I was with him for every single minute of those four days. His passing was a very peaceful and beautiful moment.’

Jane revealed that she spent the whole of Thursday being consoled by Rainbow’s other presenter, Rod Burton, who she was previously married to until an amicable split.

She sobbed: ‘Rod is feeling Freddy’s loss very deeply. For a long time, the three of us were inseparable. We toured together, did Rainbow for a long time and were all very close. 

Rainbow star Freddy Marks (right with his later wife Jane), who was part of the singing trio on the iconic children’s TV show, has died aged 71

Jane (centre) married Freddy (right) in 2016 years after divorcing bandmate Rod Burton (left), the third member of the singing trio 'Rod, Jane and Freddy'

Jane (centre) married Freddy (right) in 2016 years after divorcing bandmate Rod Burton (left), the third member of the singing trio ‘Rod, Jane and Freddy’

Freddy's death comes just five years after he married his Rainbow co-star Jane Tucker, at a small and surprise ceremony in west London

Freddy’s death comes just five years after he married his Rainbow co-star Jane Tucker, at a small and surprise ceremony in west London

Freddy Marks (bottom-right) starred in 'Rainbow' with future wife Jane Tucker (top-left) as well as Rod Burton (bottom-left), Geoffrey Hayes (top-right) and George, Bungle and Zippy. Jane was married to Rod in the 1970s

Freddy Marks (bottom-right) starred in ‘Rainbow’ with future wife Jane Tucker (top-left) as well as Rod Burton (bottom-left), Geoffrey Hayes (top-right) and George, Bungle and Zippy. Jane was married to Rod in the 1970s

Freddy Marks, pictured with co-stars Jane Tucker and Rod Burton, has died aged 71

Freddy Marks, pictured with co-stars Jane Tucker and Rod Burton, has died aged 71

‘Both Rod and I still processing his death. He came to visit me on Thursday and spent the whole day with me and there were a lot of tears.

‘I may be putting on a bit of brave face by speaking to you but inside I’m heart broken and can barely hold it together. Freddy was everything to me. And he also meant a lot to Rod.’

How Freddy found love with Rainbow co-star Jane after her divorce from Rod at height of fame

In 2016, Freddy and Jane wed over a bank holiday weekend before celebrating at Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair - 30 years after finding love on screen

In 2016, Freddy and Jane wed over a bank holiday weekend before celebrating at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair – 30 years after finding love on screen

They found love over 30 years ago while co-starring on hit children TV series Rainbow.

And five years ago this weekend, popular 80s singers Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks finally tied the knot in London.

Freddy and Jane, both 66 then, wed over the Bank Holiday Weekend before celebrating at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair.

Sadly Freddy died days before their fifth wedding anniversary. 

The news was announced on Jane’s Facebook page, with actress Denise Welch quick to congratulate the pair on Twitter.   

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.  

Despite the unusual relationship, Rod, Jane And Freddy continued to perform in guest appearances on various TV shows and in pantomimes over the years. 

Jane recalled meeting Freddy for the first time when he came to audition for Rainbow adding that her abiding memory of him after his death is how much he loved her.

She added: ‘It’s his smile that I most remember from that audition. But my eternal memory of Freddy will be the deep love he had for me. He could never have done enough for me and spent his whole life making me happy.’

Recalling their wedding day in 2016 at London’s luxury Claridge’s hotel she said: ‘We had already been together for a long time but just wanted to give our friends and family a knees up.’    

The couple also starred in their own spin-off series, The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show, from 1981 to 1991, but it was Freddy’s relationship with Jane that captured the imagination in more recent years.

Freddy married her five years ago, more than 30 years after they first met and became stars. Jane was first married to fellow Rainbow bandmate Rod, who she divorced in 1979 but they remained friends. ‘Years later’ she began dating Freddy, which when it emerged around 15 years ago led to rumours a secret love triangle between the singing trio. 

In an interview in 2008, Jane explained there was a big gap between her marriage to Rod and her subsequent relationship with Freddy, and denied it caused any problems in their band. 

She said: ‘Rod and I were married and then we got divorced. Some years later when Freddy joined, Freddy and I hooked up together.’ Explaining it from his perspective, Freddy said: ‘Rod and Jane had been divorced long before I actually joined the series. So with all the will in the world it was very difficult to make a menage a trois out of something that didn’t exist.’

Rainbow, launched in 1972 as the UK’s answer to Sesame Street, ran for 27 series and 1,071 episodes watched by millions of British children each week until it was axed in 1992. Its three main characters were Bungle the teddy bear, George the hippopotamus and naughty puppet Zippy along with host Geoffrey Hayes, but it also made Rod, Jane and Freddy household names. 

