British voice artist Roy Skelton dies at age 79

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Roy Skelton, a voice artist and actor from the United Kingdom, has died at the age of 79. Skelton was known for providing the voices of George and Zippy in the ITV children's television programme Rainbow. He voiced the two characters from around 1970 until 1992, when the programme's run concluded. Skelton also voiced the Daleks in the BBC television series Doctor Who between 1967 and 1988.

Geoffrey Hayes, a presenter of Rainbow, described Skelton as an actor who "really brought Zippy and George to life through his voice" and was "fabulous at improvising if something went wrong" during the programme. Speaking to the BBC, Hayes noted: "The most wonderful thing was if Zippy and George were having an argument between themselves, it sounded like he'd double-tracked it as they seemed to be talking over each other. It was a wonderful technique and I don't know how he did it. Although he was known for Zippy and George he was actually a fabulous actor with a great singing voice and a wonderful raconteur – he used to tell us some wonderful stories."

Roy Skelton managed to achieve writing approximately one hundred episodes of Rainbow. As well as the Daleks, Skelton used his voice to assume the roles of Cybermen and the Krotons within Doctor Who. However, despite the prominence of the characters and their voices, Skelton once said that he could walk down the street without being identified by others. "People don't say, 'There's Zippy,' or ask me to say, 'Exterminate!' I sometimes wish they did," said Skelton.

Hilary Skelton, the wife of Roy, stated: "Roy had a great sense of humour. He wrote Naughty Rainbow for a competition. We still have the original script." This piece of writing was of a similar format to the original programme, only with numerous euphemisms used for comic effect. The sketch has achieved popularity within society. Hilary also said that her husband "loved going to work every day. His first love had been theatre but he brought theatre to Rainbow."

According to Hilary, Roy would have wanted to have a "green funeral," during which his body would be buried in a cardboard coffin. He also would have wanted people to be able to write on the coffin, Hilary noted.