TV… Recalling Geoffrey Hayes, A Great Presenter from Children’s 1970s ITV

 

Remembering the presenter from Rainbow…

 

Recalling the Groovy Geoffrey Hayes, another childhood favourite.

 

Rainbow’s most hard-hitting episode, Sooz Kempner
 

I was sad to hear of the passing of another legend from my childhood, Geoffrey Hayes. For the benefit for those who haven’t a clue of who he is and what he did, Hayes presented the British childhood favourite, Rainbow (1973-94). He also appeared as a regular in Z Cars (1968-74) when I was a baby to a toddler. So expect a post on his more children friendly appearance in Rainbow...

The original series theme tune was sung by Music for Pleasure and accompanied by a wonderful 1970s colour cartoon. This particular theme tune, I was saddened to learn was sadly updated in time as time went by. But arguably the version I was brought up with in the 1970s was the best. The programme remit was “to develop language and social skills” for children, with Hayes as a lovely, gentle presenter who explained things to you in his warm, avuncular way. Not patronising like some not mentioned, or downright scary like others.

Hayes appeared in Rainbow alongside a man in a bear suit, Bungle and two ambiguous looking puppets. The puppets are kinda best described as a kinda cynical and shy pink hippo called George and an unknown but garrulous orange-ish and earless animal with a zip for a mouth, called Zippy.

The latter puppet was reportedly this colour in honour of Hayes favourite football team, Dundee United. This was due to Hayes living in Dundee in the 1960s. On a random note (or two) Zippy and George were voiced at one time by Roy Skelton aka the voice of the Daleks and the Cybermen in Doctor Who (1963). Bungle’s identity revealed as another favourite from this show, the man who voiced K9… John Leeson.

Rainbow usually involved Hayes as a peacekeeper to his animal friends as usually, a wee squabble between them broke out. With his calm and soothing voice, he placated them – he was probably the envy of most mothers with three or more children – and with time peace reigned. The show usually discussed a theme within the show. There were a story and animation accompanying their antics surrounding the theme, and so the series appealed to every one of a certain age in some way.

This famous foursome was accompanied by songs from Rod, Jane and Freddy. When I was a kid Rod, Jane and Freddy were then Rod, Jane and Matt.. with Matt being Sooty and Sweep’s presenter from The Sooty Show (1968-92) Matthew Corbett. But back to Hayes.

His crazy colourful jumpers and non-patronising way of being easily made him one of my childhood favourite presenters. The Rainbow series lasted from 1972 to 1997, and in total 1071 episodes. He’s a presenter Darlin Husband and I both grew up with (and I’ll admit I watched when off school as a kinda early guilty pleasure!)

Like Brian Cant dominated Children’s BBC, Hayes was synonymous with Children’s ITV. I’ll admit I didn’t watch that many ITV Childrens’ programmes as a kid. As I preferred the likes of Crackerjack (1965-84), Blue Peter (1958-), Rentaghost (1976-84) and Grange Hill (1978-2008) on the BBC. So Hayes and his motley crew where the exception rather than the rule.

More recently Hayes appeared in a campaign about those monster sized crisps and in Tony Christie and  Peter Kay’s no 1 single The Road to Amarillo. This a number 1 hit that has the dubious claim to fame of having many a childhood memory in it from Hayes to Bernie Clifton and Ronnie Corbett to Keith Harris. But for me, I’ll always remember Geoffrey Hayes as a legend of Children’s ITV Lunchtime and as a man of many colours – and not just talking those jumpers – in Rainbow.

 

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