The trio composed and sang hundreds of songs for the programme and continued to perform in guest appearances on various TV shows and in pantomimes over the years afterwards.

The news was announced in a post on a Rainbow Facebook fan group saying: ‘It is with a heavy heart that we sad to say that ‘Freddy Marks’ from Rod, Jane and Freddy has sadly passed away yesterday.

‘Freddy was a very talented and funny guy who always bought a smile to everybody’s face.

‘Our thoughts go out to his wife Jane Tucker, Rod Burton and all their friends and family at this difficult time. Freddy will be greatly missed.’ 

In 2016, Freddy and Jane wed over a bank holiday weekend before celebrating at Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair – 30 years after finding love on screen.

Friends and former colleagues of Rainbow star Freddy Marks have paid tribute to the performer following the announcement of his death, and said Rod, Jane and Freddy were mature about their unusual 

Tom Edwards, an in-vision continuity announcer on Thames TV told MailOnline: ‘Somehow the Rainbow doesn’t seem so bright today.’

Mr Marks, who was 71, was part of the singing trio ‘Rod, Jane and Freddy’ on the beloved children’s TV show Rainbow.

His death comes just five years after the British musician married co-star Jane Tucker, who along with her ex-husband Rod Burton, were cult heroes writing catchy songs for the show that ran on ITV from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Freddy’s cause of death is not yet known, with his wife Jane mourning his loss today. The couple also starred in their own spin-off series, The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show, from 1981 to 1991, but it was Freddy’s relationship with Jane that captured the imagination in more recent years.

Freddy married her five years ago, 30 years after they first met and became stars, when she was married to fellow Rainbow bandmate Rod, forcing them to deny rumours of a secret love triangle between the singing trio. 

Mr Edwards, 76, who introduced programmes on air for much of the 1980s, said: ‘It was an unusual arrangement, but I just think they were all very grown-up about it.

‘A lot of people in TV just do their jobs and go home afterwards, but the three of them were clearly very close to each other.

‘This is such sad news for anyone who worked with Freddy, but for Jane of course, she’s lost her husband.

‘I introduced Rainbow so many times I lost count, and it ran for many years with Geofrey Hayes keeping George, Zippy and Bungle out of trouble…and the musical part of this fun show was from Rod ,Jane and Freddy.

‘I always felt the adults enjoyed this daily show almost as much as their children. It also became popular with young audiences around the world and as far as New Zealand.

‘They usually had a well-known guest to read a story in the middle of the show and I was honoured one week to be asked to do it.

‘It all worked wonderfully well as both cast and crew knew how to do a good performance. ‘

Mr Edwards said the backstage team at Thames TV always looked forward to Christmas tapes the Rainbow team would compile of bloopers and ripe language from the presenters.

‘They were hilarious, but of course they’d never be shown to the public,’ he said.

‘Rod Jane and Freddy all had wonderful voices. I can’t believe Freddy’s gone — Somehow the “Rainbow” doesn’t seem so very bright today.’

Puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew, who was the voice of Zippy, also remembered Freddy Marks fondly.

‘Like so many people who knew and loved Freddy, I’m shocked and stunned by his passing.’

Mr Le Drew, 77, author of Zippy and Me: My Life Inside Britain’s Most Infamous Puppet, added: ‘I had the pleasure of working with him for many years as part of the Rainbow cast.

‘He was kind, funny and totally down to earth – what you saw on screen was the real Freddy. He showed kindness and friendship to everyone he met. What a talented trio of actor musicians. RIP Freddy and condolences to Jane and all of Freddy’s family.’  

Rod Burton, Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks also featured in 'The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show' (pictured left to right)

Rod Burton, Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks also featured in ‘The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show’ (pictured left to right)

The trio were a hit on TV screens from the 1970s to the 1990s, making catchy tunes for children

The trio were a hit on TV screens from the 1970s to the 1990s, making catchy tunes for children

Jane, who was previously married to Rod, eventually started dating Freddy, which sparked rumours of a secret love triangle between the singing trio

Jane, who was previously married to Rod, eventually started dating Freddy, which sparked rumours of a secret love triangle between the singing trio

Rainbow was watched by millions of children up and down the country during the 1970s, 80s and 90s

Rainbow was watched by millions of children up and down the country during the 1970s, 80s and 90s

Some of the Rainbow cast and the puppets, including (pictured l-r) Jane Tucker, George, Rod Burton, Zippy, Bungle and Geoffrey Hayes

Some of the Rainbow cast and the puppets, including (pictured l-r) Jane Tucker, George, Rod Burton, Zippy, Bungle and Geoffrey Hayes

Originally Jane and Rod Burton 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.

