Rainbow star Freddy Marks dies aged 71


Rainbow star Freddy Marks, who was part of the singing trio on the iconic children’s TV show, has died aged 71.

The tragedy comes just five years after the British musician married co-star Jane Tucker.

Along with Rod Burton, the trio were a popular hit on TV screens in the 1970s to the 1990s as they made catchy tunes for children. 

They also starred in their own spin-off series, The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show, from 1981 to 1991. 

Freddy’s cause of death is not yet known. 

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

Freddy's death comes just five years after he married his Rainbow co-star Jane Tucker

Freddy’s death comes just five years after he married his Rainbow co-star Jane Tucker

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

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

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.

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.

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.

Five years later, Jane and Freddy started dating, which sparked rumours of 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.

She said: ‘Rod and I were married and then we got divorced.

‘That’s it basically. Some years later when Freddy joined, Freddy and I hooked up together.’

'Rainbow' starred Rod Burton, Jane Tucker, George, Bungle, Zippy, Geoffrey Hayes and Freddy Marks (bottom-right)

‘Rainbow’ starred Rod Burton, Jane Tucker, George, Bungle, Zippy, Geoffrey Hayes and Freddy Marks (bottom-right)

Rod Burton, Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks also featured in 'The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show'

Rod Burton, Jane Tucker and Freddy Marks also featured in ‘The Rod, Jane and Freddy Show’

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

A fan group post said: 'Freddy was a very talented and funny guy who always bought a smile to everybody's face'

A fan group post said: ‘Freddy was a very talented and funny guy who always bought a smile to everybody’s face’

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

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.’ 

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  

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)

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

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 

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. 

Stanley Bates

John Leeson

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

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.

Zippy - The puppet for a zip for a mouth was played by Peter Hawkins and Roy Skelton 

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

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

George the eyelash-batting pink hippo and Zippy in 2005's spin-off, 'Zippy and George's Puppet Legends'

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 

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.

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