Freddy was hailed as a hero after saving Bill Oddie from certain death after being swept away on Seychelles holiday 

Freddy Marks talked about saving Bill Oddie’s life on This Is Your Life in 2002, thanks to his previous work as a lifeguard.

His partner Jane Tucker also appeared on the sh In 1985 the Bill Oddie story almost came to a dramatic end. 

Bill and Laura were on Bird Island in the Seychelles when Bill got caught in a current between two reefs whilst swimming. 

With them on the trip were Freddy Marks and Jane Tucker from children’s singing combo Rod, Jane and Freddy and fortunately for Bill, Freddy had once been a lifesaver. 

Freddy: ‘I swam out to him and just as I reached him I said “For God’s sake don’t grab me” and of course when I got in range he grabbed me by the throat and pulled me under. We were drowning at that point…’ 

Freddy then used  all his strength to drag him to shore.   

Bill said it put him off swimming, adding: ‘Not that I could ever swim to start with or I would have swam back’. 

At the time, Jane and Rod were married but divorced in 1979 and managed to remain on good terms.

Matthew was replaced by Roger Walker, who was later replaced by Freddy, when he joined the Rainbow cast in 1980. 

Freddy added: ‘Rod and Jane had been divorced long before I actually joined the series. So with all the will in the world it was very difficult to make a menage a trois out of something that didn’t exist.’

Rod, Jane And Freddy composed and sang hundreds of songs for Rainbow and their spin-off show The Rod, Jane And Freddy Show, which ran from 1981-1991.

However, the trio continued to perform in guest appearances on various TV shows and in pantomimes over the years.

It comes less than three years after Geoffrey Hayes, who hosted the long-running programme, 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 in 2018.

The news was confirmed by his manager at the time and prompted an outpouring of emotion on social media from fans paying tribute to the ‘childhood legend’ with many writing simply, ‘thank you.’  

In 2019 a puppeteer who operated cult character Zippy, the show’s bad boy, on Rainbow until was cancelled in 1992, lifted the lid on what went on behind the scenes on the show. 

Ronnie Le Drew’s tell-all memoir, called Zippy and Me, was billed as shattering the innocence of the hit show, often described as Britain’s answer to Sesame Street. 

Le Drew, a former debt collector who took over controlling Zippy from Violet Philpott after she suffered a slipped disk, has revealed the sexism backstage and also the culture of heavy drinking.

He claimed that the show’s star singer, Jane, had the nickname ‘Miss Whiplash’ because she would open her coat to show a ‘leather S&M outfit’ and would ask Zippy to ‘play with her maracas.’

In one incident an archbishop was being given a tour of Thames Television’s studios and stumbled across the team laughing with ‘Zippy mounted upon George, going at it hammer and tongs.’

There was also a strong culture of heavy drinking within the group who would often ‘get lashed’ and turn up drunk to rehearsals, said Le Drew.

There were also tensions in the cast, as the host Geoffrey Hayes could at times be jealous of his puppet co-stars.

‘Geoffrey was afraid of being upstaged by Zippy and George’, remarked Mr Le Drew. The presenter was also annoyed the trio of puppets received more fan mail than he did.

What became of Zippy, George and Bungle and the rest of the Rainbow stars? The faces behind iconic TV show and their diverse careers away from the series

The death of Geoffrey Hayes, who hosted long running children’s programme Rainbow, was confirmed in 2018 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. 

Bungle  

Paul Cullinan, who played large furry bear Bungle in Rainbow, appeared on The Voice in 2015 (pictured)

Paul Cullinan, who played large furry bear Bungle in Rainbow, appeared on The Voice in 2015 (pictured)

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 

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 

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.  

Malcolm Lord, who worked on Rainbow from 1980 to 1989, most recently performed on stage in Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Calendar Girls

Malcolm Lord, who worked on Rainbow from 1980 to 1989, most recently performed on stage in Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Calendar Girls

Stanley Bates

John Leeson

Stanley Bates (left) played Bungle from 1973 to 1988 while John Leeson (right) played Bungle for 50 episodes in 1972

Stanley Bates 

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 

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. 

Zippy and George

Peter Hawkins 

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 

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

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 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 

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

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

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.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk